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Why do Films on LCD look like Video but like Film on a Plasma ?

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by SatinJacketBoi, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. SatinJacketBoi

    SatinJacketBoi Member

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    Can anyone help me answer this question? I'm frankly shocked at how bad feature films or shows shot on film look on my parent's new 37" Loewe LCD screen.

    What is the reason for this decidedly lackluster look? Why does anyone put up with that??

    XX

    SJB
  2. stormy

    stormy Member

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    Well there must be something wrong with the LCD (or its just poor). Its like anything, although here I am sure everyone will slag off LCD till the cows come home but I have seen plenty of LCDs which handle film fine, my old Sony D3000 being one of them, my parents Panasonic LCD seems to handle it fine too, its got very poor blacks but its motion and film handling are as good as my G10.

    While my G10 is great at motion handling, and has much better blacks than both the LCDs I have compared it to recently I can't say I was "blown" away by the supposed superiority of Plasma film handling when I got it.
  3. Chippy99

    Chippy99 Member

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    There could be a load of reasons, and what I am about to say may be irrelevant...

    But it is interesting to note that plasma and LCD do in fact work completely differently in terms of how the picture is displayed and refreshed.

    Plasma works a bit like a CRT in that some charged particles hit the phosphor which then glows brightly and immediate starts to diminish in brightness. It gets dimmmer and dimmer and dimmer until the next discharge when the whole cycle starts over.

    LCD doesn't work like that. If a pixel is set to White (for example) it stays White until it is set to something else. i.e. it will stay white forever unless told otherwise. So an LCD with a refresh rate of 1 Hz (for example) would not flicker, whereas a plasma most certainly would! (Of course at 1Hz, the motion would be a bit jerky - to say the least! - but you wouldn't actually get any flicker per se.)

    In a cinema a full frame is displayed and then you get a brief period of black whilst they advance to the next frame and then the next frame is displayed. i.e. it's inherently flickery.

    It may be that your eyes find what plasma is doing more similar to the cinema, compared to the lack of flicker with LCD.
  4. SatinJacketBoi

    SatinJacketBoi Member

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    Interesting - the latter posting could certainly be an explanation. What puzzles me is why people accept this aesthetically inferior look - films on LCD look nothing like films in the cinema. I'm mean REALLY don't!

    Am I the only one who is appalled at how bad LCD looks? There can't be many like me - because if there were, they'd stop making LCD sets altogether.

    I find this really baffling - the set my parents bought (which will soon be exchanged to a Panasonic plasma) is actually a very expensive (for LCD) €3,000 Loewe 37" set. It should look the best an LCD can look - and probably does ... that's what stuns me.

    Am I a plasma-elitist clown who needs to come down from his high-def horse?

    Un-puzzle me, please someone. WHY does LCD look so bad, bandy, videoy and pixelish? WHY does it ruin every film I show on it by making it look like it was shot with a cheap camcorder???

    (Thanks for the replies so far - but I want more thoughts from all you tech savvy nerds out there :)).
  5. roman-r

    roman-r Active Member

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    I think I know exactly what you mean.

    Arguably the LCD is producing a better overall picture with it's more "through the window" look, but with all the benefit of Film i.e. frames instead of fields. However, I also prefer a Plasmas more cinema like (filmic) look.

    Interestingly, about a month ago I had a chat with a really helpful chap in John Lewis (Cannary Wharf). He said it was mostly due to LCDs extra processing. He showed me a £1000 42" Philips LCD that recently was reduced to £700. As it was displayed, i.e. with "Pixel plus 2" on, it was very much like digital video in the sence of a "through the window" look. But most interesting was when he turned the "Pixel Plus 2" off. It then looked very similar to the Panny G10 Plasma just next to it. My current view is with agreement in what he showed me. I think many LCDs don't have the on/off processing feature or is just never seen with the features off.
  6. SatinJacketBoi

    SatinJacketBoi Member

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    Hi Roman,

    I agree that it must be in the processing - and I did look through all the options on the Loewe to find something I could turn off. There was one feature that sounded promising but it turned out to be a picture "enhancer" of different kind.

    My rents are getting a G15 - looks very nice and I have a Pana plasma myself at home that's a couple of years old. Really love it - HD sources look fabulous.

    I will beg to differ with you over the "thru the window" look, you mention. I find it in no way appealing - I have not yet seen anything that looks better on a LCD than on a good plasma. It's rare that I find something that I so wholeheartedly dismiss.

    Maybe LED is better? Though I hear that some of the same artefacts are found on LED screens as well. I have not yet had the opportunity to make a side-by-side comparison.

  7. roman-r

    roman-r Active Member

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    I too find it less appealing than what we are used to in the cinema and on CRT and now Plasma.

    However, from my experience in showrooms, LCDs can produce a "Through The Window" look better than a Plasma and although it's not a look I prefer, I appreciate the argument that it's an advancement. I guess the point is it's making the scene as close to real life as possible, as apposed to as close to the Cinema Experience as possible.
  8. roman-r

    roman-r Active Member

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    having said that I own a Plasma - Panny PW7 480P one - and with HD-DVD and BR via a DVDO VP50 I still find nothing in the showroom that makes me feel i should upgrade it.
  9. perceptionist87

    perceptionist87 Member

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    Good question.

