What is the Soap Opera Effect?

  • by Rachel Hansen

Soap opera effect is a customer lingo for a motion interpolation-induced visual effect, a mechanism used by high-definition televisions to view content at a higher refresh rate than the actual source. The purpose of motion interpolation is to give a more lifelike image to the spectator. That being said, some consumers know that the image is too lifelike and that motion interpolation makes TV films look like raw video feeds. (Traditionally, soap operas have been filmed on screen, not on film.)

The soap opera effect on your TV set may seem like it’s a mistake or bug, but the truth is, it’s a feature built into loads of modern TVs on purpose. A few separate descriptions are named, but the technology behind such a process is named video interpolation or smoothing of motion. To solve the problem, it was added to newer LED and LCD TVs.

Including LCD models, older TVs (plasma and old CRT models) have no problems with motion blurring. Several models appear to be more sensitive than others, but the blur gets worse when the display has to show a show or movie with rapid movement (such as video games or sports telecasts). Distorted picture information is the end product. Manufacturers have chosen to use screens that have higher refresh rates to overcome this. They switch from the common refresh rate of old TVs of 60Hz to 120 Hz of models of LCDs.

How Does Motion Interpolation Work?

If a TV screen has a refresh rate of 120Hz (120 frames per second), but the TV would display a film shot at the normal 24 frames per second, the vendor must find a way to fill in an additional 94 frames per second. Yet another way of doing this is to have each film frame replicated by the television five times (5×24=120).

Another approach is to make a computer program digitally analyze simultaneous frames on the television and use the details to construct intermediate frames. The addition of these frames is called interpolation, and the soap opera effect is induced by them. Many suppliers allow viewers to switch off interpolation and force the TV to repeat five times the same frame or use a more conventional 3:2 pulldown.

This produces an impact that is more cinematic. The trade name given to motion interpolation is dependent on the seller. Regrettably, with this frame rate, most video sources are not delivered. Thus, motion smoothing was performed to falsify this higher frame rate by adding images between the existing frames per second. Your TV set, which analyses the picture and guesses what sort of images can be added, does this. In certain OLED televisions, motion smoothing has also been used.

Are There Benefits Of Motion Smoothing?

Motion smoothing works just fine when it comes to video games and sports programs since they are created and filmed in a different way. They are mostly filmed at just 24 frames per second for TV shows and movies. And they were unnerved as people viewed The Hobbit at 48 frames per second instead of 24 frames per second. They thought it was unnatural and looked too real to some individuals. The response is based on what you watch. It does offer an edge when it comes to sports shows and video games. It makes it look smoother to the action. When it comes to another series, it may not be the same, however. Yet, although some individuals are more vulnerable to motion smoothing, others may not even mind it. It depends on how they film the movie or TV show.