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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:24 pm 
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On SMB's title screen, I find it easier to compare the sky color against the white text. On my TV, the sky is an extremely vibrant blue-cyan color, and the white text contrasts against the sky very well.

In most emulator palettes however, the white text blends into a washed-out (and often purply) whitish sky color.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:55 pm 
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LightStruk wrote:
Something that has always seemed weird to me for as long as I've used NES emulators - was the sky in SMB1 and Zelda 2 really this purple?

Short answer: yes, it was. :p I'd say, "I can confirm this on my own TV," but TVs can differ greatly even between identical models from the same brand, and some people have their TV's tints set differently as well, sooo…

LightStruk wrote:
I no longer have a real NES console or a CRT TV, so I can't check for myself. Assuming that this palette matches the behavior of correctly calibrated 1980s TVs, it strikes me as very strange that Nintendo chose such a purple hue ($22, I think) when $21 or $31 would look much better.

Well, they actually did use $21 for the main overworld battle scenes (that weren't dark — they didn't use it for graveyard battles, for example); I think they only used $22 for towns and Palaces and such.

As far as the $x1, $x2, $x3, and $x4 columns of colors are concerned: most emulators (such as FCE Ultra and its derivatives) seem to do those columns of colors as "Sky Blue", "'Pure' Blue", "Blue-Violet", "Purple" — respectively — whereas in the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console palette and my own, $x2's actually an "Indigo" color.

Oddly, the 3DS VC palette seems to go more toward "FCE Ultra" in terms of the entire palette's hues. ò.o (The Wii VC palette looks an awful lot like the one I got, though — just a lot dimmer.)

$x8 is another one that looks vastly different depending on the emulator; its canon color, however, is apparently much closer to ye olden MS Paint's dark yellow color (going greener as it gets darker) than to a nice orangey-ish 'gold' color. So sayeth the Wii VC palette and my own NES and TV tuner card, at least. ¯\(º_O)/¯


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:14 pm 
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Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
I'd say, "I can confirm this on my own TV," but TVs can differ greatly even between identical models from the same brand, and some people have their TV's tints set differently as well, sooo…
Sure, these are analog systems we're talking about, so that's why I'm wondering about calibration. But that led me to another thought: PAL TVs don't have tint knobs! Would it make more sense to trust a PAL NES to get the "intended" colors? NTSC is jokingly called "Not The Same Color" for a reason.

Then, I remembered that PAL's colorspace and NTSC's colorspace are not identical. In addition, as lidnariq put it:
lidnariq wrote:
The PAL NES's colorspace is rotated by 15° relative to the NTSC NES, and so provides a comparatively nice red (+75°), yellow (+15°), blue (-165°) and cyan (-105°), at the cost of less satisfying purple and green.
This post from HardwareMan has a capture of a palette test ROM running on a PAL NES, and $22 is much bluer. (And it sure is nice to see a real yellow...)
Attachment:
File comment: HardwareMan's PAL palette screenshot
7195342.png
7195342.png [ 372.23 KiB | Viewed 5909 times ]
Anyway, aren't all of our modern NTSC CRT televisions and capture cards defaulting to the 1987 NTSC standard (SMPTE C) instead of the 1953 standard? The RGB primaries and white point both changed with the 1987 standard!

Super Mario Bros. and Zelda 2 both predate the 1987 standard. Japan used NTSC, just like North America. When the designers were making them, they would be using TVs designed and built before the 1987 standard. Maybe the sky is only violet if it's displayed on a TV from 1987 or later?

So, I started tinkering with Drag's palette generator, and lo and behold, switching it from SMPTE C (1987) to FCC (1953) makes $22... just a little bit bluer... maybe blue enough that it almost makes sense that Nintendo would use it for a clear blue sky.
Attachment:
File comment: Palette from Drag's generator, using SMPTE 1987 colorimetry, otherwise default
SMPTE_1987.png
SMPTE_1987.png [ 8.59 KiB | Viewed 5909 times ]
Attachment:
File comment: Palette from Drag's generator, using FCC 1953 colorimetry, otherwise default
NTSC_1953.png
NTSC_1953.png [ 8.72 KiB | Viewed 5909 times ]
The 1953 palette has a really nice red in $16 and a beautiful orange in $27 as well, but I digress.

