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What Is the TV 'Soap Opera Effect?'
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to

Q. I just bought a new TV and the picture looks really good but sometimes a movie looks like it was shot in video. A friend tells me this is the soap opera effect. What does that mean and how can I get rid of it? -- Aaron, Des Moines, Iowa.

Aaron, the soap opera effect is the term display experts have coined to describe a feature included in some later models that's designed to eliminate or smooth down motion blur.

As you may know, many LCD and some LED sets experience motion blur when displaying sports or fast movement in action films. Your set's picture will momentarily blur around the motion on screen when the fast movement occurs. The blur does not last long, but it can be annoying.

To eliminate motion blur, TV makers have installed motion interpolation in new sets, which help smooth out the blur, but in so doing, can make almost any program look like it was shot in video, which is why it's dubbed the soap opera effect. (Soap operas are shot in video.) This may not bother you, but it does upset some viewers who appreciate the film-like qualities of movies and other shows.

If you are having a problem with the soap opera effect, there are some things you can do.

Go into your set's menu and find your refresh rate setting and set it at 60 Hz if you can. (This would be in the set's Picture settings.) At 60Hz, you should eliminate the Soap Opera Effect, but you might experience more motion blur. If you're going to watch a sporting event or an action film, you might not want to do this.

Another solution:, the web site for the Fox affiliate in Green Bay, notes that each TV has a different name for Motion Interpolation. For example, Sony has Motion Flow; Vizio and Sanyo have Smooth Motion; Samsung has Auto Motion Plus.

Go to that setting and lower the level or turn it to off. Then check out your picture. If the picture seems less video-like but doesn't experience motion blur, you got it.

See, even soap operas can have happy endings.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at or at 703-505-3064.

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