Which do you prefer?

Now that I have the means to capture four classic Nintendo consoles via beautiful, crisp, colorful RGB (and will probably eventually take the plunge and get some GameCube component cables), I’m looking to do more videos beyond Game Boy. Game Boy World’s not going anywhere, of course! I’m just, you know, branching out.

But this is a very important question. Do you prefer classic game videos with scanline effects?

Or without?

It’s a heck of a lot easier on my eyes to play these on a 40″ screen with scanlines, but I can’t decide if the lines have a negative impact on the resulting videos. (I obviously need to calibrate the brightness and saturation of the videos in any case, so never mind the relative dimness of the scanline video.) I’m surprised by how cleanly the scanline video compressed on YouTube, but they may still be a distraction for some folks. I’m honestly torn and could use some feedback.

21 thoughts on “Which do you prefer?

  1. I’d prefer no scanlines, but it’s far from being a make-or-break kind of thing.

    Glad to see the NT is treating you so well – either version of the footage you’re capturing looks fantastic.

  2. Love them in person, but if I’m being honest with myself I hate them on video AND I turn them off after a couple minutes when I’m playing emulators. I say no.

    • Knowing your h/o ophthalmologic issues, though, if scanlines works better for you go for it!

  3. Out of the two videos there. The Bionic Command looks off to me without scan lines. I barely notice them on the Castlevania 3 video. But it doesn’t seem off. Honestly, the XRGB doesn’t do the best scanlines. But the 720p scanlines are the best out of that box. So I guess I’m voting for scanlines. Personally on my XRGB I leave them on like 90 percent of the time. Granted that’s mostly with Genesis games, some games look good with them off, but a lot of them just look wrong or painted? (The best I can describe it) with them off. It’s possible so many people ar eased to watching emulator footage the are used to seeing them off. But to me the Castlevania 3 looks better with it on, on the Bionic Commando looks worse with them off.

  4. I go back and forth. There was a period last year where I played through all of the NES Castlevanias with basic (and very faint) scanlines. Then for six months, I was all about no scanlines, straight pixels. Now I’ve started futzing around with NTSC/CRT replication, which replicates fuzzy cables/fuzzy screens (and sometimes very, very well).

  5. Scan lines look terrible to me, but that’s just personal preference. Keep them if it’s easier on your eyes, I can always remove them on my end by setting YouTube to display at 360p.

    • This is a great point. We can always get around them in this way if we don’t like seeing them. So if you make them with scan lines then that way we have a choice.

      And hey, if you want to add one of those silly screen curvature effects, I’d be down with that too!

  6. Hmm, It’s tough to choose, scan-lines looks softer to me, but no scan-lines seems more vibrant. I’ve never been good at noticing frame-rate and fine, visual differences. Calibrating my TV even with test screens is a case of: “uh, I guess that looks better” To me it seems, even though it’s all digital, that scan-lines are more like analogue audio, softer more authentic to a certain time period, and no scan lines seem more like digital, cleaner but slightly colder. Thankfully(?), my ineptitude at visual minutiae is made up for with audio minutiae.

  7. I just wanted to say I read the history of the site piece. It probably doesn’t mean much, but I find it interesting that your various webpages have been a rare constant since I started posting on the Xenogears board at RPGamer. Feels like a lifetime ago, huh?

  8. The scanlines seem extremely visible to me, to the point of distraction, but that’s just me. Even if you’re going for the most crisp picture possible over say, representing these games as they would’ve looked on TVs at the time, scanlines still seem a little superfluous to me. It feels like an added effect that isn’t part of how the games really look.

  9. I like the scanlines.

    I’ve read a bit about this stuff — if memory serves, most of the old consoles can output RGB with the right equipment but the NES has to be modded? I remember reading about a pretty pricey hub that takes SCART inputs. One of those “maybe someday if I’ve got the money and the space” kinds of things. I’m guessing you’re using something like that and it’s got a scanline toggle on it?

    I happened to get my hands on an abandoned late-gen tube TV that actually has component inputs. It’s pretty much the perfect set for retro gaming — not too big, not too heavy, but it’s a tube and it’ll take high-quality video input without having to mess around with foreign adapters — but it’s got a blown capacitor and the top of the picture doesn’t display. Unsurprisingly, I have been unable to find any local businesses that still repair tube TV’s (and I know better than to go messing around inside one myself). As it happens my father-in-law used to be in that business and has the tools, the parts, and the skills to fix it, but he lives out-of-state, so it’s a matter of finding the time when he visits.

    Which is a pretty huge digression from the matter at hand (which is “Yes, I prefer it with the scanlines”), but this is a subject that I’m fascinated by and don’t know much about. I DO know that I’ve never liked playing old 2D console games on modern TV’s (and didn’t even care much for playing them on high-resolution CRT monitors when those were a thing) and that the only image filters that ever really negated the effect were the ones that simulated CRT effects (like Blargg’s filters). I’ve always found using the original hardware on a tube TV to be the best solution, but obviously it’s not convenient and I’m always interested in what other good options are out there.

    (I have similar opinions on reprints of old comics. Like: reprints on newsprint; reprints on higher-quality stock that are from direct scans of what the original image looked like printed on newsprint. Dislike: original four-color print process used on high-quality glossy paper; recolored comics that slap a bunch of damn Photoshop gradients everywhere.)

  10. I also like it with scanlines. The Bionic Commando video seems blocky and static without them, and I guess I just like the style.

  11. Probably due the fact that I view most of my web video on a tv from a couch, the scanlines do not bother me in the slightest. No scanlines is okay, but it makes it feel like an emulator, rather than the real thing.

    Of course what comes next is a 60fps capture solution, so that blinking sprites don’t end up static or invisible.

  12. Put me down for “no scan lines” but if there were scan lines it wouldn’t stop me from watching the videos.

  13. Scanlines can really change a game looks. If you are doing this for archival purposes like you were discussing in a previous Retronauts episode, scanlines seem a necessity. They give a great window into how the games were viewed when they were played at release. Also certain games, like Batman NES for instance, practically morph when scanlines are added. The scanlines give the backgrounds a great depth and shading, which really goes to show that many of these games were designed with scanlines in mind.

  14. Unless you are getting your feed through a crt monitor with a real console and getting real scanlines, I would vote not to use them. They are very small and uniform in the youtube compressed video and a bit distracting to my eyes. Also, to someone who knows what scanlines look like, they really look odd when they are faked with an overlay of black lines. But strangely enough, the scanline video seems much crisper in general than the non-scanline video. It might just be the color palette of Bionic Commando, but the colors are soft-edged and bleed more.

  15. No real problem with viewing either of the samples. I mostly watch content on my phone so maybe there is not enough size-wise to notice a discrepancy. If it is easier to produce content, I’d say leave the scan lines.

  16. Love those scanlines. So count me in as a vote for keeping them however, you’ll see no drop off in my enjoyment of your work if you decide to forgo the little guys.

  17. On a real CRT, the blurryness hides the scanlines.

    But on a monitor, or video or whatever, the scanlines are like “look at me!!!!”.

    So yeah, I don’t like scanlines unless you are trying to make a point.

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