The Crunchyroll catalog spans a massive amount of video content. Our published material dates back to when content was distributed on DVD or aired on standard definition TV at 480P all to way to current anime which is almost never produced at a higher resolution than 1080P. As displays are able to handle higher and higher resolutions and streaming platforms are able to handle variable internet speeds, what does this mean for modern-day anime fans? If you’re using Crunchyroll on 4K household televisions and 4K computer monitors, anime ends up being upscaled from its native resolution (again, a maximum of 1080P) up to your display’s resolution. This gets even more complicated if your internet bandwidth becomes constrained or if you want to download an episode for offline viewing at a smaller filesize to preserve space. In both cases, a lower resolution version of the original video file will be accessed and then will be upscaled to your device’s resolution through video decoding and rendering.
This leaves us with a pretty fascinating challenge–how can we explore thoughtful up-scaling to improve the anime viewing experience? The anime fan and content encoding communities have already been hard at work beginning and exploring this question, and we at Crunchyroll have been paying attention. We wanted to explore some of the proposed solutions, namely pre-processing and real-time up-scaling. What follows are our initial findings.