TV makers rally against the soap opera effect they put on TVs

JC Torres - Jan 8, 2020, 9:43 pm CST
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TV makers rally against the soap opera effect they put on TVs

The television manufacturing industry is anything but boring, at least if you pay attention to the trends that come and go and sometimes return. Just when you thought all future TVs would be curved, flat ones are making a comeback but with or almost no bezel around them. Just when you thought that all future TVs would enforce the so-called motion smoothing feature, TV manufacturers are now rallying behind a movement that practically wants that feature gone or at least disabled for some content.

The intent behind motion smoothing is innocent enough. It’s meant to reduce motion blur by interpolating frames to produce a smoother flow. Unfortunately, that smoothing has hit a nerve not just with consumers but especially filmmakers and cinematographers that consider it an insult to their craft and their product.

It isn’t out of pride, though. Often the framerate and how a video plays is part of what they consider to be the filmmaker’s intent. Motion smoothing, which has been derisively called the “soap opera effect” or even the “BBC effect” is like ordering at some high-end restaurant and then adding more ingredients to the dish right in front of the chef. Suffice it to say, the prevalence of the feature on TVs has caused quite a number of entertainment guilds and alliances to push for this “Filmmaker Mode”.

Ironically, now TV makers are supporting a campaign that is telling everyone that the feature they themselves added is unwanted. But to be fair to everyone, the Filmmaker Mode agenda doesn’t really call for the removal of motion smoothing nor is it simply something that turns off motion smoothing. In theory, it is a group of settings that tunes TVs to play certain videos the way they were intended.

CES 2020 saw some of the biggest industry support for this mode. LG made it a bullet point in its announcement of its 2020 TV sets and Samsung and Philips have joined Panasonic and Vizio in supporting the program. When TVs will get an update that enables that, however, is an entirely different question.


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