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Why 4k TVs Make Movies Look Like Soap Operas

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I was at a local electronics store the other day,  and paused for a moment in front of two TVs... One 4K, the other 1080p. As I stood there I asked my friend which looked better to her.  She looked at me and said the 1080p one.  Strangely enough I agreed with her.  The 1080p set looked more cinematic.  Whereas the 4k set looked too real... like a local news broadcast. After a little research I think I understand why this is. These dam sets have been fitted with a special chip that removes cinematography... well not quite but almost.  Read on below:

 

http://www.gq.com/story/why-does-my-new-tv-make-movies-look-like-soap-operas

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Nothing to do with 4K or 1080p really - manufacturers have this smoothing effect on 1080 TVs as well. And yes, it looks horrible. 

Correct. When I watched a movie (Netflix) the first time at the gf's place, I was really irritated by the TV settings. It was a 50" Samsung LCD with every "image enhancing feature" turned on, so it was oversharpened, oversaturated and calculated a load of in-between images to create a smoother image - or exactly the effect you described above. The weird part was, she didn't even notice it until I pointed out how much different it looks on my plasma TV with everything turned off and more conservative image settings.

It's kinda interesting how we obsess about image quality and motion cadence, yadda yadda, when most consumers can't even see a difference.

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Correct. When I watched a movie (Netflix) the first time at the gf's place, I was really irritated by the TV settings. It was a 50" Samsung LCD with every "image enhancing feature" turned on, so it was oversharpened, oversaturated and calculated a load of in-between images to create a smoother image - or exactly the effect you described above. The weird part was, she didn't even notice it until I pointed out how much different it looks on my plasma TV with everything turned off and more conservative image settings.

It's kinda interesting how we obsess about image quality and motion cadence, yadda yadda, when most consumers can't even see a difference.

They can see the difference, they just can't put there finger on what it is... Plus if it's newer it must be better... Right?

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I totally adore the new 65" 4K screens. Just comes down to setting them up right, 'cause indeed, ouchihuahua, does it look terrible out of the box. Unnatural colors, motion, sharpness, just wrong. Especially with Samsungs. I really like Panasonic. Sony and Philips do pretty well too. Kind of hate/loving LG.

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Correct. When I watched a movie (Netflix) the first time at the gf's place, I was really irritated by the TV settings. It was a 50" Samsung LCD with every "image enhancing feature" turned on, so it was oversharpened, oversaturated and calculated a load of in-between images to create a smoother image - or exactly the effect you described above. The weird part was, she didn't even notice it until I pointed out how much different it looks on my plasma TV with everything turned off and more conservative image settings.

It's kinda interesting how we obsess about image quality and motion cadence, yadda yadda, when most consumers can't even see a difference.

It varies. There are people who actually cant see the difference, like people who cant tell the difference between SD and HD. I call them blind, or at the very least imperceptive.  Then there are people who know something is different but don't know what it is.  I asked my laymen friend how he was liking his massive new tv.  He looked sheepish and said 'It's ok, theres just one annoying thing, It makes everything look like a cartoon" . I turned off all the bulshit enhancers and turned the settings down to medium and he was much happier.

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There are people who actually cant see the difference, like people who cant tell the difference between SD and HD.

Agreed.  I know a couple of them.

It's quite strange, but not so different from people who can't really tell the difference between a highly compressed MP3 -- and the original music file. 

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These dam sets have been fitted with a special chip that removes cinematography

lmao p much

the true horror of this whole thing is that ppl buy tvs with this motion smoothing/hfr bullshit turned on, and they never know to turn it off, and so they get used to it, and then when I turn it off for them theyre like 'No we liked it better the other way' ?

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Didn't Philip Bloom post something about this several years back with HDTVs? I find the artificial 60fps more nauseous than anything. All this "TruMotion" crud can just be disabled, but it's funny how companies feel the need to make it a main feature. It's probably true that it works great for sports... and nothing else.

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I was watching the (impressive) demo on a Panasonic 4K TV which was apparently shot on the GH4. The salesman assured me that if I bought the tv and the GH4 then I too could produce stuff as good... I wanted to ask exactly where I would find the money for the lenses and crew...

The immediate response to the image was to be astounded - the "detail" (feathers of birds) was incredible. But after a while it looked over sharpened and too analytical. Jury is out...

Tim

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It's probably true that it works great for sports... and nothing else.

its an important discussion for us to have

i think that high frame rates suck. ive never watched an implementation of hfr footage that improves the viewing experience for me

nowhere: not in feature films, not in sports, not in porn

it looks like puke. videoey puke. its disorienting and gross. and its tiring to watch

who disagrees? am i wrong?

if so, link me to an example of hfr footage being awesome

glove-slap-homer-o.gif

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Well, do any broadcast channels use 24 fps? If not, then you are not watching "cinematic" footage anyway, and are watching some higher frame rate instead.

