Author Topic: Proof that the Commodre 64 palette is far superior to the Amstrad CPC.  (Read 11957 times)

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Offline Oliver Lindau

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@Bryce: You are right, actually the CPC will be always the more saturated colours by definition. On the other hand CPC palette doesn't include a single brown so... it is kinda natural that a system with 2 brown (actually it is dark orange and brown) and 3 grey out of 16 will provide way more sepia and pastel style pictures overall. It is hard to pixel portraits with realistic skin tones with the Amstrad palette. Otherwise on the C64 it is not possible to create visual impression like games - let's say Purple Saturn Day for example.

I mentioned this in a previous comment: From an artist perspective none of both palettes is superior. Depending the motif it is sometimes the one or the other works better.

The other point is that the whole saturation discussion is a whole mess:

Amstrad is based on RGB with extreme values with a preset hardware environment (which is meant in a positive way, but high saturation means also hard restriction).

C64 is a total anarchic system in this point. Using an original Commodore monitor you will get a well-balanced colour impression. If you use a TV you will get kinda a brownish whatever with supergloomy white and dark pixels that disappear. But both versions do not look like the colours the VICE emulator provides by default. It is possible to set a monitor to similar settings but still blue, green and esp yellow look different for example. The whole perception how C64 graphics actually look like is alienated thanks to this situation. Otherwise many active artists use only these colours as basis, which makes it impossible to talk about standards.

Btw few years ago I had a talk at Revision demoparty with the graphics artist Made, who also started on Amstrad (like me) and was doing his first pixelwork for C64, complaining about the washed-out colours in the Project One graphics tool. He came to my place where I showed him graphics on my commie and he could not believe how vibrant the colours really are with proper hardware.

This is why I am greatful about the Colodore project - because it is possible to see in real time how different the colours look like on that system with different adjustments.

Offline Oliver Lindau

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@Gryzor: Well, the major point is that there is no existing standard for C64 colours.

It would be very interesting how this palette was developed, but it seems to me that they were set by intuition. They do not even match the RGB colour range, they do not even match PAL specifications in the PAL variant either. When I got my C128 back then with a TV I had serious problems with the adjustments, because the white colour was too bright and even caused screen distortions. Some people still solder resistors to their cables to get the system compatible with modern digital video hardware.

What PEPTO (the palette was named by its inventor) did with the common known palette is that he used a C64 with monitor (do not know the model or manufacturer here) set the settings to a default and measured those colours with a test card... afaik similar to PM5544. The result was a representation of conditions like contrast and even low brightness colours. The idea was that with this basis everybody could readjust his own settings, but unfortunately this does not work properly, because the colours provide visible undertones. PEPTO himself explained recently that this seems to be a side effect of the measurement back then. The new Colodore scheme provides a more authentic basis.

What you mentioned about the oversaturated impression depending the values is definitely a matter of personal habits but also the settings the graphic artist used. As you can see playing with the saturation bar with Colodore not every colour changes the same way. This also changes the way how you use dithering, shadows or transitions for example.

Offline Gryzor

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I'm not sure where the PM5544 comes in to tell you the truth, I guess the only 'real' way would be to take a real-life 'typical' scenario with a new c64 and... what? An average TV of that era, of a Commodore monitor at default settings (if there's even such a thing) and then use a hardware colour picker to read the values?


No argument, with certain settings the pics on that page look gorgeous, but I've never, ever heard a c64 user saying the machine has vibrant colors :D In the old times I remember gatherings at friends' houses, where people would bring their own machines. Understandably I only did this very rarely because bringing my SCART cable was not enough for the CPC to work, but we had MSX, speccies and c64s going around. Spectrum games were very colourful but with a bit of toy-like primary colour quality and cheerful; CPC games were a visual orgasm (whether good or bad). And the c64 had to rely on its hardware scroll and SID because it generally looked so boring.


So.... yes, I do get what you're saying and what they're trying to do, I'm just not sure if it's any relevant. Sure, an artist picks his colours and canvas carefully, and some times he's got the luxury of knowing or dictating how the end product will be positioned (think Capela Sistina). But most often than not, that's not the case and real life conditions take precedence. I'm not sure "how vibrant the colours really are with the proper hardware" is a valid argument in any sense - I don't know, what is the "proper" hardware? My CPC always looked fantastic no matter what tube I threw it to - including my recently purchased 1084S (which I later found out also had the "green screen" button - soooo neat! :D )


It boils down to this:
Publisher: -You've got to fine tune your monitor settings, otherwise our game looks like a pile of shit on a pile of mud!
Teenage gamer: -No shit, Sherlock.


