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Telecine soap opera and artifacts

There are some folks who prefer listening to vinyl records run through a tube amplifier rather than a CD with a modern amp. There is a similar situation with video that is starting to show up with high definition fast refresh displays. Help Key: Why 120Hz looks “weird” at Crunch Gear takes a look and, in the process, provides a good rundown on telecine and the problems inherent in the display of frame by frame video.

The problem is that video captures a time series of images. When these are displayed in sequence, your brain interpolates between them to help you see a continuous scene with motion. The display technologies do what they can to help your brain in its process of smoothing the transition from one image to the next. What is happening now is that there is a technology from 24 images per second movies to displays that can show 120 or more images every second.

TV was a step in this technology. It provided 60 images per second by each image was only half of a full image. That is where interlace technology was used.

A modern 120 Hz LCD TV can show five images in the time its source puts up one. What should it do? Show the same image five times and then switch to the next? Fade out one image and fade in the next? Insert a black image or two between successive images (like movie projectors do)? Use the new technologies inherent computing power to make a series of interpolations from one image to the next to smooth the transition?

This last option may smooth things out but it is different from what people are used to like vinyl records and tubes are different from modern sound systems. The smooth interpolation technique produces what is called a ‘soap opera’ effect. Things look just too good to be true.

The comments to the blog post have some other good thoughts about how media is changing. Going from film to electronic media gets into changes in film grain, gamma, depth of field, and all sorts of other things. That, in turn, requires media producers to think about things differently. That kind of different thinking is starting to show up in subtle ways that will influence viewers in different ways.

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