You have just purchased a new TV, set it up and excited it for the first time. But suddenly, disappointment. The photo looks funny. Sitcoms and drama & # 39; s look & # 39; too real & # 39; from. Movies look like they were shot with an old camcorder. What's wrong with your new TV? Do not worry. This is not caused by 4K resolution, high dynamic range (HDR) or even the panel technology in the TV.
What you see is called video interpolation, also known as the Soap Opera effect, and it is a bit even Tom Cruise wants you to be aware of . The good news is that it's easy to fix and you can use it to help you enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows as intended.
What is the Soap Opera effect?
From the way people talk about you might think the Soap Opera effect is a kind of bug, but it is actually a purpose-built feature that you find in many modern TVs. It goes under many names, as we will describe later, but the technology behind it is known as video interpolation, or rather, smoothing motion. A feature that has been intentionally added to most modern LCD / LED TVs has emerged as a way to solve a problem, not to create one.
Unlike older CRT and plasma TVs, LCD screens have motion blur problems. Some are more sensitive than others, but when an LCD TV needs to show fast motion – for example, fast moving sports or video games – the blur may be excessive, unclear image details. To help combat this problem, TV manufacturers began using screens with higher refresh rates, switching from the original 60 Hz refresh rate used in older TV & # 39; s to more modern 120Hz panels.
Because most video sources – including broadcast and streaming – that were not supplied with this frame rate, however, motion was made smooth as a way to "falsify" a higher frame rate by inserting images between the actual 30 or 60 frames per second that come from your cable box, game console or antenna. These new images are created when your TV analyzes the image and digitally guesses which new images can be inserted. This frame guessing game is even used on some OLED TVs.
Motion smoothing works great for sports programming and video games due to the way content is recorded and / or produced, but we are actually used to seeing lower frame rates in many TV programs & films, most of which are recorded at 24 frames per second. This is why people were nervous to watch The Hobbit at 48 frames per second as opposed to the 24fps that we had seen on film reels for decades and that was later simulated by digital cameras & # 39; s and projectors. Many people who saw the film thought it looked unnatural and often said it seemed too real . Sounds familiar? What's more, displaying 24fps content with frame interpolation for 120Hz screens is a mess with the cadence, because the display adds frames that never existed. It is literally fake and removes the jutter between the frames that we actually expect to see. That's why it can be so annoying.
That said, smoothing motion is not always a bad thing.
The benefits of smoothing motion
As mentioned above, smoothing motion can be great for watching sports and video games because it leads to smoother looking action. In fact, even if the Soap Opera effect disturbs you (some people are more sensitive to it than others), you might find it preferable for sports.
Not everyone suffers from smoothing motion, and some people even enjoy watching TV programs, depending on how they are filmed. There are even some people, no matter how rare they are, who prefer to watch movies with motion smoothing on. Then there are people who – for some reason – don't notice it. If you read this article and wonder why you've never seen this so-called Soap Opera effect, you might be one of them, and that's good too.
If you do not notice any smooth movements, or if you prefer, it will not hurt to leave it on. Motion smoothing is not harmful to your eyes or something like that (as many as those who suffer from it may believe something else). If, on the other hand, you cannot stand it, you can turn it off as follows.
Kill the Soap Opera effect
In almost all cases, all you need to do is adjust one setting on your TV and the Soap Opera effect has long since disappeared. The hardest part will be finding exactly what that setting is called, and then making sure that it is disabled for all sources.
The Name Game
Every TV manufacturer seems to use its own term to smooth motion. LG calls it TruMotion, Samsung calls it Auto Motion Plus, Sony calls it MotionFlow. Apart from a few marginal cases, the setting for your TV probably has the word "movement" somewhere in the name. A notable exception is Hisense, who calls his movement fluently UltraSMR. It is this wild west naming problem that forms the core of most people's confusion about the Soap Opera effect, and how to disable it. It is such a common problem, the UHD Alliance has recently suggested that all TV manufacturers add a button to their remote controls called "Filmmaker Mode". If you press this, all forms of motion damping are immediately disabled, regardless of what the TV maker calls it or how deeply hidden. that setting can be. LG Electronics, Panasonic and Vizio have all supported the proposal, but so far no manufacturer has implemented it.
Until the Filmmaker mode exists, you can find out how motion is smoothly displayed on your TV and turn it off:
It is almost certainly under the image settings, but exactly where it is located goes from manufacturer to manufacturer. change. You may even have a button that performs the equivalent of Filmmaker mode on your remote, but with the general trend of simplifying TV remote controls, this probably doesn't apply if you have a newer TV.
To find motion smoothly, you must go to the Settings menu and find the Image Settings submenu. In many cases, motion smoothing is shown at the bottom, after you have passed more traditional settings such as brightness, contrast and sharpness. In some cases you may have to go to a separate area, sometimes called advanced image settings or something similar.
Some TVs only use motion smoothing in certain image modes, so your TV may use it in the Sport or Vivid image setting, but it automatically turns off in the Cinema setting to get the Soap Opera effect. to prevent. This can make things easier, but if you are the type that would like to adjust your own TV settings for the best possible image for your environment, you should look for the setting and turn it off.
In addition If you use the built-in apps in a smart TV, your customized picture setting may not apply to streaming content on apps such as Netflix or Hulu. In this case, you may have to turn the setting off again while in the app. In some cases you will find a "Global" option for all settings adjustments, which we recommend, since it should apply all the settings you make in all sources.
Clean the blur, lose the soap
So you have removed the dreaded Soap Opera effect, but now you see that things look a little more blurry than before. For some TV & # 39; s this is only a consideration and you need to handle it. Others, however, especially those on the higher side, offer blurry technologies that are not dependent on motion smoothing or offer a range of smoothing that can be adjusted so that it is not as shocking. In short, the more settings your TV offers, the greater the chance that you can reduce blur and vibration (a stutter effect that is most noticeable in camera pans) without treating unpleasant side effects.
Do you read this as part of your research before buying a new TV? View our TV buying guide and our list of the best TVs you can buy.
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