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The "Soap Opera Effect" on modern displays (1 Viewer)

Dan Gill

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A few months back I picked up a Vizio sv470xvt (the 47" LCD) and have been thrilled with it, but when I first got it, my girlfriend and I were constantly saying that things looked "too real." I knew it had something to do with the incredible frame rate that modern LCDs have, but I wasn't 100% sure what was going on. I also found that after adjusting the color settings considerably, I was much better off.

Anyway, browsing around another site today I came across a great explanation. The full article is here:
http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/08/12/help-key-why-hd-video-looks-weird/ and a great excerpt:

Most film is recorded at 24 frames per second, but your LCD TV probably either displays at 60 fps or 120 hz (hertz is just a measurement of frequency per second). There are three main ways to cope with this.
First is to simply display each frame longer, this is the oldest technique in LCD tech. However, its undesirable side effects include the possibility of motion blur, or of judder. Judder is an artifact of adjusting the framerate and it looks like a sort of stutter in movement that would otherwise be smooth (a slow pan, for instance).
The second technique is one used on Plasmas and CRT TVs. Instead of showing a bright image the whole time, they display the frame, then a short frame of either darkness or a very dimmed picture. This alleviates much of the issue with judder and motion blur as it allows your brain to fill in the gap faster than you can consciously notice. It is also an old technique, and is used in theaters. It provides the traditional cinema feel.
The most recent and advanced technique is motion interpolation. Motion interpolation is a process by which your TV analyzes the current frame, and the next frame, then creates an average. It inserts these averaged frames in between. The result is extremely smooth motion with no motion blur and judder becomes almost non-existent. There are a few technical issues with this, including the possibility of ghosting or artifacts in rare cases. Also the smooth movement this creates is slightly disconcerting.
This overly smooth effect is called the "Soap Opera Effect" because the soap operas were often shot on cheaper film at 30 fps instead of 60.

Anyway, I'm satisfied to know why I was so confused, but now my eyes are used to it and I just love that TV.
 

Stephen Tu

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This overly smooth effect is called the "Soap Opera Effect" because the soap operas were often shot on cheaper film at 30 fps instead of 60.
That's not accurate, backwards actually. Soap operas are shot on *videotape* at 60 fields per second, rather than film which is 24 frames per second. Film is expensive, which is why the low frame rate, it's the lowest that was considered practical for smoothish motion + sound. Video is faster but cheaper. The interpolation basically makes the film look more like video.

You can get rid of the effect by turning off the "smooth motion/real cinema" interpolation features.
 

Dan Gill

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Thanks for the correction - my mistake...was typing too fast.

Yeah, the factory settings for the Vizio were absolutely horrendous, but I ended finding much better ones...while the exact numbers may not match for every TV, the ratios are potentially similar...lower backlight, lower sharpness, and low on the smooth motion as you mentioned. Thanks Stephen!

Picture Mode: Movie

Backlight: 18
Brightness: 49
Contrast: 52
Color: 42
Tint: 2
Sharpness: 3

Advanced Video
Noise Reduction: strong
Color enhancement: off
Advanced Adaptive Luma: Off
Enhanced Contrast Rato: off

Color Temperature: Normal
Red: 121
Green: 128
Blue: 118

Smooth Motion Effect: low
Real Cinema Mode: Precision
 

David Willow

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Dan,

I suggest turning off *all* the "enhancements". These normally don't enhance anything but the marketing materials. Get a copy of Digital Video Essentials or AVIA II and use it to tune your TV. I think you will be much happier with the picture afterward (even if you like it now).
 

Dan Gill

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There are quite a few versions on Amazon...just to be clear, is this the one you're suggesting?

http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Video-Essentials-Basics-DVD

 

Todd Hochard

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David Willow

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Todd,

Nice catch. I looked at the cover and it looks the same as mine (except for the HD DVD part).

Dan, make sure you get the version that works with your equipment. If you don't have Blu-Ray, I suggest AVIA II since it is newer.
 

Joseph DeMartino

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I second the recommendation for Avia II. I've used both it and DVE, and while I think DVE is an exellent product (it is what I normally use to calibrate friend's TVs and audio systems), Avia tends to be more "user friendly" for people who are not total HT tech-heads. Even my friend Amy, who has a digital audio studio at home and is very tech savvy, found DVE confusing and switched to Avia II to calibrate the plasma she bought about a month ago.

Regards,

Joe
 

Malcolm R

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Interesting. I was in Best Buy awhile back and they had a high-def system set up playing clips from various films. The first thing that popped into my head was that they looked like "soap operas" and that if that was how high-def was going to look, I wanted no part of it. It made all the clips look really cheap, like they were on video instead of film.

I should've known better than to assume that Best Buy had set up their display correctly.
 

Jeff Gatie

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Originally Posted by Malcolm R

Interesting. I was in Best Buy awhile back and they had a high-def system set up playing clips from various films. The first thing that popped into my head was that they looked like "soap operas" and that if that was how high-def was going to look, I wanted no part of it. It made all the clips look really cheap, like they were on video instead of film.

I should've known better than to assume that Best Buy had set up their display correctly.
Unfortunately, some people think all HD should look like Discovery HD Theater's shot-on-HD-video footage, and these motion sickness inducing interpolative algorithms and the washing of film grain on BD disks are the result. But at least we can turn the Cinemotionsickness stuff off; unfortunately, nothing can be done to restore the original 70mm film grain to washed out video game looking BD disks like Patton.
 

Dan Gill

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Dan Gill

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Finally got the configuration disc and am hoping to run the diagnostics this evening...will report back with my results ASAP. Thanks again for the recommendation.
 

Aminul

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I will make it short. Do this: Go to your tv's Picture option then look for Auto Motion and Turn it off.
 

Pigumon

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Chris Jacques
WOW. This has been bugging me for about as long as this thread has been going. To me it looks like when you play something in reverse, It just constantly looks unnatural, and now thanks to you, I know that IT IS! I was worried that when I upgrade from my 5 year old LCD I would no longer want to watch TV. I'll make sure to check that that horrible feature has an OFF switch. Thanks a lot! :D
 

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