TV makers hope to kill “soap opera effect” with new TV mode

The UHD Alliance, a group of filmmakers, distributors, and TV makers, has announced a new viewing mode coming to future TVs that hopes to both eliminate one of the worst (non-smart) parts of modern TV viewing, known colloquially as the “Soap Opera Effect.” The new mode, called Filmmaker Mode, promises to make it easier for viewers to watch movies and television shows as their creators intended them.

The alliance developed the mode in conjunction with over 400 filmmakers, including creators like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson, and it will have consistent naming across TV brands, and it will likely be possible to activate through metadata embedded in shows and movies, or with a one-button activation that would skip over the need to tweak settings.

UHD alliance to introduce Filmmaker Mode

Filmmaker Mode will adhere to the “frame rate, aspect ratio, color and contrast, and encoding in the actual media” so that televisions can read and display the content accurately. The mode is quickly picking up support, with LG, Panasonic, and Vizio already onboard. Vizio announced that it will even include the mode in its 2020 TVs. On the studio side, Warner Bros., Universal, and Amazon Prime Video are all on board.

The Soap Opera Effect is the opposite of Filmmaker Mode

Even if you aren’t familiar with it by name, you’ve probably seen the so-called Soap Opera effect. The feature at the core of this blight on televisions is called motion smoothing or motion interpolation. This feature adds frames between existing frames by guessing at what should be there. It’s not a worthless feature; it can help bring televised sporting events to life. But for just about everything else, especially movies and games, it provides no benefit. In games, it adds input lag and artifacting. For movies, it makes them look like, yes, soap operas.

Soap operas were recorded on video, rather than film, at a framerate close to 60 frames per second, compared to the 24 frames per second used in most movies. 60 frames per second is great for games and sports, but makes movies look really weird; people often describe them as hyperreal. Motion interpolation tries to smooth out lower-framerate video by adding in frames, turning a 24FPS movie into a 60FPS soap opera.

It’s easy to turn this setting off, and TVs already have a movie mode that will disable this setting. Most TVs these days also have a “game mode” that disables all post-processing in favor of minimizing input lag.

When we talk about displays here, we’re usually talking about PC-focused displays rather than televisions. For some of us, this is just going to make setting up our parents’ televisions easier, and seeing televisions in public less painful. For movie fans, though, the Filmmaker Mode feature will make getting an ideal movie-watching experience as dictated by the filmmakers themselves that much easier.

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psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

I’m firmly in Douglas Trumbull’s camp: not only is HFR an inevitable development for cinema, but it need not just be “OK we film in 60FPS now” but a mix of multiple frame rates and shutter angles within the same film, and within the same frame to achievable a desired effect. It’s hard to watch the Showscan Digital demo and not feel the same.

psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

There’s a 60FPS version available online (https://vimeo.com/105838602) that’s about as close as you;re going to get to the <=120FPS VFR projected version.

MBTP
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MBTP

FINALLY! TOOK SO LONG!

odizzido
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odizzido

[quote]60 frames per second is great for games and sports, but makes movies look really weird[/quote]

lolwut? I never thought I would see the day when something like that was written on TR. 24FPS is garbage, always has been garbage, and always will be garbage. The only valid reason I think might be possible these days is it’s likely cheaper to do special effects on fewer frames. 24FPS serious looks like trash whenever I see it. It’s awful. I mean, I can’t say it enough, it just sucks so hard.

DASQ
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DASQ

I think they meant movies filmed in 60FPS and displayed in 60FPS have a strange effect to them.

MBTP
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MBTP

You don’t grasp what you are talking about…
Ignorance is a bliss when people stay shut.

Rurouni
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Rurouni

24fps is stupid. Actually, if a movie director pick 24fps for a good reason, then I’m fine with it. Having said that, picking 24fps just to have that movie look is not a good reason. I’ll tell you why it is bad. For a movie with very few fast motion (like a drama), 24fps is fine. But action movie? Forget it! I once sit near the front at a cinema (because the seats at the back were already full). I’m thinking that it should still be bearable since I can live without having to read the subtitle (I’m from a… Read more »

Sweatshopking
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GUIZE I LOVE WHATEVER YOU HATE

willmore
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willmore

Let me get this strait, the TV makers who pushed this crap for the last decade so extensively that you cannot buy a TV without it and almost always is it enabled by default, now want to look like White Knights by crusading against it?

The inmates are running the asylem.

Ben Funk
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Ben Funk

OK thanks for this comment. I thought I was missing something, but no, you hit the nail on the head right here.

usacomp2k3 (AJ)
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usacomp2k3 (AJ)

I for one love interpolation and specifically sought out a TV that had it when I upgraded last year. It makes things so much more realistic.
I think the whole idea of “preserve the cinematic nature” is just dumb. Why would I want a medium that looks worse to the eye? That is ridiculous. Interpolation makes motion so much more natural and pleasing to watch. Especially slow pans. Beautiful!

