Today I learned about motion interpolation

Our tv at home is around 10 years old, maybe older. In general, I don’t watch tv on my tv, and if I ever do, there’s a 99% chance it’ll be sport, hence my visible disgust as I turned on the tv in my hotel room today, excited to watch Kill Bill: Volume 2. 

I still remember the first time I came across motion interpolation. I was drunk, at a mate’s place, and Spiderman was on tv. Ten seconds in, I was wondering what the hell was going on, and why the movie was looking so… real or non-cinematic. I put it down to my lack of sobriety. Nope, that wasn’t it at all.

If a television screen has a refresh rate of 120Hz (120 frames per second) but the television is going to display film that was recorded at the standard 24 frames per second, the vendor must figure out a way to fill in an extra 94 frames each second.

One way to do this is to have the television repeat each film frame five times(5×24=120). Another way is to have a computer program in the television digitally analyze concurrent frames and use the data to create intermediary frames. The insertion of these frames is called interpolation and they are what cause the soap opera effect.


Ah yes, “the soap opera effect”. That is indeed what it reminded me of.

I can understand this being good for sport, but wow, it completely ruins the look of film. I don’t care if it’s “better”, technically, it looks cheap, and terrible! Apparently this is a setting that can be turned off, but the Park Hyatt’s custom remote for these Sharp TVs don’t allow me to access said setting.

Then I remember reading Peter Jackson recently saying he’ll be filming The Hobbit at 48 frames per second, and am wondering if I’ll feel the same way about that… I don’t think I completely understand it yet, so I’ll hope not.

Well, at least I learned something, and am craving my next visit to the cinema even more.

A fantastic post on framerates in cinema and TV, how they’ve evolved, and the future http://bit.ly/efMoX4


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