In RGB, the 1987 color $22 is (95,106,255) and the 1953 color $22 is (85,113,255). Kizul, your $22 is (144,139,255), which is way more violet than either of these palettes.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:32 pm 
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LightStruk wrote:
<snip>
In RGB, the 1987 color $22 is (95,106,255) and the 1953 color $22 is (85,113,255). Kizul, your $22 is (144,139,255), which is way more violet than either of these palettes.

Hm — that's actually fascinating; I knew about the PAL-is-rotated-from-NTSC thing, but I hadn't realized that they'd changed the NTSC color standards. o.O

In regard to my palette's colors: it's possible that the colors are ever so slightly off; as I mentioned in an earlier post, I was taking screenshots of a somewhat-noisy (even with noise-reduction filters) Composite video signal from my NES.

This is the unedited screenshot of DScaler that I took (with Gamma, Temporal Comb, Temporal Noise, Gradual Noise, and Adaptive Noise filters active (and at maximum settings, in the case of the Noise filters), among other settings):
Attachment:
File comment: Unedited screenshot of Adventure Island II showing a screenful of $22 color, displayed in DScaler. Also, for bonus points: on the right side (in MS Paint), you can see the exact same color with the Gamma filter turned OFF! :D
2-2.png
2-2.png [ 361.14 KiB | Viewed 5899 times ]


I took those screenshots, cropped 'em to a 660×660-pixel square in Photoshop (PS 7, specifically), and applied a maximum-strength Gaussian Blur filter to it to smooth out and eliminate the majority of the noise. Unfortunately, the Gaussian Blur filter caused slight color loss as well in some screenshots: I discovered that the more times you blur with it at maximum strength, the closer it goes to #808080 gray. :|

So… I dunno. Maybe my NES is just slightly oddball; maybe it doesn't adhere 100% to the NTSC color standards of 1950s or 1980s U.S.A./Japan. >.> I think the colors fluctuate between various NES Control Decks anyway, given what I saw at Awesome Games Done Quick once. (The output in the middle looks like a normal NES using Composite; the output on the left looks like something from a NES-on-a-Chip (or maybe an RGB-modded NES); but the output on the right looks way, way too dark. Or like the Wii's NES Virtual Console. It's also a little blurrier than the others, so possibly it's using RF instead of Composite? I dunno. ¯\(º_O)/¯)

If I knew someone (who lived in the same town as me) who owned an oscilloscope or something, I might be able to get the palette even more accurate — maybe. But I'm not really willing to go to quite that much bother to improve this palette; in my opinion, it's already as close to 'perfect' as one can get. :p …At least, for an NTSC palette.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 8:23 am 
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Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
But I'm not really willing to go to quite that much bother to improve this palette; in my opinion, it's already as close to 'perfect' as one can get. :p …At least, for an NTSC palette.
Nor should you. If there's anything these palette threads have taught me, it's that there are so many things that affect color reproduction and color perception that there's no way to be certain. Since the NES produces colors out-of-gamut, there's no standard for how a TV should interpret the signal anyway. The developers of these classic games almost certainly tolerated the variation in colors between the TVs in their offices, so there can't be a precise answer about what colors were intended.

Even in the all-digital realm, color reproduction can be imperfect. I'm typing this post on my old Thinkpad instead of my desktop, and I have a feeling that its LCD has less accurate colors. Why? Because I'm looking at the various screenshots of $22 in this thread, and now they all look blue! So, when people talk about whether a palette looks right on their computer monitors, their monitors (and whether they have a color management profile installed) plays as big a role in the result as the palette does!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:11 pm 
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One of my sister's friends gave us an XBox 360 today. Guess where I went on its Internet Explorer browser first? :mrgreen:

(It was my screenshots gallery.) I must say, I'm not certain whether it's the XBox 360's Composite Out or the colors in my palette, but — most of the hues looked a bit off, and the colors all looked massively over-saturated.