EzioAs
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EzioAs

I agree. I even use SVP on pc to watch all of my videos.

grimdanfango
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grimdanfango

Like with any filter, I feel this is a bit of a back-to-front view… Taking any recorded medium, and filtering it into a form besides that which it was recorded as can only ever *lose* information. You may get an aesthetic effect that you find visually pleasing, just as if you were to apply a watercolour-filter or a posterize-filter to your movies, but by definition, you’re degrading the image in the process. Interpolation may make it *subjectively* more pleasing to watch, but it’s definitely not more natural. Either you like mangling up your images to fit your personal taste, or… Read more »

TK
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TK

Unfortunately source material often can’t be presented exactly intended due to resolution and frame rate differences between the content and the display it is being presented on. In the case of 24 fps content, it rarely matches the refresh rate of the tv and even more rarely when viewing on a monitor. Worse yet refresh rates are often not multiples of 24 so motion judder becomes a visible artifact. Doing frame interpolation in these cases reduces the visibility of artifacts and the presentation becomes much closer to the original source material. Arguing that any filtering is always bad is like… Read more »

grimdanfango
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grimdanfango

Nearest neighbour is still a filter – a very naive and horrible one.
Displaying video at framerates other than their native encoded one, as you point out, is also effectively a kind of temporal nearest-neighbour.
My point still stands. Filters are always destructive to a greater or lesser degree.
Clearly, this initiative to actually display content at the encoded framerate is the lesser of all evils (until they stop with the “cinematic” nonsense and start using HFR properly, which after The Hobbit screwed it up could be decades)

TK
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TK

If frame rates and resolutions match then I completely agree that no filter is best. Just pointing out that this is often not the case making filters beneficial.

I actually don’t mind 24fps content as long as it has enough motion blur but modern content always seems to have little or no motion blur making the content very jerky looking.

psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

“Taking any recorded medium, and filtering it into a form besides that which it was recorded as can only ever *lose* information.”

[ANGRY NYQUIST NOISES]

Klumpo
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Klumpo

Plus here. Motion interpolation makes panning shots smooth and clear. The same goes for action scenes. Easier to follow them and actually see what happens.

I have a HTPC and set Media Player Classic – Home Cinema to change the refresh rate of the hdmi output to match the videos rate; 24fps to 24hz, 60fps to 60hz etc and everything is smooth and without any stutter.

I have an LG 65C7V.

Of course, I’m very susceptible (spelling sorry) to low framerates; I love my 165hz monitor and am looking foward a 120Hz android phone.

Urfriend
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Urfriend

I think there’s also a subjective component. Many say motion interpolation should be killed but to me this is an extremist self righteous i-am-a-purist-so-I-should-say-motion-interpolation-is-evil thing. I myself want to throw up when I see 24 content. I own a pana dx902 which is one of the best fald lcd. I use the native app so every software issue is out of the picture. I can replicate the same discomfort by watching the same content on any other tv. Everything 24fps is so damn jerky. Action scenes are unwatchable for me. Everything is hella blurry, what’s the point of increasing static… Read more »

BigTed
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BigTed

I sneakily turn image interpolation off at friends houses when they’re not looking. Not every hero wears a cape.

Ben Funk
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Ben Funk

Not the hero they deserved but the one they needed right now.

MBTP
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MBTP

I do the same! And go as far as changing all the settings sneakly.

grimdanfango
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grimdanfango

*Sigh* While in general this is a great idea, it also serves to further entrench the silly notion that there’s something innately bad about high framerate video, and that there’s some magical “cinematic” quality about the number 24. Motion interpolation is awful, no doubt, and it should be killed with fire. HFR *should* be the next step in cinema, but the only significant attempt – the Hobbit movies, have cemented the idea in most people’s minds that it makes things look bad. The reason the Hobbit HFR looked bad was because it WAS bad… the cinematography was awful, and the… Read more »

chuckula
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chuckula

I shoot all my drone footage in 4k60 and there’s even an option for 120fps if I drop the resolution down to 1080.

I like the realistic look of 60fps and I can always drop it to a lower frame rate in post if I want to be “cinematic”.

Scott
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Scott

Except… The Hobbit looks better at 24fps. Cinematography doesn’t explain that. There is something appealing about lower framerates and motion blur.

admapk17
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admapk17

No there isn’t. HFR needs to become the norm.

grimdanfango
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grimdanfango

That’s exactly the point I made… The Hobbit looks better at 24fps because the VFX were horrible, and the lower fidelity you get from watching at 24fps avoids shining a light on that fact.
I work in VFX. Everyone loves fog and haze, because you can hide a lot of cheap effects behind it. 24fps is just temporal fog.

MBTP
Guest
MBTP

Actually, no 24 fps induce your brain to work on a different state and lowers your concious level bringing the “magic”. The second fact is that 24 fps was brought by the film cameras and cinemas used film projectors to reproduce it as well, there is an inhrent motion blur between frames on film, this is not replicated correctly in most panels, which can cause disconfort indeed. The complexity of the topic is far beyond what has been discussed here in the comments. 24 frames at 24hz with the “optimal” motion blur, can produce a better experience. How this mode… Read more »

chuckula
Guest
chuckula

Yes, but you can’t really kill anyone in a soap opera because their evil twin always resurfaces a couple of years later.

Mr Bill
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Mr Bill

Interpolated from the hidden information between the frames?

Erebos
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Erebos

You were expecting an evil twin, but it was ME, DIO!

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