I'm not sure I'm 100% successful in getting through what I mean (my migraine du jour doesn't help either), so by all means let's keep the discussion going - your points do provide much food for thought :)

Offline Sykobee (Briggsy)

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If they want to idealise the C64 palette by trying to recreate the C64 graphics as shown on a proper computer monitor, then that's great, but they should realise that 99% of C64 users only ever experienced the C64 on their TV (NTSC or PAL), and most games were programmed with that in mind (or they did the best they could given that situation). Emulators probably should provide both options.


Obviously the Amstrad CPC came with a monitor, so it's far easier to create graphics that match what would have been seen back in the day, although most emulators actually idealise still, pushing black to pure black when on a CRT it really wasn't. However it is close enough. Most emulators can do green screen as well, but I haven't seen one try to emulate the bright mushy mess that the Amstrad modulators created!

Offline Gryzor

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Doesn't WinAPE have a PAL filter? Though it looks kind of pretty instead of messed-up :D

Offline Oliver Lindau

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So.... yes, I do get what you're saying and what they're trying to do, I'm just not sure if it's any relevant.
This is mainly something why in my opinion any approach creating a norm is irrelevant except a colour scheme simulating a reference monitor output like Colodore.

For some reason this also became kind of a religious subject in the C64 scene for quite a while. One argument has been that more than 50% of C64 users had a TV set at home - which is the worst possible combination btw. Another argument was that artists got used to the low saturated palette since PEPTO has been invented. People like Robin Levy, STE'86 or I were told that the way people used to do pixel graphics in the 80ies and 90ies all have been wrong - judging by a standard set a decade after the commercial death of 8bit machines. For a machine which does not even follow PAL TV standards!

I am using a standard 1084s Commodore monitor which has been adjusted with an Amiga 500. For me it is hard to believe that Commodore used individual calibration methods for two machines this monitor was supposed for. The Commodore 1902 monitor of a friend of mine shows the same bright colours like my monitor. Visiting retro gaming events it is the same situation I knew from the 80ies. Each person has his own settings based on their preferences.If there is a standard existing by ignoring those analogue interaction and the user base overall then it would be the NTSC source, but that never happened. What happened here is similar to the idea comparing a new Apple imac setup with a Windows PC using a budget monitor with the motivation that the budget monitor is the most common hardware (not mentioning the colour range issue).
« Last Edit: 16:15, 02 May 17 by Gryzor »

Offline Gryzor

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By the way, what you said about RGB values before reminded me of the semi-random note values on the VCS' sound chip configuration. :D


Your last post (I edited it to fix the formating) makes the scope of it much clearer. I should hook up my c64 to my 1084 but I don't even know where it is, dammit. Speaking of which, since I do have a c64c but not a breadbin version (I think), do the revisions output the same things or are there differences? Wouldn't surprise me... (yes, I know that a c64c is not indicative of the mobo rev inside it).


So, in sum I guess we're left with just the fact that some artists or hardcore users fine-tune their equipment and get better results I guess :)

Offline Bryce

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Using the monitor type / colour settings is the wrong way to approach the issue. Whether the colour is more vibrant/less bland on monitor X is irrelevant, because you are then just arguing which monitor can enhance the colours the most. The real comparison is to look at the actual values (voltage levels) coming out the back of the computer and comparing these between computers.
By comparing the luminance and chroma signals of two systems you can tell which one will be more vibrant no matter what monitor is used.

To be fair to the C64, it's main issue is that it was designed for NTSC (Never The Same Colour :) ) and then they "shoehorned" a PAL version out of it based on the same design. Had it been designed from scratch for PAL I'm sure they would have chosen other values.

Bryce.

Offline Oliver Lindau

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@Bryce: Isn't this the same thing? Creating a standard by ignoring the users back then and the visual output on a monitor by the same manufacturer like the computer?
Btw PEPTO has a documentation online, which includes a passage about the difference between PEPTO and Colodore colours:
http://www.pepto.de/projects/colorvic/

Offline Bryce

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@Bryce: Isn't this the same thing? Creating a standard by ignoring the users back then and the visual output on a monitor by the same manufacturer like the computer?

Not really, because the monitor has many variables that can be tweaked to enhance the picture. The output at the back of the computer is a static, unchangeable value that accurately reflects the raw picture that the computer puts out.

Bryce.