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Red Faction: V-Sync Video Shows Extra Class

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

As regular readers of the Face-Off features will have realised by now, I'm not exactly a fan of games that aren't v-synced, but sometimes it's the case that screen tear is a necessary evil in maintaining a smooth response from the controls and an acceptable refresh rate on-screen. Red Faction: Guerrilla – covered in-depth yesterday – is probably the most high-profile example of recent times.

Internet video doesn't play nice with non-v-synced games, making them look worse than they do in "real life" (the effect of a 60FPS stream decimated down to 30FPS), so here's a bit of a treat... Red Faction: Guerrilla as you've never seen it before; the original Xbox 360 Face-Off 20 clips re-edited and post-processed to give a 30FPS v-locked signal, courtesy of a small tweak to the Digital Foundry frame rate analysis tool.

Red Faction: Guerrilla the way it should be seen, locked at 30FPS with most – if not all – of the v-sync issues corrected.

The effect on visual consistency looks subtle, but owners of the game will appreciate how this filtering makes a great-looking game that much better. In an age where screenshots and game videos are regularly manipulated or enhanced before being unleashed upon the public, it should be no surprise to learn that post-processing clips like this is nothing new. In fact, Xbox Live Marketplace video has a mandatory v-sync clean-up policy I've seen enforced to various degrees. However, the fact is that this is usually done manually, with frames copied and pasted in the editing system, or even touched up by hand in Photoshop. On many games running with no v-sync, over 40 per cent of the 60Hz output is affected by tearing, and correcting this can be days of torturous, monotonous work.

The "fairest" and most transparent solution would be to offer 60FPS video streaming. But when bandwidth is at a premium, and while Adobe's h264 decoder is so inefficient and prone to dropping frames, that isn't going to happen. If you click through on the Face-Off 20 video, you'll see my current solution: run the full output of the console at half-speed, which has a bonus side-effect of giving more bandwidth to detail retention.

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