    There are many factors that come into this equation:

    First and foremost, the LCD technology can't produce a picture with high contrast.
    By this I mean the picture is too uniform in brightness and has no highlights, because the display is backlit.

    The way colour is reproduced is a subtraction from white, since the backlight is white.
    In order to produce plain red, the shutters in front of the backlight have to block out all of the spectrum except red. This just so works - but when it comes to gradiation and shadow details, any backlit display will fail due to its incapacity to simultaneously cancel out the backlight and display slight colour naunces. The backlight still shines through (backlight bleeding) and swallows any attempts to display shadow detail.

    In contrast, both Projection (as in cinema) and plasma apply the method of additive colour rendering.
    The starting point is a plain black screen (canvas in cinema) and thereupon colour is applied in the channels rgb.
    The black areas remain completely unaffected by the coulour generation process - and that's it.
    The impression of deep black is improved in additive colour rendering, because one's eye focuses on the highlights (bright image areas) which causes the pupil to contract due to higher exposure and thus the black areas appear even darker.
    This is perceived as impressive and is a effect missing in backlit displays.

    The rest of the line are processing flaws, insufficient peak brightness, motion blur etc... the list is long
  10. Chippy99

    Chippy99 Member

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    Your LCD description may be accurate, but your cinema one is not.

    Ironically, film is quite like LCD in that a bright white light (the projection lamp) is masked by different coloured pieces of film. Just like an LCD, the projection lamp is always on and black can only be as black as the mask in front of it. In the case of film at the cinema, again ironically!, its actually not that black.

    Next time you go and watch a sci-fi at the movies, just notice how black the blacks are: they really aren't very black at all. We seem to be less intolerant at the movies than we are in our own homes! People usually criticise LCD for poor black level response, when in fact compare to the reference standard, i.e. the cinema, actually it's not bad at all!

    Of course the other "problem" at the cinema - indeed with any front projection system -is that the white screen can only ever appear completely black in a totally dark room, which of course the cinema can never be because of emergency exit signs and what have you.
  11. SatinJacketBoi

    SatinJacketBoi Member

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    Thanks for all the replies in this thread.

    I completely see the veracity in the comparison between 35mm and LCD - makes perfect sense. However that's where the comparison stops - 35mm projected at 24fps looks immensely different than anything seen on LCD. The shutter effect (and the stock) creates the motion picture look, which anyone shooting narrative on video has tried to emulate at one point or another (with mixed results - the Red cameras re GREAT though - just shot a film on it).

    Film looks like film because it's, well, film. For some odd reason LCD manufactureres have opted to fix something that's definitely not broken and digitally "enhance" the image with the (in my mind) decidedly disasterous effect that 24fps material, such as feature films or TV shot on film (or with 35mm emulation) looks like cheap video.

    This is what's so incomprehensible to me.

    Plasmas render 24 fps material infinitely better and truer - and I agree that, say, my Blu Ray "Dark Knight" looks better on my Pana plasma than the 35mm release print I saw in Copenhagen.

    The chap that sold my parents the Loewe LCD was rather astonished that I didn't like the product - and this is a guy who's run his own hifi store for 25 years! This of course makes me wonder: Am I really that picky? Am I a nerdy tech freak? Has my work in the entertainment industry turned me into an elitist video connoisseur, who should just shut up and put up? ;)

    I'm sure it has - and that I'm all of the above - but I would argue that even someone who were only a fraction of the nerd I am could see these problems. My MOM can see it now - clearly! :) ... so why do people accept this LCD crap en masse?

    Hmmmm ... maybe we'll never know.
  12. S Bibby

    S Bibby Member

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    Hi,
    It also might be worth pointing out that LCD has to has to manage the response time, which causes judder - 100Hz LCD TVs also look different depending on the settings. Plasma/CRT can mitigate the effect by scanning or refreshing the screen less often.

    I don't think it is a problem with LCD in particular, some people just don't like the effect. You can get 100Hz processing on CRT and Plasma TVs with the Pixel Plus/Digital Plus feature (Philips and Sony TVs).
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  13. roman-r

    roman-r Active Member

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    I agree.

    My perception is LCD and all their additional processing, ,can often make the picture generally more "life-like", all-be-it with the likelyhood of the occasional artifact.

    That is not my preference and is what I think the issue here is :rolleyes:

    Funny but when it comes to music i.e. Hifi, I go out of my way to try and get as close to how it would sound in real life but in my livingroom. But with movies, my preference is to keep to as close to a cinema experience as possible, rather than creating a real life view in front of me.

