Video quality of digital episodes

Hmmm… what about instead of an entire episode, they provide a “sample” file, of just a few minutes long? Then you could check out the quality and ease any concerns. Like a “free trial”.


Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m asking here. Just a sample so an irritating perfectionist like me can see the video quality. :nerd:


Ahhh, NOW I understand what you’re saying. The quick answer is that a lot of the older episodes (unfortunately) are lower res files – in some cases, as low as 360 or 540. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it varies on an episode-by-episode basis, or at least season-by-season.

My understanding is that, for any given episode, these files represent the highest resolution we have access to – but I can’t say for sure if that’s a higher resolution than you’d get from the DVDs. I suspect it’s not, since it’s the same files.

But I understand the concern, and have an idea – drop me an email or send me a DM here on the forums, and I’ll run it past you!


@ivan, I’m going to echo McCloud’s question about captions, because it seems like you are in the know of such things. Will any of the original MST3k (or Netflix’s) episodes offered as Kickstarter rewards have captioning?

[CC] for the hearing impaired?
[CC] for people who have fine hearing but just really like to read anyhow?
Subtitles in a rainbow of glorious languages?


@MyWy As of now, the plan is for all episodes in the Gizmoplex to support full [CC] for both the hearing impaired and on-screen-text connoisseurs.

I’m not sure about subtitles, but I believe we’ll have whatever is usually available when episodes are released on DVD and Blu-Ray!


@MyWy, in case you’re interested, I wondered a while back what exactly is the difference between captions and subtitles, and I learned the answer: Subtitles only include dialogue whereas captions include other stuff ([ominous music], [car engine starts], song lyrics, etc.).

Shout Factory has released 39 MST3K box sets to date, and about halfway through this run they started captioning the episodes. Each 4-disc set contains episodes from across the 10-season run, so the net result is that about half of all original episodes are captioned, roughly 50% from each season. (All season 11-12 episodes were subtitled from the start so I don’t include them here.)

It is hit-and-miss; some classic episodes are captioned (Space Mutiny, Time Chasers, Giant Spider Invasion), others are not (Manos, Future War, Laserblast). However, I’ve heard that some of these uncaptioned episodes do have captions elsewhere, such as Amazon Prime. My guess is that Amazon requires them for everything on the platform and some third-party service was engaged to caption them there.

So if all of them will be captioned for the Gizmoplex, that’s fantastic news. :smiley:


This thread hit me right in the feels. Great question and excellent discussion.

Speaking of digital video quality - are all of the digital episodes being offered at their highest possible quality available or will there be different options like you would find on other digital stores like Vudu/Amazon?


That’s a good question. I just learned that episode downloads will apparently include different bitrate/quality levels to choose from, to suit our bandwidth/storage needs. My understanding is that these quality options will not be gated behind additional fees – if we have access to download the episode, we’ll have access to all versions of it (similar to what RiffTrax does).

If by “different options” you mean HD vs. non-HD, for seasons 1-10 it’s a moot point since those were shot in the pre-HD era so no high-def version exists.


Will the digital download episodes have introductions with MST3K alumni, similar to the episodes available for sale on


In regards to downloads of digital files - and if this is too early to ask, I completely understand! Is there a general filesize for most of the downloads? I’m sure that will obviously vary based on resolution/quality offered, but I was hoping to get a dedicated drive/USB/whatever to store all the downloads on that I purchased through the KS - would be amazing if I could find an MST-related USB device somewhere (hint, hint) that could contain the library I purchased. I was hoping that would be in the add on rewards somewhere, but I understand getting something preloaded with all the digital files could get really difficult to manage with the different digital download options/packages that were available. I have no problems managing that myself! I just want to make sure that I have something with adequate space to hold it all.


Based on my experience with RiffTrax downloads, the average size of a non-HD digital MST3K video should be about 1.5 gigabytes (1.5GB). There will probably be variance from episode to episode, but I’d bet the average will be in this area.

HD episodes, such as seasons 11 - 13, will probably hover around 6 - 9GB each.


That makes sense. Good to know!


Good discussions and I’ll just toss in here re. captions – a lot of us weirdos would be more than happy to spend our weekends or evenings or all of our vacation typing up captions for episodes which don’t have them – or QAing captions that have already been proposed – and uploading submissions in whatever formats y’all wanted. It’s that kind of fandom.

(And along those lines – speaking of the “mandated” captions that appear on some of the streaming episodes – how many of you have shared my experience of reading captions which COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT! and got the riff/joke reference ALL WRONG!! and then you SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AT YOUR TELEVISION . . . .!!
Ahem. What I mean is, having the opportunity to contribute captions and corrections to captions would be very welcome. What do you think, sirs and madams/clones of same?)


