Sunday, January 18, 2015

A First World Problem, if ever there was one...

Our TVs at home are all a good number of years old now - in fact we still use in one room a plasma screen that must be pushing 8 or 9 years, and is a very "standard" definition screen that still somehow gives quite satisfactory enough viewing with DVDs.  The other big screen TV is LCD, but I think a fairly low end one.  It does night time scenes from DVDs particularly poorly.

At Christmas we were watching Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD on my sister's new-ish LCD TV, and while I was sitting there thinking how clear and crisp the image was, my wife pointed out that it was actually too clear - it was like watching very high quality video, not a cinema movie. Once it was pointed out to me, it did become a little distracting.

I noticed that this was also the case with all the HD TVs at the department store this afternoon too - they were all were showing a silly Avengers movie, and they all made it looked rather like video.

But I see on Googling the topic that this is a common issue people have when they first get their shiny new HD TVs.

An article in Wired from last August explains:
This annoying little phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “soap opera effect,” and it’s a byproduct of your TV’s motion-enhancing features. Thankfully, the effect can be turned off, and that’s probably a good idea when you’re watching movies. While these smoothing features can make a few things look better—scrolling tickers, sports, and HDTV test discs, for example—our eyes and brains expect something very different when we’re watching movies. A slower frame rate is one of them.
It then goes into a rather technical description of what's going on, and how to try to make sure your TV isn't making some sublime cinematography look like a high end Days of Our Lives.

I see that this was discussed in the SMH in mid 2013, but I didn't pay much attention to an article describing a problem I hadn't yet seen.

Anyway, now that I realise it's an issue, I'll know how to deal with it when we get a new TV.  We're kind of hoping that happens soon, as the LCD TV did an odd flicker out the other day, but revived itself.  It would be good to be able to watch movies with night scenes again...

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