    That's my current perception of LCD vs Plasma but history as told me I often get it all wrong :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  14. kokoon

    kokoon Member

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    i don't know what it's called on Loewe tv sets, but this effect you're seeing is most probably due to a MCFI (motion-compensated frame interpolation) algorithm, which inserts additional calculated frames to smooth the motion - by raising the framerate. all the tvs (lcds and plasmas) that i've seen so far have the option to turn this off. sony calls it MotionFlow, philips calls it Natural Motion, panasonic calls it Intelligent Frame Creation... search for something like that in the settings and kill it.

    edit: and yeah, i couldn't agree with you more, it's an abomination and a blasphemy. it's wrong on so many levels. i'm over it now, but i used to be like you and was puzzled all the time how on earth would anyone NOT be repulsed by that video-look (or "soap opera effect") that those MCFI algos inherently produce. just turn it off and try to forget and unsee what you saw.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  15. kokoon

    kokoon Member

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    okay i looked through a user manual of a Loewe Connect 32 Full-HD+ 100 and found the feature's called "DMM" in the picture settings. try turning that off.
  16. perceptionist87

    perceptionist87 Member

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    Well, LCD isn't like cinema.
    However, you're right, cinema also applies subtractive colour rendering.

    But the argument that the starting point is a white canvas is not quite right.
    What happens to a white canvas when you turn out the lights ? > it's black again, and only the light rays not fenced off by film in front of the projection lamp hit the canvas in the end. So, the end result you see on the canvas is additive.

    As pointed out before:
    In a darkened environment (cinema) the pupil dillates to increase apperture. Therefore, bright parts on the canvas are perceived as amplified, perceived contrast is greatly increased.
    And the black doesn't need to be so inky in cinemas, because the bright parts in the picture will catch your eye.

    LCD on the other hand, is no projection method and you watch directly into the backlight.

    LCD works on desktop screens with a birghtness of maybe 200candela, then the shutters can cancel out the backlight to create black, that brigthness is sufficient if you sit nose-on.
    But Sharp had this hilarous idea to use the same technique in TVs... With brightnesses of 500-100 candela. That's simply when the shutters in front of the backlight can't block all the light anymore, ergo backlight bleeding occurs which results in the picture being fubared.
    Somehow this technology flourished, mainly because people had a certain acceptance against LCD, as they knew it from their PC screen.

    I had a Philips top-range LCD which used this smooth motion or what so ever, horrible - turn such enhancements off, for crist's sake.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  17. SatinJacketBoi

    SatinJacketBoi Member

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    You're were quite right - I turned it off and everything looks much better. Still crap compared to the G10, but definitely better. The video-look is gone.

    Thanks to everyone for their contributions - it's been very enlightening! :thumbsup:
  18. Chippy99

    Chippy99 Member

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    Of course it is. My point was merely that you initially describe cinema images being simply an additive scenario, whereas as I said above, this is not so.

    Merry Christmas all!
  19. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    I agree wholeheartedly with the the OP, i had no inkling of the video look for films with LED....

    We were bought a 40inch LED samsung last week, and i am not a happy bunny, films look shocking, its like watching Holby City.

    Unfortunately, there is nothing that i can turn off that gets rid of this look, and now im stuck with it. I wish i had my old CRT back. :(
  20. toodeep

    toodeep Member

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    Your new LED TV is of course a LCD TV with LED illumination (and isn't to be confused with organic-LED TVs, which are the real thing). If the TV is unsatisfactory then return it.
  21. petet66

    petet66 Member

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    Technical point - yes the lamp in a film projector is always on but a metal mechanical bladed shutter spins in front of the lamp so that twice a second the lamp is effectively switched off. Also a thick layer of unexposed film emulsion is pretty opaque - more so I would hazard a guess than a sheet of LCD baed upon my personal experience. You are correct to suggest that ambient light can affect a cinema screen but this is pretty minimal near to the screen for that reason. Also projector bulbs are very bright so that the high light levels close down the viewers' irises thus increasing the perception of black. This can be affected by excessively long dark sequences in movies though when your irises will widen to compensate.

    A point of note though in this obsessive quest for the perfect black that us plasma-owning cinephiles helplessly pursue: take a look around the world around us. How perfect are the blacks in the real world? Ambient light, reflections and the effectiveness of the rods and cones in our eyes often do their best to comprimise the colour black at every opportunity.
  22. arfster

    arfster Member

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    Definitely some truth in that. However there are some real world things that don't reflect light - eg dark clothing fibres. On a screen with poor black levels, those don't look good.

    Also night scenes - in real darkness objects and people appear to emerge out of near nothingness, not swathes of grey :)

    These are extreme examples rather than typical ones of course, I think for the most part any screen than can manage <0.1cd/m2 black is sufficient most of the time.
  23. Chippy99

    Chippy99 Member

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    The amount of time the light source is obscured by the shutter is much less than the time during which it is not. And anyway, that has nothing to do with the contrast ratios and black levels achieved, which is entirely due to the inherent property of the film and how well the ambient light is controlled. Interestingly the opacity of film and its ability to portrary black, is pretty poor compared to plasma and even to modern LCDs!

    Transparency film (as opposed to negatives) manages between 8 and 9 stops of dynamic range, i.e. a maximum contrast ratio of only about 500:1 Compare that to the range a Pioneer Kuro can produce - from perhaps 1000 cd/m2 down to 0.003 cd/m2 or around 300,000:1

    Cinema is no longer the reference standard that many would seem to believe it is.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010

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