I think this argument about "cinematic" and "soap opera" effects is just an example of Pavlovian conditioning. People have been conditioned by being raised on low frame rates in the cimema to expect artificial blur and consequently think that it s the way that it should look like, but real life is more like a high frame rate clip. They conflate the high productions values in cinema with frame rates and think that the quality comes from the frame rate, when in fact it comes from the production value.

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Well, do any broadcast channels use 24 fps? If not, then you are not watching "cinematic" footage anyway, and are watching some higher frame rate instead.

I think this argument about "cinematic" and "soap opera" effects is just an example of Pavlovian conditioning. People have been conditioned by being raised on low frame rates in the cimema to expect artificial blur and consequently think that it s the way that it should look like, but real life is more like a high frame rate clip. They conflate the high productions values in cinema with frame rates and think that the quality comes from the frame rate, when in fact it comes from the production value.

then I suggest you go and watch the star wars teaser on both,  side by side.  You will notice that somehow,  production value is magically absent on the 4k set.

But if not, at least you can save a lot of time and expense by recording all your productions on your smartphone...  Because it will look the same. 

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if so, link me to an example of hfr footage being awesome

144hz gaming on a gsync monitor LOOKS EFFING AWESOME!

That said, I hate those "enhancements" on movies. People spend hundreds of hours grading shots and making everything look as they do and then with one click of a button, everything comes out all wrong on those effing tv's.

but real life is more like a high frame rate clip. 

There's your problem. Hobbit looked more like "real-life" but the problem was that it looked like an amateur theatre production. Because in "real-life" the actual image they record on the set is what it is. People talking in front of a set with a bunch of huge artifical lighting. Holding plastic swords that weigh nothing.

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Imagine going into a huge multiplex and seeing all their monitors in the lobby with the "enhanced" frame rate turned on. 

So, big budget cinema in a big cinematic complex on big cinematic screen...looking non-cinematic. 

Good job AMC.  Even the purveyors of cinema are unable to escape their ignorance and will ruin cinematic IQ    

The slow frame rate is NOT a liability. The altered rate of motion pictures that don't match our vision's reality is what heightens the suspension of disbelief.  That's kind of important when your watching a narrative like, I dunno, James Bond, for example.  

Its not because it "looks better" than 60p, it's because it takes the edge off our perception of realism.

Movies are an escape from reality, it's a manufactured narrative. The illusion is diminished by too much visual accuracy.

All that said, the Japanese love high frame rates, and would rationalize FOR it.  

I just can't.  I like the magic of slow.

 

Well, do any broadcast channels use 24 fps? If not, then you are not watching "cinematic" footage anyway, and are watching some higher frame rate instead.

that's a pretty big misunderstanding of how it works. 

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It has nothing to do with 4k vs. 1080p. The "true motion" stuff and the factory settings give it the soap opera look, everything is too bright and over saturated. The first thing I do is turn off the motion enhancements and tweak the picture settings.

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its an important discussion for us to have

i think that high frame rates suck. ive never watched an implementation of hfr footage that improves the viewing experience for me

nowhere: not in feature films, not in sports, not in porn

it looks like puke. videoey puke. its disorienting and gross. and its tiring to watch

who disagrees? am i wrong?

if so, link me to an example of hfr footage being awesome

 

I'm the other way - I find 24p like a strobe as soon as movement or a pan kicks in. So much so at the cinema I feel bordering on a fit. Some of the new films out offer a couple of showings in HFR - I'm on that like a shot. My new sony A7sii does 4k at 25/30p, besides the fact I have no UHD TV to watch it on, I'm afraid to shoot with it to downscale as I'm so used to silky smooth 1080 50p.

I suppose it's down to how an individual's eyes and brain works - If I look slightly away from my TV I can see the flicker of the refresh........

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I'm the other way - I find 24p like a strobe as soon as movement or a pan kicks in. So much so at the cinema I feel bordering on a fit. Some of the new films out offer a couple of showings in HFR - I'm on that like a shot. My new sony A7sii does 4k at 25/30p, besides the fact I have no UHD TV to watch it on, I'm afraid to shoot with it to downscale as I'm so used to silky smooth 1080 50p.

I suppose it's down to how an individual's eyes and brain works - If I look slightly away from my TV I can see the flicker of the refresh........

It's all a matter of taste.  I don't dislike 60p at all.  In fact, for some corporate stuff, I think it's ideal.  But for cinema I've always been attracted to the low-fi imperfection of 24p film.  Maybe it from growing up and watching most of my movies at a crusty drive-in theater?

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