Test 2: Steamboy

The search for a suitable replacement for Futurama proved to be long. I've gone through many animated titles, both handdrawn and computer rendered. Watched through countless hours of Anime only to come back with the same conclusion: too easy and it still feels like a movie for children. Just shortly before the qualification phase began, I came to watch a few DVDs I had gotten a few weeks back. Steamboy managed to crush XviD 1.1 beta 2, and while I can't do anything with the storyline, I decided at least it gives codecs a run for their money, and it's family friendly at that - I've had another source that was just as hard but had to be IVTCd and is more directed towards adults.

Either way, after the review, I'm satisfied that this source is going to stick around for a while, it's just as hard as Matrix 3, just in other ways.

I picked a number of smaller scenes for the review.

Scene 1: The Experiment (frames 3930 - 6037)

The scene starts in a dark hall with lots of film grain, then we have a nice little steam explosion and some close-ups as well.

It may be premature, but I have a feeling that if any codec were to nail this scene, it would easily win the entire Anime battle.

Scene 2: The confrontation (10498 - 11655)

In this scene, we have a bunch of close-ups so we can focus on facial details and clothes. There's also a nice fade as the steam slowly disappears.

Scene 3: The Train (frames 35714 - 36708)

The scene starts with a close-up of the train's wheels, then we see the landscape flying by, traverse through a window and end up with a few nice close-ups.

Scene 4: London by Night (frames 42965 - 43631)

This one was tough on every participant. The nightly scenery, the airship appearing out of the dark, all appears designed to break codec's backs.

Scene 5: Nightfall (frames 62774 - 63988)

This scene offers fireworks, an accelerated dusk, and underwater shots. In other words, an ideal opportunity for banding, lots of blocks and smearing ;) In addition, once we're in the submersible, Ray's jacket offers some nice little red spots (yes, they're there even in the source) to blow out of proportions.

Scene 6: Attack (frames 104225 - 105720)

The last scene is comprised of both dialog scenes and a lengthy action sequence.


Counting up the points given to the different codec, I found that Ateme and x264 got exactly the same amount of points, with one surpassing the other on one instance each. The same can be said about XviD and DivX, though they both have a lower total number of points.

DivX deserves a special mention though, because it was the only one not to disturb the eye by significantly changing the block pattern between two consecutive frames (and neither of those were I-frames by the way).

Bottom line, there's considerable potential for improvement for all four participants here.

Now proceed to the conclusion.

This document was last updated on December 25, 2005