$x3 and $x4 looked like they'd been tint-shifted 50% to 75% toward $x4 and $x5 (respectively); $x9 looked a bit less limey than it does on the actual console, and $28 (and partially $18; possibly also $38) looked too orangey. $xC was too bright, and too cyan; it needed more blue. (I was doing a back-and-forth comparison between the XBox 360's screen and the colors on the actual NES itself; they're both hooked up to the TV simultaneously.)

But, as far as $x3 and $x4 are concerned, at least: the NEStopia YUV (15º Canonical) master palette's colors were much closer to the actual thing. :D $x9 was still too far to the 'blue' side of the spectrum, though; it needed more yellow. (The NEStopia YUV (Alternate) palette, on the other hand, looked more like a NES-on-a-Chip console: it had too much yellow, due to the 'Yellow Boost' being turned on.) $xC looked about the same as in my palette.

Granted, I've not hooked an actual PC up to the TV yet to look at my Definitive NES master palette on that screen 'side-by-side' with the NES's output — so I don't know if it really is the XBox 360 screwing up all of the colors — but at the moment I'm not inclined to try and 'perfect' my NES master palette for (my) CRT television(s). :p I'd made it for computers anyway, and it looks good enough on them — at least, to me. So it serves the purpose it was intended for. :mrgreen:

I'll be doing up my screenshots in about a week or so using the Wii Virtual Console palette that someone 'dumped', just to see how it looks on my TV via the XBox 360's palette; this has got me really curious now. :D

LightStruk wrote:
Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
But I'm not really willing to go to quite that much bother to improve this palette; in my opinion, it's already as close to 'perfect' as one can get. :p …At least, for an NTSC palette.
Nor should you. If there's anything these palette threads have taught me, it's that there are so many things that affect color reproduction and color perception that there's no way to be certain. Since the NES produces colors out-of-gamut, there's no standard for how a TV should interpret the signal anyway.
Indeed; though if I wanted to get it '99.999999999%'-accurate, I could just hook my PC (with an emulator) up to the TV with the NES, then — using Adventure Island II's debug mode as I have so many times in the past — fill the screen with each color in sequence and try to match the colors on my PC whilst flipping between my NES and PC. :p I've a good eye for color… usually.

LightStruk wrote:
Even in the all-digital realm, color reproduction can be imperfect. I'm typing this post on my old Thinkpad instead of my desktop, and I have a feeling that its LCD has less accurate colors. Why? Because I'm looking at the various screenshots of $22 in this thread, and now they all look blue! So, when people talk about whether a palette looks right on their computer monitors, their monitors (and whether they have a color management profile installed) plays as big a role in the result as the palette does!
If I'm right, I don't actually have any color management profiles installed on my PC, nor on my laptop (at least, besides the 'default' ones). But, the colors on my laptop's LCD screen do seem more muted/dull in some ways compared to my PC's two CRT monitors; on the other hand, I can see color separation far more easily on my laptop's screen — probably due to the pixels being much clearer — than on my PC's CRTs, so… :mrgreen:

But yeah, I know what you mean. I still think that the colors look 'better', somehow, on my PC than on my laptop. But even despite the differences in screens, both my PC and laptop display $x2 as indigo, rather than 'pure blue' like in the PAL (and FCEUX) palettes. ò.O I dunno. ¯\(º_O)/¯ It's all subjective; it's all in what you think looks good. I'm just very passionate with my opinion (and also unfortunately have a tendency to try and make my opinion objective instead). xD

(Seriously, though, I do apologize if I come off as exceedingly arrogant and/or pedantic a lot of the time. >.> I'm trying to lessen that a bit these days, but it's difficult. D:)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:44 pm 
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The XBox 360 had a notoriously counter-intuitive way of dealing with gamma curves. A lot of games did it wrong and had strange contrast/saturation issues. I wouldn't be surprised if its web browser failed at this too.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:36 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
The XBox 360 had a notoriously counter-intuitive way of dealing with gamma curves. A lot of games did it wrong and had strange contrast/saturation issues. I wouldn't be surprised if its web browser failed at this too.
Good heavens, you weren't kidding! D: Just for the heck of it, I decided to open up the HD SMPTE color bars SVG image from Wikipedia on the XBox 360's browser, and… Wow are some of the colors way off.

