How To Remove the “Soap Opera Effect” From Your HDTV
If you’re lucky enough to get an HDTV this holiday season, then you may be in for a bit of a shock when you turn on your TV and find that the sharp, clear image quality you expect has instead been replaced with the kind of production quality you’d find in Days of Our Lives. It’s a common complaint heard in increasing amounts these days as more people make the switch to HD, but what is it, and more importantly, how do you make it go away?
The cause of this cheap looking quality on your would-be-HDTV is a technology included in most new TV sets these days called “motion interpolation.” Essentially little more than a marketing ploy, the TV uses high refresh rates of 120hz, 240hz or 480hz, which is significantly higher than the most common refresh rate of 60hz. To be able to achieve those kind of refresh rates, motion interpolation software will average the brightness and color of two frames and inserts a third between them, thus changing the refresh rate and increasing the number frames per second. This new frame rate now matches that of TV shows shot on video, rather than the more expensive alternative, film, and in turn now matches it for quality as well.
To put it simply, your image quality now looks like a cheap soap opera because a very clever bit of software has turned the frame rate of Game of Thrones into the exact same as General Hospital. Although motion interpolation was created to account for display motion blur and provide a more fluid viewing experience, the reaction this technology has received from most people has been far from favorable. The “soap opera effect” has instead been widely chided as a step backwards, and most comments about it are requests on how to disable it.
So if you want to get the most out of your HDTV and get rid of the soap opera effect, all you have to do is find the motion interpolation setting on your TV. It goes by a variety of names depending on your brand, so here’s the list:
- Hitachi – Reel120
- Insignia – DCM Plus, for Digital Clear Motion
- Kogan Technologies – MotionMax
- LG – TruMotion
- AOC – Motion Boost
- Mitsubishi – Smooth
- Panasonic – Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC)
- Philips – HD Digital Natural Motion
- Samsung – Auto Motion Plus
- Sharp – Fine Motion Enhanced, AquoMotion, AquoMotion Pro
- Sony – MotionFlow 100 Hz, 100 Hz PRO (XBR series, Australia),
- Toshiba – ClearScan
- Vizio – MEMC (Motion Estimation, Motion Compensation)
- Sceptre – MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation)