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The “soap opera effect” in reference to today’s image processing and broadcast technologies is a colloquialism for a feature known alternately as motion smoothing, motion interpolation or by other proprietary terms. Motion smoothing represents a technological advance that has come with its own pros and cons relevant to its consumer uses.
People have started to refer to the motion smoothing issue as the “soap opera effect” because the video quality resembles that of a typical soap opera. Motion smoothing helps to reduce blur and provides a crisper picture, which can be seen as augmenting footage of sports or other broadcasts. However, because of the traditional way that consumers watch cinema or television programming, for many, motion smoothing is not an optimal way to view digitally streamed content. Celebrities and others have spoken out about the perceived inferiority of the “soap opera effect.” Manufacturers provide menu options for turning off this feature.