75% Red looks like it should be 100% Red, and the actual 100% Red looks like hot pink; 75% Blue, 75% Yellow, and 75% Cyan are identical in intensity to their 100%-brightness counterparts — and instead of looking like $xC (to use the NES master palette's indices as an example) like they should, the Cyan parts look like the NES palette's $xB!

Interestingly, when the screensaver kicks in (thus dimming the screen), all of the color bars except one look they way they should (with Cyan being its proper $xC-type hue instead of $xB, and visible differences of intensity between the 75% and 100% bars) — excepting the fact that they've been dimmed way further than they should be — with the 75% Magenta/Purple bar now being hot pink instead!

What the heck, Microsoft? D: You should know better!

(And yes, this TV is calibrated correctly — via the same image displayed on a PC I use exclusively for TV-out. This makes me really, really want a Wii or Wii U to see if the same image looks better on one of those.)

At least now I know it's not my palette, though! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:23 pm 
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<.< …
>.> …

…Apologies for a three-and-a-quarter-years-dead necrobump here, but after a year or two of messing around with tweaking the NES palette I made (and being generally dissatisfied with it, because as good as it was… it just never looked quite right), I finally got around to making a completely new one:

Attachment:
File comment: Kizul's Definitive NTSC NES Palette, final (with canonical off-blacks for the $1D/$xE/$xF indices).
palette.png
palette.png [ 1007 Bytes | Viewed 2013 times ]


I've got a couple of different powered (not passive! :D) video switcher things, so I was able to hook up my NES and my PC to the same TV and flip back and forth between the two inputs with ease. I've actually been using my CRT TV as a secondary monitor ever since my biggest CRT monitor's color kinda died, and boy howdy the colors displayed by this TV look glorious.

In order to make this new palette, I'd started off the same way as before: hooking my NES up to my capture card to record small video clips of a screenful of a single color — courtesy of Adventure Island II's debug functions — then deinterlace the clips (saving them as uncompressed video), loading them up in VLC to take screenshots, then loading the screenshots into Photoshop to crop them a little (just trimming the edges off to make sure only the color I wanted was showing) and use the "Average" Blur filter on them to eliminate any noise and leave it filled with a single color only.

It looked much better this time, due to my using a new capture card that has S-Video input (and an old RadioShack video switcher that does a fantastic job of converting Composite to S-Video), thereby providing me with a cleaner signal… But, for obvious reasons, it still didn't look quite right.

So, instead, I used the screenshots as a base: I set my PC's analog video output mode to YCbCr444 (I normally use Limited Range RGB), opened the screenshots in Photoshop, hid all of the toolbars in the main Photoshop window, and zoomed in until the screen was filled with the color I needed.

Then, I unfocused my eyes to make the screen really blurry, flipped between displaying the NES and displaying my PC, and tweaked the color that my PC was outputting until it matched, as closely as possible, the output of the NES itself.

Some of the darkest colors and brightest colors were rather difficult to get right; my PC's "pure black" is brighter than the NES's $1D/$xE/$xF blacks for some reason, and the brightest colors always seemed slightly "off" no matter what I did. I matched them as closely as I could, though.

Flipping my TV between my PC running a game in an emulator and my NES running the same game at the same place, this palette seems functionally identical to the NES — both to my eyes and to my camera(s), especially if my PC is outputting in YCbCr444 instead of RGB (Limited Range) — so I'd say that this is the closest I'll ever be able to get to making a proper "dump" of my NES's master palette. :)

If anyone wants to compare how this palette looks to other palettes, I have my screenshots gallery up and running here (and have for the past two or three years, heh):
http://procyon.com/~kizul/nes_files/screenshot_gallery/

If you want to use this palette, you can download it from the attachment below.

tl;dr: new very-accurate colors; I think they're faboo. Please try them out!


Attachments:
File comment: Kizul's Definitive NTSC NES Palette, both with canonical "off-blacks" and pure blacks variants for the $1D/$xE/$xF indices, and a couple of extra game-specific palettes for Bee 52 and The Immortal.
Kizuls_Definitive_NTSC_NES_Master_Palette.zip [3.28 KiB]
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:12 am 
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Uhg, FINALLY after three and a half years someone answers my question!

