Test 1: Matrix Revolutions

Introduced in the comparison in 2004, Matrix Revolutions is hard enough to even make the latest generation of codecs sweat considerably.

I picked a bunch of shorter scenes that I had a look at: The first 1.5 minutes with the famous Matrix characters scrolling off the screen and a computer representation of an entire city, then Neo's waking up scene in the subway (3:56 - 4:45), the fight in the club's atrium up until the point where the Frenchman has the music stopped in the club (15:45 - 18:52), a scene where we have a ship racing through underground tunnels followed by a swarm of squids (1:01:59 - 1:02:40), the beginning of the squid attack on Zion (1:03:40 - 1:04:24), Neo in the machine city (1:38:40 - 1:40:00) and finally the beginning of the fight between Neo and Agent Smith (1:41:54 - 1:43:50).

As usual, you can switch between screenshot of every scene as well as zoom in and out. By default, the source image from the DVD is shown. Many thanks to Zolaerla for the image switching and zooming script.

Then my usual disclaimer: Screenshots are not necessarily representative of the video quality. It might be that a screenshot of codec A just happens to fall onto an I-frame which is the least compressed (and thus looks pretty good), whereas quality quickly degrades after the frame shown in the screenshot. And a codec B might have a heavily compressed B-frame at the same position, so comparing the two would be inherently unfair. Bottom line: Take screenshots with a grain of salt, make sure you read all my comments and perform your own tests when in doubt. Every human being perceives visual quality differently and you might come to completely different conclusions watching the same clips as I did. Also, this time I made a point of looking at the source throughout the comparison so I'll have some comments on quality compared to the source as well.

Scene 1: Intro

I've always found that even in the first Matrix, codecs had a lot of trouble with the intro, even starting with the Warner Brothers logo, and I was proven right this time. Codecs hardly like black backgrounds (and many had few nasty block in scenes that should be pitch black), and scrolling fonts also seem quite difficult. I made a point going a bit longer than just the intro to see the first few actors to see how a transition between purely computer generated content and live content can be handled.

Compared to last year, I saw more pleasing results. All codecs properly keep the black parts black. The AVC group has the edge on the ASP group, with less visible blocking, and clouds that appear more close to the source.

Scene 2: The subway

As Neo wakes in an almost white subway station, the codecs are hard taxed to keep the tile structure of the walls.

Overall, the Elecard encoder seems to do the best job overall in this scene, but no codec can quite keep the level of detail the source offers. When Neo is still on the floor, there's a lot of noise in the source, codecs either turn this into smearing or blocks.

Scene 3: The Club

What would Matrix be without a nice shoot-out? Fortunately, they reintroduced the lobby shoot-out in Matrix 3 :

Immediately after the fight our protagonists enter the club:

If you looked through all the shots, they only show very little of the imperfections of this scene. It starts with the walk down the stairs that simply all codecs mutilate, a very smeared crowd, and a noisy background when the Frenchman gets up, which all codecs either turn into blocks or smearing all over the place.

Scene 4: The tunnel

Hold your food, we're going for a ride..

The tunnel is definitely a challenge for all participants. There's no representation that I'd consider good, but we have okay, so so and outright bad results.

Scene 5: Attack on Zion

As thousands of squids are met with hundreds of thousands of bullets, there's bound to be work for our contestants.

It feels almost as if the squids were attacking our contestants, doesn't it?

Scene 6: Machine City

As Neo enters the heart of the machine city, our contestants have to deal with dark scenes, lots of blue, and a lot of small things flying around Neo's face.

Scene 7: Neo faces Agent Smith

If you think you saw fighting in Matrix 1 & 2, here's the ultimate battle: Neo and Agent Smith face off in pouring rain, with thousands of Smith copies watching.

This year's results represent a significant step in the right direction. The scene still exhibts lots of blocks especially when the two fighters take the fight to the air and when Neo lands inside the building though.

Since the main round only involves a single movie, it's time to proceed to the to the conclusion now.

This document was last updated on December 23, 2005