GeForce 6 and 7 series have a dedicated 2D processor in charge of enhancing the quality of 2D videos executed by programs such as Windows Media Player. This feature was highly praised by NVIDIA when they released their GeForce 6 series and recently with the release of their GeForce 7 series. NVIDIA announces their chips from these series as “two-in-one”, since they have not only a 3D processor, but also a processor for enhancing 2D videos.
But there is an important detail that NVIDIA doesn’t tell: the 2D enhancements are not automatically enabled. I.e. just installing your GeForce 6 or 7 series video card is not enough to get the 2D video enhancements, you need to install an additional driver and configure Windows Media Player correctly. We will show you how this is done in this tutorial.
Collectively called PureVideo by NVIDIA, 2D image enhancements were added basically to improve 2D video quality, basically correcting interlacing and telecine.
Videos originally targeted to TVs are interlaced, because that’s they way TVs work. In interlacing, each video frame has only half of the total lines available. Video monitors used by computers uses non-interlaced scanning, which is capable of showing all line available per frame, so when reproducing this kind of video on your computer, you can see it doesn’t have the best possible quality.
GeForce video cards from 6 and 7 series have a de-interlacing engine, that creates the missing lines from each video frame, thus improving 2D video quality.
When movies are converted to video, another problem arises. Movies are shot at 24 frames per second, while videos on TV should be played at 30 frames per second. So the movie must go to a process called telecine, which creates those 6 frames per second that are missing. Sometimes, however, this process is not very well done and you can see that the image quality isn’t optimal.
Video cards based on GeForce 6 or 7 series offer two inverse telecine features to correct this problem, called inverse 3:2 and 2:2 pull-down.
There is also a third feature found on video cards from these series called bad edit correction or 3:2 & 2:2 correction, which correct errors generated by inverse telecine.
As we explained, even though GeForce 6 and 7 series video cards have these features, they are not automatically enabled. See how to enable them in the next page.
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In order to use PureVideo feature on your GeForce 6 or 7 series, you will need to:
NVIDIA decoder is a 30-day trial software. According to NVIDIA, they don’t give this software for free because they have to pay royalties to MPEG-LA and to Dolby Laboratories. Since not all users will use the enhancements described in this tutorial, they decided that this software would be optional, available to the users who are willing to pay between USD 19.95 and USD 49.95, depending on its version.
Ok, but for someone that has just spent USD 600 on a video card is frustrating – to say the least – to have to buy a USD 49.95 software in order to use all features provided by the video card. Anyway, c’est la vie…
Note: We we first published this tutorial, this software costed only USD 15. Now NVIDIA divided it into three different versions, consting between USD 19.95 and USD 49.95. Really frustrating.
On the download page for this software you will find all needed information in order to install the trial version, like user name and license number.
After installing Windows Media Player 10 and NVIDIA DVD Decoder, you will need to configure Windows Media Player to use the decoder located on the video card instead of using the system’s CPU.
To do that, run Windows Media Player 10 and go to Tools, Options, Performance tab, Advanced burron and configure like this:
- Under Video Acceleration, check the boxes “Use video mixing renderer” and “Use overlays”.
- Under DVD video, uncheck the box “Use video mixing renderer”.
- Uncheck the box “Enable full-screen mode switch”.
After performing this configuration, an icon called NVIDIA Decoders will appear on system tray anytime you run a MPEG-2 video or DVD on Windows Media Player 10. Double-clicking on this icon you can configure the video processor that is located on your video card. Notice that this icon will only show up when a MPEG-2 video or DVD is being played. In Figure 2, you can see the options that will appear.
Even though the default configurations are enough for the majority, you can “play” with them in order to achieve better results, especially on de-interlacing feature.
Unfortunately there is no way of capturing “before” and “after” screenshots to show you here. Even though we can capture the “before” screenshots – i.e., without using the video card processor –, it is not possible to capture the “after” screenshots. The explanation is simple. Since it is the video card that is performing the video decoding, it is throwing all decoded video directly to the video monitor, bypassing Windows. The only way of capturing a screenshot would be using a capture device connected to the video output used to connect the video card to the video monitor. Unfortunately we don’t have a board like this. You could take some pictures, but the final result wouldn’t be good.
However, we are putting a document called NVIDIA PureVideo Reviewers Guide for downloading here. In this document you will not only find several “before” and “after” screenshots but also more details on Windows Media Player 10 and NVIDIA decoder that we didn’t mention.
On the other hand, we could see numerically the efficiency of using the video card’s decoder instead of using the system’s CPU to decode 2D videos. When playing a video before configuring the video card decoder, the CPU load was between 8% and 18%. When we switched the video decoding to the video card the CPU load was between 2% and 3%, really impressive. Since we were using a very high-end computer (Pentium 4 3.4 GHz with a GeForce 7800 GTX) you will probably have a better benefit if you use a less powerful system.