Is Frame Interpolation Important?
In the past four months we've seen several new 1080p projectors released with a feature known generically as frame interpolation. The new Epson 7500UB and 6500UB have it, as does the Sanyo Z3000 and the Panasonic AE3000. Epson calls it FineFrame, Sanyo calls it Smooth Motion, and Panasonic calls it Frame Creation. But it is all the same concept: the projector evaluates the differences between individual frames of film or video, and creates interim frames to be inserted between the real frames in the source. The objective is to reduce motion judder and provide a cleaner, more artifact-free viewing of film and video material.
Two complaints have been circulating about frame interpolation technology. One is that it can make a movie look more like digital video, something which people are calling, somewhat derisively, the Soap Opera effect. In essence, the complaint is that it makes a film, which has a slightly surreal and sensual quality, look like a CNN Situation Room HD broadcast, which by comparison is hard, cold, clear, and real (sometimes disturbingly real). When James Bond begins to look like Wolf Blitzer, you know you have a problem.
The second complaint is that, while frame interpolation can reduce or eliminate much of the film judder we see in movies, it sometimes introduces other artifacts which may be just as problematic. For example, instead of the judder, we may see some ghosting as subjects move across the screen, or some unnatural disintegration of the picture during momentary fast pans of the camera.
These complaints are well-founded. Some frame interpolation systems do indeed produce these undesirable side effects. But if it is done well, the picture can be virtually free of artifacts while it retains that mystical film quality. Ideally, what you will see is a clean, stable, but still filmlike image that many will find irresistibly engaging.
Not All Frame Interpolation Systems are Created Equal
We've said this before and we cannot emphasize it enough: Don't make the mistake of seeing a frame interpolation demo on a particular video product and assume you've seen what it will look like on all video systems. Each vendor approaches it differently. They use different algorithms to generate the interim frames. Some products generate more created frames than others. These differences cause the type and frequency of artifacts to vary from product to product.
In addition, the digital video look which people want to avoid in traditional movie viewing, varies greatly from product to product. It tends to be more exaggerated on smaller screens than on larger ones. If you are projecting a 60" diagonal image, the effect will be more obvious than if you use that same projector to throw a 120" image. The digital video effect can sometimes be more obvious and distracting on plasmas and LCD TVs than it is on the projectors we've seen.
|Contents:||The Technology||When to Use It||The Importance of Frame Interpolation|