Filmmakers Declare War on ‘Soap Opera Effect’, Announce New TV Mode


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No one, as far as I can tell, really likes post-processed motion interpolation, also called motion smoothing or the “Soap Opera Effect” (SOE). It can work well for certain kinds of broadcasts, like sports, but its benefits in this arena are outweighed by the generally disliked, overly smooth presentation everywhere else. Unfortunately, modern TVs often ship with motion interpolation enabled, and most consumers aren’t aware of the feature or how to turn it off. If a new push from the UHD Alliance is successful, it’ll be easier to disable the option in the future.

Motion interpolation refers to the process of generating and inserting new frames of animation between the existing frames that were actually captured by the camera. (Interpolation means “to insert into something else.”) While the term “Soap Opera Effect” is often used to describe this type of video, there is a difference: Old-school soap operas were often recorded on videotape at 60 frames per second because their daily broadcast schedules made working on film impossible. Higher frame rates gave these shows a distinct look, but they weren’t creating and inserting new frames in-between existing ones. The difference between actual SOE and motion interpolation is that while interpolation looks like SOE in terms of smoothness and fluidity, it can also introduce artifacts that didn’t exist in the original material.

The following video gives an illustration of the difference between turning motion interpolation on versus off in two different scenarios:

The UHD Alliance has announced plans for a new Filmmaker Mode to be supported on consumer sets in the future. A number of major Hollywood directors weighed in approving the change, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Martin Scorsese, and Christopher Nolan.

One of the problems with motion smoothing is that it’s often implemented in TVs under very different names. For example, LG calls it “TruMotion,” Vizio labels it “Smooth Motion Effect,” and Panasonic calls it “Intelligent Frame Creation.” All three companies are supposedly on board with the Filmmaker Mode option, which would disable these and other post-processing effects to provide a movie-watching experience closer to that intended by the director.

The idea behind Filmmaker Mode is that it will take effect automatically when appropriate content is detected or else be easily accessible as a remote button. Either option would be an improvement over having to dig through a TV’s various menus. In aggregate, Filmmaker Mode is supposed to:

  • Apply a D65 white point to both SDR and HDR content
  • Maintain source content frame rate and aspect ratio
  • Disable motion interpolation
  • Disable overscanning
  • Sharpening and noise reduction are both disabled
  • All other image ‘enhancement’ processes are disabled

“Having a single name,” says Warner Bros Vice President of Technology Michael Zink, “is essential to delivering the message to consumers that if you want to see movies the way they were intended to be seen, you should watch them in Filmmaker Mode. You shouldn’t have this distinction we had before where ‘you should watch it in X mode on this TV, or ‘Y’ mode on that TV’. That dilutes the message. So a single name was really important.”

Some of these features may be important on lower-end TVsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce to prevent them from showing flaws or defects that manufacturers otherwise hide with post-processing tricks, so it isn’t clear if Filmmaker Mode will be a win for everyone. But provided the feature can be disabled or enabled at will, it should offer a much closer experience to what the filmmaker intended — and the ability to turn specific features back on if needed, if the final product doesn’t look good on your specific display.

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Analogue’s Mega Sg is the Sega Genesis Mini alternative for the discerning retro gaming fan – gpgmail


The official Sega Genesis Mini is coming in September and hopes to capitalize on some of the retro gaming hype that turned the Super Nintendo and NES Mini Classic editions into best-sellers. But there’s already a modern piece of hardware out there capable of playing Sega Genesis games on your HDTV — plus Mega Drive, Master System and Sega CD, too.

The Analogue Mega Sg is the third in a series of reference-quality, FPGA-based retro consoles from Analogue, a company that prides itself on accuracy in old-school gaming. It provides unparalleled, non-emulated gameplay with zero lag and full 1080p output to work with your HD or even 4K TV in a way no other old-school gaming hardware can.

For $189.99 (which is just about double the asking price of the Sega Genesis Mini), you get the console itself, an included Master System cartridge adapter, an HDMI cable and a USB cable for power supply (plus a USB plug, though, depending on your TV, you might be able to power it directly). The package also includes a silicon pad should you want to use it with original Sega CD hardware, which plugs into the bottom of the SG hardware just like it did with the original Genesis. It includes two ports that support original wired Genesis controllers, or you can also opt to pick up an 8bitdo M30 wireless Genesis controller and adapter, which retails for $24.99.

Like the Nt mini did for NES, and the Super Nt did for SNES before it, the Mega Sg really delivers when it comes to performance. Games look amazing on my 4K LG OLED television, and I can choose from a variety of video output settings to tune it to my liking, including adding simulated retro scaliness and more to make it look more like your memory of playing on an old CRT television.

Sound is likewise excellent — those opening notes of Ecco the Dolphin sounded fantastic rendered in 48KHz 16-bit stereo coming out of my Sonos sound system. Likewise, Sonic’s weird buzzsaw razor whine came through exactly as remembered, but definitely in higher definition than anything that actually played out of my old TV speakers as a kid.

Even if you don’t have a pile of original Sega cartridges sitting around ready to play (though I bet you do if you’re interested in this piece of kit), the Mega Sg has something to offer: On board, you get a digital copy of the unreleased Sega Genesis game “Hardcore,” which was nearly complete in 1994 but which went unreleased. It’s been finished and renamed “Ultracore,” and you can run it from the console’s main menu as soon as you plug it in and fire it up.

Analogue plans to add more capabilities to the Mega Sg in the future, with cartridge adapters that will allow it to run Mark III, Game Gear, Sega MyCard, SG-1000 and SC-3000 games, too. These will all be supported by the FPGA Analogue designed for the Mega Sg, too, so they’ll also be running natively, not emulated, for a true recreation of the original gaming experience.

If you’re really into classic games, and care a lot about accuracy, this is definitely the best way to play Sega games on modern TVs — and it’s also just super fun.


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