Ha ha seriously though, wow, I forgot I ever asked this. Man I'm gonna have to go through and re-read a lot of this...


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:15 am 
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Marscaleb wrote:
Uhg, FINALLY after three and a half years someone answers my question!

Ha ha seriously though, wow, I forgot I ever asked this. Man I'm gonna have to go through and re-read a lot of this...

Hopefully I was part of the group that helped answer your question. :mrgreen: (If I was, I'm happy to've helped!)

Meanwhile: I decided to throw my latest palette onto my soft-modded Wii and I emulated a few NES games (namely Adventure Island II and Legendary Wings, both of which I do own), and my latest variant is super-close to matching my actual NES; its colors appear to be just a little bit darker/dimmer than the actual hardware, but after playing for a while I don't even notice anymore because the relative brightness of the colors is still spot-on. :D

I just wish that I could get $0D to be negative black instead of just "pure black": it just doesn't look dark enough on my TV in emulators. On actual hardware, it's like my TV's just completely skips over dots colored with $0D (they're literally pure black, with not a hint of light), but in RetroArch on my Wii there's still just a bit of light being shone on those dots.

Ah well. I'm not going to bother tweaking it any more (yeah, yeah, I've said that before — but I mean it this time!) — except maybe making $20 and $30 just a bit brighter of an off-white, but that's very low on my list of priorities right now. That's the only tweak I'd make to it; if I made literally any other tweaks, it would no longer look "right". :)

Oh — and for Dougeff (who may not care anymore, given how long it's been since his last post in this thread): I have good news about Maniac Mansion: it looks great now that I've stopped being quite as dumb with the blacks! :D


Attachments:
File comment: I couldn't resist: I had to make an NTSC-filtered comparison; the settings are done so that they mimic my NES's appearance as closely as possible — at least, its appearance on my CRT TV, minus the 240p scanlines.
Maniac Mansion (U) [!]_002.png
Maniac Mansion (U) [!]_002.png [ 7.46 KiB | Viewed 1769 times ]
File comment: Hey, look! I learned! $1D, $xE, and $xF are all the same uniform shade of off-black now. :D (#080808, to be specific.)
Maniac Mansion (U) [!]_001.png
Maniac Mansion (U) [!]_001.png [ 3.51 KiB | Viewed 1769 times ]
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:48 am 
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Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
Hopefully I was part of the group that helped answer your question. :mrgreen: (If I was, I'm happy to've helped!)


(Well yeah, that's the joke: no one could provide a good palette for three plus years until your post just now. ;) )

Looking at all these palettes again is making me want to tweak them. Perhaps it is just this old laptop I'm using since I'm not at home now, but most of these make the darks look way too dark, and brights way too bright. They barely show any color at all, making them seem pointless to use over pure black/white.
But it just just be this laptop's screen; I seem to recall it just being the bottom row of brights that was way too bright when I was last looking at it. Seriously, what games ever even used those colors?

Kizul; that palette does look pretty good; when I get home I want to try it out with some of my art and see if it makes a difference.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:09 am 
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Unfortunately, there's no correct answer to this question. Even if one person is able to make a palette that looks 100% faithful to what they're getting on their setup, chances are it still looks completely different from what other people are getting on their own setups. This is also true of other consoles that use RGB internally (SNES, Genesis, Master System, etc.), but people aren't as bothered because the palettes are already in RGB to begin with, even though the final output varies radically depending on the TV.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:53 am 
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Marscaleb wrote:
Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
Hopefully I was part of the group that helped answer your question. :mrgreen: (If I was, I'm happy to've helped!)


(Well yeah, that's the joke: no one could provide a good palette for three plus years until your post just now. ;) )

Looking at all these palettes again is making me want to tweak them. Perhaps it is just this old laptop I'm using since I'm not at home now, but most of these make the darks look way too dark, and brights way too bright. They barely show any color at all, making them seem pointless to use over pure black/white.
But it just just be this laptop's screen; I seem to recall it just being the bottom row of brights that was way too bright when I was last looking at it. Seriously, what games ever even used those colors?