You’re definitely not alone about this. I’m also one of the weirdos who would give time for this cause. Captioning is clearly time-consuming and as prone to human error as any other endeavor (let’s not even give any attention to the lunacy of using AI to generate captions), but it turns out captions/subtitles for riffing require an extra layer of awareness that would really be well suited to the fans.

After all, who better to do it? Someone who knows the joke and the reference, or someone who’s just punching a clock to get it done as fast as possible?


Exactly. I am not so smart that I can hear/transcribe/get every line of an episode, but with the power of a hundred other fans we can get captions that are as close to perfect as possible. Double oooh!


It has been a while since I watched any of the digital episodes from the first KS, but I remember them being a bit pixelated, and preferred the DVD versions. I will take another look tonight and make some comparisons.


OK, Here are some screenshots from Alien from LA. Except for the last one they are unaltered direct from the source.
The first is from the KS digital;
0516. Alien from L.A. 540p .26.22.047
Next is the DVD (Aspect ratio is off because the pixel aspect ratio of the source. It is corrected by the video player);

The next is a version I re-encoded from the DVD;
MST3K-DVD - 0516 - Alien from LA 26.22.047

The screenshots don’t really show the difference that watching video shows. The 540p just does not look as good to me.


This is tremendously useful, thanks for posting it @Hamdinger. Here’s the first image you posted (from the KS digital):


These artifacts look like the result of deinterlacing (a necessary evil since the original source was interlaced); the smooth round base of Servo’s neck is a little jaggy. The minutia of deinterlacing is explained in great detail elsewhere online so I won’t rehash it, but the gist is that every other horizontal line of data is removed and the encoder essentially “guesses” to fill in what used to be there. It works for the most part, except for the edges of objects, as seen here.

I use Handbrake to re-encode from the DVD MPEG-2, and I’ve spent hours pulling my hair out over this. I ended up settling for a “decomb” filter instead of “deinterlacing” because it’s not quite as aggressive:


The “comb teeth” interlacing artifacts are gone and the smoothness is retained. (I labeled this image “A” for reference.)

Here’s @Hamdinger’s last image with the aspect corrected:


@Hamdinger, yours was cropped by a few pixels on all axes, presumably you didn’t like the black strips on either side?

I initially encoded to H265 because it’s a newer, more efficient codec that produces slightly better quality than H264 and in slightly less space than H264, but after lots of side-by-side tests, I found that for MST3K the improvement was negligible and not worth the astronomically increased encoding time. So mine are all encoded to H264 with decomb filter.

Your image overall looks to be just a smidge higher quality than mine, I’m guessing you used higher quality encoding settings. Did you encode to H264 as well?

My final file size for this episode is 1,322,565,239 bytes, what’s yours?

The question that inspired this thread was, “Are the digital episodes better quality than what I get if I re-encode from disc myself?” Assuming all the digital episodes are encoded more or less to this standard, we have our answer and it is “no.” Ripping from disc and re-encoding produces better results.

If anyone else can post stills from other digital episodes, it would help to confirm this. I’ll be anxious to get my hands on a digital episode from this KS and see if it’s indeed similar.


I have been using the Hybrid encoder. QTGMC on the slow preset to deinterlace with vaguedenoiser at the default settings and dehalo_alpha with sensitivity adjusted to 65/85 for filters. H264 at 1400 kbit/s. The overall file size for Alien from LA was .98GB. These settings work pretty good for most episodes. I do crop the black bars. Don’t see the need to waste bits on them when encoding for PC playback.

I gotta say that QTGMC really is the best at deinterlacing I have used. When used with NNEDI3 as a resizer, Hybrid encoder can produce near HD quality upconverts on animated material from DVD sources. I have not seen much advantage upconverting originally interlaced live action material though.


This is a fascinating conversation about converting video and I am grateful to you guys for knowing H265 exists while most people barely know H264 is the spec for video now. And I’m grateful we are getting so many great video downloads.
However, it seems like it should be more of a communication puzzle than a technological one.

The videos are released at the spec that they are released at, right? Those of us who know what the latest mpeg-4 or H264 spec or H265 you read recently is are sad if the videos are released at an older spec.

Most fans won’t notice and will burn to DVD if at all on default settings. :man_shrugging: :pensive:

It’s not a good idea to upconvert from mpeg-2 to mpeg-4 I think I remember hearing in college for digital art a decade ago. Due to generational loss as mentioned by McCloud above.

So, I think it’s important to communicate clearly the specs of the video wherever a download link is given so that people know if they try to upconvert that that was their own choice.

Sidebar: I’m saving these downloads on my Mimobot drives. I expect USB to outlast DVD as a hardware medium. :wink: :sunny: