Tom Cruise speaks out about the Soap Opera Effect

3 Stars

We would like a moment of your time to talk about Video Interpolation”

Published by

Kevin Collins

administrator

52 Comments

  1. The first comment (this was posted on Tom's official Twitter) is the best:
    https://twitter.com/franklez/status/1070124688595017730

    Note to friends – if you ever had me at your home and had motion smoothing on, if you went to the bathroom I turned it off and if I had time, or you were pooping, I turned off noise reduction and tuned your color and contrast settings. And peeled the hdmi sticker off the bezel.

    Franklez – the hero we need and deserve. :rolling-smiley:

  2. I don't mind frame interpolation. What is a crime against humanity is the horizontal stretching of a non-widescreen image (old movie or vintage TV show) to fill a 16:9 HDTV screen. It makes everyone looks like a Weeble. I must admit I do try to convince friends to correct that setting, but most of them don't like black bars on the side.

  3. Worth

    I've never understood what "problem" motion interpolation was trying to solve.

    I think there are just two fundamentally opposite approaches to watching content (and the same could be said for listening to audio content as well). Some people watch content, some people watch their TVs.

    For the people who watch content, the most important priority is to view that content as closely as possible to how its creators intended. This means putting up with black bars to preserve aspect ratio and accepting that a certain type of look is inherent to how the content was created.

    Other people watch their TVs. They spent good money on their television set, and want to take advantage of all of the functionality built into the TV. The point isn't to watch the most accurate version of the content; the point is to show off what the TV can do.

    That's always been the battle with playing media at home. I notice a lot of the same conversation happening among people who are avid music listeners and home stereo enthusiasts, where there's a similar tension between those who enjoy playing back exactly what's on the recording, and those who want to take advantage of every speaker and setting they have at home.

    I don't think we'll ever get the majority of people who want to watch the gear to care about artistic intent.

  4. RichMurphy

    I don't mind frame interpolation. What is a crime against humanity is the horizontal stretching of a non-widescreen image (old movie or vintage TV show) to fill a 16:9 HDTV screen. It makes everyone looks like a Weeble. I must admit I do try to convince friends to correct that setting, but most of them don't like black bars on the side.

    A then-girlfriend of mine went to dinner with a friend of mine and his boyfriend. At their townhouse, we got into a discussion of their TV and the boyfriend made a snide comment about how my friend liked 4X3 TV series in their original AR.

    He didn't say it that formally, but he left the impression that you'd have to be an idiot NOT to stretch out the 4X3 image to fill the whole screen.

    I guess the boyfriend thought I'd be on his side.

    Which I was not.

    Before I could respond, my friend gave me an imploring "please don't go there" look, so I didn't engage with the boyfriend to tell him that only idiots like Stretch-O-Vision.

    The friend later thanked me, as he knew how hard it was for me to ignore the boyfriend's arrogant idiocy! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. The irony of this is that at least one actual soap opera, All My Children, tried to make itself look like film artificially towards the end of its run. Some of those soul-crushingly bad Disney Channel sitcoms do it, too. They do it to a lot of old shows from the UK as well.

    I saw a demo in Best Buy that demonstrates what they mean. Some recent sci-fi film whose name I can't remember and didn't bother to look up and whose actors I didn't recognize. It didn't look like a movie. It looked like very good videotape. To be honest, it almost looked like the last episode of Webster in which he dreams of meeting Worf on the Starship Enterprise!* For a theatrical film, I expect better production values than a 30-minute TV sitcom for children. I think a lot of it is because our brains process any frame rate faster than 24 fps that way. It wasn't chosen arbitrarily.

    *For Star Wars fans (who don't have a descriptive demonym), think of Bea Arthur serving one more round at the Cantina. Or don't if it's too much of a trip down repressed memory lane. You get my point either way.

  6. RichMurphy

    I don't mind frame interpolation. What is a crime against humanity is the horizontal stretching of a non-widescreen image (old movie or vintage TV show) to fill a 16:9 HDTV screen. It makes everyone looks like a Weeble. I must admit I do try to convince friends to correct that setting, but most of them don't like black bars on the side.

    MeTV compromises on that point. They stretch the picture but only about half-way to wide screen.

  7. Some cable station, WGN perhaps, used to show Veronica Mars stretched in some weird way. The show was broadcast in widescreen, so I don't know why it was stretched (maybe they were showing 4:3 standard definition transfers). Anyway, I would go to my DVDs when I wanted a Veronica Mars fix.

  8. Worth

    I've never understood what "problem" motion interpolation was trying to solve.

    I'm fairly certain that the primary reason for the implementation of motion interpolation technology is actually live sports broadcasts (I know we call it the "soap-opera-effect", but I doubt most soap opera viewers have any reservations about the qualities of their picture). I think the idea is that with motion interpolation, the game image looks "better" because of the smoothing.

    Personally, I think it makes everything look horrendous, and I wish TV manufacturers would remove it or leave it off and bury it in a sub-menu or as part of a particular mode.

  9. I've found one thing that interpolation is good for. On the deluxe blu-ray of Oklahoma, the dream ballet in the roadshow version looks incredible with interpolation turned on. It was shot at a faster frame rate already, so the interpolation has more to work with than just 24 fps. Try it. It's a great bit to use to demonstrate your theater.

  10. Interpolation also helps smooth out the distracting strobe effect as the camera pans down the matte painting near the beginning of CASABLANCA, and at least makes the beginning of the shot match the smooth live action ending of the shot. (1:57 on the attached clip)

  11. Quite bizarre that we live in a world where TV manufacturers routinely include so many quality-killing image functions that no one asked for, wouldn't miss and would be better off without. Yet they drop 3D, which many find useful. Go figure.

  12. Keith Cobby

    Isnt Tom Cruise point applicable to LCD/LED televisions. My OLED has excellent motion handling, one of my reasons for buying it.

    So does plasma, but for some reason my plasma still has it.

  13. I guess I'm the odd man out. Several years ago I saw a set up at Best Buy that was playing U-571 on some big new LCD or plasma TV and it must of had the "soap opera" setting on because it looked so life-like, almost 3D. I sort of like the look. However I really haven't had that occur at home because I guess the TV I've used at home don't have the setting needed to make that soap opera effect kick in.

  14. JQuintana

    Several years ago I saw a set up at Best Buy that was playing U-571 on some big new LCD or plasma TV

    I saw the same thing at my Best Buy with U-571. Must be they were doing it on purpose for their in-store demos.

    I didn't like it.

  15. Again, it boils down to "intent" by the creators, and personal preference on the part of the audience.

    Take music, for example. I try to purchase the most "neutral" sounding headphones and speakers and amps, and play back from the highest quality source available (lossless if possible, high bit rate the better). I'm trying to get close to what the band, mixers, engineers and producers created. Others will EQ the heck out of their sound (more bass, more mid, more treble, whatever).

    Some people will like the SOE, and I'm not here to dictate what others tastes are like. But if you come to my house, the SOE will be off.

  16. When I finally got a UHD player that could decode Dolby Vision, the first movie with it I played was Spiderman: Homecoming. Since the Dolby Vision template hadn't been calibrated on my OLED, it came up and I immediately saw that motion interpolation was turned on. I had to pause the movie and go into the settings to get those features turned off in order for the movie to return to the "film domain." For a few brief seconds, I couldn't believe Dolby Vision that everyone had been raving about looked so completely horrible.

  17. If you have an LG OLED Matt, ALL of the default picture modes including the DV and HDR modes have motion interpolation, Dynamic Contrast, Noise Reduction, etc. turned on from the factory. You have to go in and disable them manually. Most TVs are configured this way out of the box.

  18. Malcolm R

    I saw the same thing at my Best Buy with U-571. Must be they were doing it on purpose for their in-store demos.

    I didn't like it.

    Costco did the same thing for their TVs with SW:E4ANH (AKA Star Wars (TM) 1977)… It looked like it was shot on tape ๐Ÿ™

  19. Honestly, though I have turned off motion interpolation on my TV, I do turn it on sometimes on lower-resolution material because I like the look of it. I don't use it on anything with a lot of detail, though, because the artifacting causes a noticeable loss of image detail and ugly ghosting during panning shots. It's one of those things that I think is an interesting idea, but that still has too many deficits to be something I'd use on a regular basis. I 100% agree that it shouldn't be set as the default on televisions, though, because the vast majority of people don't realize that they could actually get a better image with it turned off. Then again, I'm someone who much prefers the higher bitrate available on physical discs than via streaming while the average viewer probably can't tell a difference and just likes not having to get up, find a disc, and put it in a player. I used to get so agitated when I worked at a video store and people would rent movies that were letterboxed and then would complain about the black bars. I used to give them a demonstration using a folded dollar bill as a visual aide, but most people simply didn't care. They just wanted their screens filled. Unfortunately, that's why we see so much classic TV shown at least partially cropped or stretched out to fill the 16×9 screen. We, as HTF members, see films and shows as something more than casual entertainment, while the average viewer just doesn't care. It is what it is. I appreciate someone as high profile as Cruise at least making an effort to educate people, though. At least a few might listen to him, which is about all anyone can hope for.

  20. Wiseguy

    MeTV compromises on that point. They stretch the picture but only about half-way to wide screen.

    That's 16×10, and while I'm perfectly aware that I'm not going to be in the majority here where the prevailing view is that it "should be a crime against humanity to dare stretch 4×3", I actually prefer watching 4×3 in 16×10 where it stretches them some but not so much that they become crazy fat but gives you more screen real-estate. Yeah I know to probably most here that's still a crime. And GASP, I even sometimes have been known to go 16×9. I'm sorry but I HATE the black bars. I understand OAR – I understand the picture looks like it's supposed to in OAR. I also understand that on the size of my screen the picture is too small for my enjoyment in 4×3 and the black bars drive me batty and it's a more enjoyable watch for me to have it wider at 16×10 even if that means everything becomes a bit fatter. It's not that I don't think 4×3 is "right" and it's not that I don't think 4×3 is best as far as artistic intent and purity, but for my personal enjoyment I often stretch those suckers (which in my case mostly involves old TV shows). Let the rock throwing begin….

  21. chrislong2

    That's 16×10, and while I'm perfectly aware that I'm not going to be in the majority here where the prevailing view is that it "should be a crime against humanity to dare stretch 4×3", I actually prefer watching 4×3 in 16×10 where it stretches them some but not so much that they become crazy fat but gives you more screen real-estate. Yeah I know to probably most here that's still a crime. And GASP, I even sometimes have been known to go 16×9. I'm sorry but I HATE the black bars. I understand OAR – I understand the picture looks like it's supposed to in OAR. I also understand that on the size of my screen the picture is too small for my enjoyment in 4×3 and the black bars drive me batty and it's a more enjoyable watch for me to have it wider at 16×10 even if that means everything becomes a bit fatter. It's not that I don't think 4×3 is "right" and it's not that I don't think 4×3 is best as far as artistic intent and purity, but for my personal enjoyment I often stretch those suckers (which in my case mostly involves old TV shows). Let the rock throwing begin….

    That's why most TVs and blu-ray players have a fit to screen or similar option…It sadly doesn't work the other way for Academy ratio films/tV shows that have been forced to 16:9 or whatever.

  22. B-ROLL

    Costco did the same thing for their TVs with SW:E4ANH (AKA Star Wars (TM) 1977)… It looked like it was shot on tape ๐Ÿ™

    Costco here does it with an in-store looped sample of "The Black Panther". Looks clean and smooth as a whistle, but horrible at the same time.

  23. I just got a Samsung QLED and was afraid at first that the waxy, video feel was going to be there for good. I had had two plasmas before and never had to worry about it, while certainly being aware of it. I merely thought it was a bug in older TVs when HD began. Within minutes, I figured out how to remove the interpolation and was over my “buyer’s remorse.”

    I get people who think it’s good, but I also know people who have resisted getting expensive new sets because of these plastic-looking pictures. I just thought it was an old fad until two weeks ago.

  24. B-ROLL

    That's why most TVs and blu-ray players have a fit to screen or similar option…It sadly doesn't work the other way for Academy ratio films/tV shows that have been forced to 16:9 or whatever.

    Right, TV's and players do have that option, but it only actually works for TV signals and (most) DVD's, not blu-ray's. 1.33 content on blu is forced to be in a 16×9 container so you can't stretch it even if you want to and are forced to the black bars (which again many here would probably applaud but frustrates me). What really sucks is some companies are releasing DVD's now in that forced container thing too which is terrible because besides the removal of the choice, it also uses up DVD's already limited resolution to encode the black bars as a part of the picture instead of letting the player/TV add the bars.

    As for the soap opera thing, on my TV I find it to generally be helpful on low setting at smoothing out some of the jerkiness on some scenes, but it's not a one-size-fits-all thing and I totally understand where Cruise is coming from. I'd rather manufacturers defaulted to it off.

  25. I don't understand why you are unable to change the aspect ratio on your Blu-rays. I can change the aspect ratio on 1:33 Blu-rays to a variety of different ratios. I'm using an older Oppo player on an even older Panasonic plasma TV.

  26. I, too, am disappointed that they sacrificed 3D at the altar of all these other useless doohickeys, but they never learn, do they? They always make the same mistakes of expecting the technology itself to prop up bad scripts, clueless direction, and/or miscast actors. The difference is that now they actually got a viable way to bring 3D into the home that wasn't a let-down like the anaglyph experiments were in the 1990s; there, they tried it on almost everything from a Diet Coke commercial to a Married with Children episode, but it all looked flat and had distorted color. That probably prejudiced people against it along with a lot of laughable attempts at faux 3-D. That does not distort your idea of how movies look the way the "soap opera effect" does.

    Joel Fontenot

    Costco here does it with an in-store looped sample of "The Black Panther". Looks clean and smooth as a whistle, but horrible at the same time.

    There is such a thing as being too realistic. When it starts to look more "real" than real life, then you get into uncanny valley territory, and it becomes discomfiting to watch.

  27. Malcolm R

    I saw the same thing at my Best Buy with U-571. Must be they were doing it on purpose for their in-store demos.

    I didn't like it.

    I also saw this demo years ago and was the first time I was exposed to this feature. I hated it. Looked like behind-the-scenes video footage. I looked closer and was very confused until I realized what was going on.

  28. MatthewA

    I, too, am disappointed that they sacrificed 3D at the altar of all these other useless doohickeys, but they never learn, do they? They always make the same mistakes of expecting the technology itself to prop up bad scripts, clueless direction, and/or miscast actors. The difference is that now they actually got a viable way to bring 3D into the home that wasn't a let-down like the anaglyph experiments were in the 1990s; there, they tried it on almost everything from a Diet Coke commercial to a Married with Children episode, but it all looked flat and had distorted color. That probably prejudiced people against it along with a lot of laughable attempts at faux 3-D. But since it's still at the same frame rate, 3-D does not distort your idea of how movies look the way the "soap opera effect" does.

    There is such a thing as being too realistic. When it starts to look more "real" than real life, then you get into uncanny valley territory, and it becomes discomfiting to watch.

    Holy heck that rtings slow mo analysis is damning for the SOE. That why it looks so…โ€offโ€ for lack of a better word.

  29. larryKR

    I don't understand why you are unable to change the aspect ratio on your Blu-rays. I can change the aspect ratio on 1:33 Blu-rays to a variety of different ratios. I'm using an older Oppo player on an even older Panasonic plasma TV.

    I'm not doubting you (maybe the Oppo's use some trick) but every 1.33 blu I own, unlike most DVD's, actually ENCODE the black bars as a part of the picture information stored on the disc (with DVD's it's the player/tv that provide the black bars). Thus with 1.33 blu's it's a part of the actual picture sent to the player – the player is sent 16×9 even if the show is 4×3. So unless the player is really smart (maybe your Oppo is, my LG certainly isn't), it's going to assume the blackness is part of the picture (because it IS encoded as part of the picture) and thus throws off its ability to change ratios correctly (if it allows you at all, which mine does not). When it gets really extra frustrating is when studios accidentally also apply the same Blu authoring to DVD's which has been happening some in recent times by mistake or laziness (i.e. reportedly the 1st season of Step By Step WAC release). If you encode the black bars on DVD with it's already extremely limited resolution, you are using up precious resolution on black bars instead of picture information.

  30. RichMurphy

    I don't mind frame interpolation. What is a crime against humanity is the horizontal stretching of a non-widescreen image (old movie or vintage TV show) to fill a 16:9 HDTV screen. It makes everyone looks like a Weeble. I must admit I do try to convince friends to correct that setting, but most of them don't like black bars on the side.

    I've said this to relatives, at whose home I can't watch the television because they have everything stretched to fill the screen, and they look at me with a blank look, like a dog trying to understand the gibberish you are explaining to them. I've given up. I treasure seeing all films in the aspect ratio they were filmed in or as close to it as is available.

  31. chrislong2

    I'm not doubting you (maybe the Oppo's use some trick) but every 1.33 blu I own, unlike most DVD's, actually ENCODE the black bars as a part of the picture information stored on the disc (with DVD's it's the player/tv that provide the black bars). Thus with 1.33 blu's it's a part of the actual picture sent to the player – the player is sent 16×9 even if the show is 4×3. So unless the player is really smart (maybe your Oppo is, my LG certainly isn't), it's going to assume the blackness is part of the picture (because it IS encoded as part of the picture) and thus throws off its ability to change ratios correctly (if it allows you at all, which mine does not). When it gets really extra frustrating is when studios accidentally also apply the same Blu authoring to DVD's which has been happening some in recent times by mistake or laziness (i.e. reportedly the 1st season of Step By Step WAC release). If you encode the black bars on DVD with it's already extremely limited resolution, you are using up precious resolution on black bars instead of picture information.

    I think the guy with the Oppo was just talking about zooming, not stretching Blu-ray content. However my 4K Samsung TV has a rather nifty function (which I never use) which expands the picture vertically OR horizontally so you can basically make the geometry any freaking shape you want! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  32. Some of those zoom settings are really useful. For instance, you can take a film released in full aperture and zoom in to make it 1.66 or 1.85. I used this recently to watch the Blood Island movies in an alternate aspect ratio. It's released in 1.33, but it works great as 1.66 too.

  33. Josh Steinberg

    Or, if the film was put on disc in the wrong aspect ratio, the zoom function can help fix that.

    Yes, and for non-anamorphic DVDs (like Good Morning, Miss Dove), the zoom function is also helpful to take the windowboxed image to the edges of the screen.

  34. Gee Tom I just want to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout in 3D at home as I did in the theater but your studio has decided that option has been taken away from me so I'm not a happy consumer. No 3D no sale as far as I'm concerned.

  35. SFMike

    Gee Tom I just want to watch Mission Impossible: Fallout in 3D at home as I did in the theater but your studio has decided that option has been taken away from me so I'm not a happy consumer. No 3D no sale as far as I'm concerned.

    I believe that should have read that the studio has decided that 3D at home is not profitable enough to press discs for. It's about the mighty dollar and 3D had a short fun life but it has ended pretty much and likely won't return.

Leave a Reply