Is Frame Interpolation Important?
January 20, 2009,
When to use Frame Interpolation
Among the 1080p projectors that have frame interpolation, the Epson 6500 UB produce a more obvious digital video effect than do either the Panasonic AE3000 or the Sanyo Z3000. Thus, we would not use the 6500 UB's frame interpolation when viewing regular movies. However, this does not mean that it has no application. For example, if you happen to be a fan of animated films, the digital video effect is irrelevant. The Pixar movie Cars has a reasonable amount of judder and flicker when played at 1080p/24. But when you engage the frame interpolation system on the Epson 6500UB, it has nothing but a beneficial effect on the image. The picture is smoother and more stable. There is no soap opera effect to be concerned about since animated films are obviously not real. Frame interpolation can be beneficial for all animated films, from Toy Story to Shrek to Finding Nemo to Ratatouille.
If you watch a lot of sports in HD on channels broadcasting in 1080i, you may find frame interpolation particularly attractive. For whatever soap opera effects are present in the video system you have, they are irrelevant in sports--you want that maximum reality effect. Of course, Fox Sports, ESPN, and ABC all broadcast in 60p format, so frame interpolation is not needed. But with sports broadcasts in 1080i, it can help.
Similarly, music concerts on HD discs may be enhanced with frame interpolation. Again, if there is any soap opera effect, it is a good thing--you want the Eagles Farewell 1 Tour to look as real as possible. It looks amazing in HD DVD, and hopefully they will release it in Blu-ray one of these days.
In the end, even if the frame interpolation system on your projector does have a particularly exaggerated digital video effect, this can work to your advantage in sports, music concerts, and animated films. You can always turn it off if you don't care for what it does to your traditional movies.
When it comes to traditional films, the digital video effect can be disturbing. We find that the Epson 6500UB produces a noticeably greater degree of undesirable "reality" than do either the Panny AE3000 or the Sanyo Z3000. Furthermore, on the Epson 6500UB there are occasional ghosting artifacts and other oddities. We don't see these nearly as frequently on either the Sanyo or the Panasonic projectors. For these reasons we consider the Epson implementation of frame interpolation, at least in its current iteration, to be the least successful of the three.
Conversely, the Panasonic AE3000 has the most robust and powerful frame creation engine that has appeared so far. When dealing with a 1080p/24 source, it generates three interim frames for every real frame, and plays them back at 96 Hz. (Panasonic is the only projector vendor that does this so far; both Epson and Sanyo generate one interim frame for each real frame.) In addition, there are two settings for Frame Creation on the AE3000--Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 1 evaluates the movement between two successive frames to generate its interim frames, and Mode 2 evaluates the movement between three successive frames. Mode 2 is clearly superior in its results, and again, neither Epson nor Sanyo have this capability.
Panasonic developed their own proprietary algorithms for Frame Creation in house. The result is an extremely smooth and artifact-free display of film. And in addition, the digital video effect is remarkably subtle in comparison to the Epson 6500UB. When the AE3000 is projected onto a 120" screen, the image looks like very clean film, not an ultra-real CNN HD video broadcast.
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