PC-98 series computers can do quite a bit in terms of graphics.
Simultaneous text and planar graphics output, high resolutions, and with 9821 even higher resolutions and color bit depths.
But even with older PC-98 video standards, many video game developers and independent CG artists have shown how much beauty can be represented
with just 16 colors and 400 lines, even more so when paired with a 486 or Pentium class CPU.
Unfortunately, one area where PC-98x1 didn't shine well was with video playback.
Video on home computers started becoming popular once IBM-PC compatibles were on the rise in Japan and 5th generation consoles
were coming out. MPEG accelerator cards weren't widespread in the PC-98 userbase, and Windows 3.x (and later 9x) were making the task uniform
and easy across all supported platforms, so video playback for PC-98 DOS wasn't nearly as full of software solutions compared to
MAG image viewers and FM music drivers.
Luckily, I managed to stumble upon one.
Today I'm going to show you AVIPLAYER by Team Gamun.
Built for playing MS-Video1, Cinepak (even Sega Saturn Cinepak videos) and QuickTime videos, it comes with a variety of
ways to play video. We're only going to focus on Cinepak, due to performance and playback mode support.
We're also only going to focus on graphics modes supplied by 9801BA and 9821 computers that are built-in.
No Hi-color GA C-bus cards and such.
What you'll need:
Absolute minimum: PC-9801 with a 486-DX, BA series will do the job.
For 256 color support: PC-9821 with a 486-DX. Pentium MMX class recommended for acceptable framerates and resolutions.
PC-9801-86 or WSS-compatible sound card for audio playback.
Once you have everything ready, prepare your video of choice and start up MPEG Streamclip.
Either drag&drop or use the File menu to open your video. Once you have done that, you should see your video in the window.
Next, go to File and select "Export to AVI". You should then see the following window:
For my PC-9821-V166 with Integrated DMA-less IDE, I find these to be the best options in terms of performance/quality ratio.
You can save and load presets with the Presets option at the bottom-left corner.
Now let's go over some of the options.
Quality should be of your choice, but balance it out with the resolution.
Audio should be compressed mono, as Stereo is broken, IMA ADPCM sounds terrible with AVIPLAYER,
and other compression methods will not work with it.
Sample rate should also be your preference, but keep in mind that 24kHz will reduce playback speed & pitch
by about 10%, and 16kHz will produce lots of crackling, all faults of the program. Keep it at 32kHz for a balance of
quality and speed.
Framerate and resolution depend on your configuration, so choose wisely.
I haven't experimented with other options, so e-mail me if you find any performance benefits with them.
Once finished, hit "Make AVI" and grab a cup of tea, because you're gonna wait a while with longer videos.
Finally, transfer the video to your PC-98, preferably where you installed AVIPLAYER.
Now we'll go over the player itself.
The bundled documentation explains all the commandline parameters in detail, but I'll explain the most interesting ones here.
-W : Enable 2x and 1x scaling of video when pressing Space.
-L : Double the precision of dithering. Useful with 320x200 videos
-O : Bake a palette for the video. This will optimize for 256 color mode.
-M : Grayscale mode.
-X : Force 16-color mode. Default on 9801 machines. On 9821, Set GDC to 2.5Mhz or you will get 200-line scanlined mode instead of 400 line mode.
And much more....
That's it. Hopefully things should go smoothly.
Here are some demonstrations of the program.