Kizul; that palette does look pretty good; when I get home I want to try it out with some of my art and see if it makes a difference.

(Ahh, I see! XD Okay. :mrgreen:)

I know what you mean about the darks being too dark and brights being too bright; looking back at the screenshot of Maniac Mansion that Dougeff posted using one of my previous palettes… well, to make a long story short: the reason why the blacks look so terrible in the screenshot that uses my palette is because on my laptop's screen, it looked just fine! It was a nice off-black.

But I've come to find out that my computers' screens (excluding my CRT TV, which I'm using as a secondary monitor for my PC) are just really dim, so of course what looked simply "off-black" on my screen would be "dark gray" pretty much everywhere else. XP

As far as the bright colors go: a lot of games use them; Super Mario Bros. 3 used $3C for sky colors in several Action Scene Panels — and $31 is used as the sky color in some levels of Adventure Island II; Legendary Wings flashes between $20/$30 and $38 when you enter a "LUCKY!" area; $37 is used as a skin tone for pretty much every human and elf NPC in the original Dragon Warrior trilogy (they use $20/$30 in Dragon Warrior IV), and Dragon Warrior III also uses $37 for the color of sand and the bright color of mountains/towers on the overworld map during the brightest "Day" time; Solstice: Quest for the Staff of Demnos uses triad combinations of pretty much every single color on the palette from $x0 to $xC (either a $0x,$1x,$2x trio of shades from a color, or a $1x,$2x,$3x trio) in its myriad rooms…

It really depends, but they're used everywhere. :)

I hope my palette works well for you! :D

tokumaru wrote:
Unfortunately, there's no correct answer to this question. Even if one person is able to make a palette that looks 100% faithful to what they're getting on their setup, chances are it still looks completely different from what other people are getting on their own setups. This is also true of other consoles that use RGB internally (SNES, Genesis, Master System, etc.), but people aren't as bothered because the palettes are already in RGB to begin with, even though the final output varies radically depending on the TV.

This is true; as I said before, I eyeballed the color and brightness until what my PC sent through my CRT TV appeared to match what the NES was showing on that same TV — but I still couldn't get that 100% perfect because of 1.) differing brightnesses of black (my PC's "black point", so to speak, was brighter than the NES's); and 2.) the NES was putting out a 240p image, whereas my PC was putting out a 480i image, so the brightness I was matching also included the darkness of the scanlines that didn't appear to exist in my PC's output.

It's not perfect, but it's as close as I could match with what I currently have, and to me it looks almost indistinguishable from the actual hardware I own (especially when I turn on blargg's NTSC Composite filter in RetroArch (or use the NTSC filter in NEStopia)), which is significantly better than any of my previous attempts. :mrgreen:

In my previous attempts… inevitably, the levels always looked wrong; a particular green would be too bright, or a blue; this color would be just slightly the wrong hue, or would look washed-out, or this and that color side-by-side would have a weird contrast instead of blending together and having the only way you could really tell them apart be the Composite artefacting at the edges of the colors (e.g. $19+$1A, which The Adventures of Tom Sawyer uses on the River boss and Injun Joe's dinosaur at the end of the Cave — which sadly my palette still doesn't quite perfectly match, but oh well — I got it to be very close)… It was immensely frustrating, to say the least.

…But I'm rambling; I've deprived myself of sleep and should stop typing before this post gets any longer. XD This is just a subject about which I'm very passionate and I love talking about it — though that was probably made clear in any/all of my other posts in this thread. :roll:

I'm happy if others get some good use out of my palette(s)! :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:35 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
This is also true of other consoles that use RGB internally (SNES, Genesis, Master System, etc.), but people aren't as bothered because the palettes are already in RGB to begin with, even though the final output varies radically depending on the TV.

That and 240p Test Suite exists for most of these consoles, so anyone who cares about matching the colors that the console is producing can tune the TV's color decoder. Heck, even handhelds are starting to get ports of 240p so that players can compare TV adapters to what the internal screen is producing.

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