HDMI Handshaking, Soap-Opera Effect, Cal Without Tools

Secret Handshake
I have an LG 50PK750 plasma TV connected to a Sony Blu-ray player via HDMI. When i switch inputs from the cable box to the BD player, I may or may not get sound. It seems to work more often if I switch the input and then power up the player. No one I've talked to, including an LG tech, has any knowledge or advice about this. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Brad Gonzales

It sounds to me like an HDMI handshaking issue, and I'm surprised the LG tech didn't think of this. If that's the case, there might not be much you can do about it, other than turning the player on after switching to its input on the TV. Running both signals through an A/V receiver or switcher might help, but I don't really know.

I asked HDMI Licensing about this, and while they can't diagnose or solve your problem specifically, they did offer these possibilities:

If you are attempting to use a single remote control to control both units, this could perhaps be a problem with CEC (Consumer Electronics Control, HDMI's protocol for integrating the operation of connected devices, which is called SimpLink by LG and Bravia Sync by Sony). You might try enabling or disabling various menu items associated with this feature.

Two other thoughts came to mind after surfing the forums a bit:

1. Try selecting different sound formats in the BD player. For example, maybe you can get something minimal working every time it switches with stereo only. Not ideal, but it's a start.

2. Sony and other manufacturers periodically release firmware updates for their products. Perhaps the BD player needs an update (or maybe the TV as well, if it can accept updates).

By surfing the forums, you could well find others who have the same problem with the same equipment, and perhaps a more definitive solution. Or maybe one of our readers has had a similar experience and can shed some light on your predicament.

Soap Scum
Everything I've read tells me that the "soap-opera effect" seen on 120 and 240Hz LCDs is not caused by the refresh rate but by such things as Samsung's Cinema Smooth and Sony's Motionflow features. Can you give me your perspective and correct me if I'm wrong?

Tony Toscano

You are exactly correct—the "soap-opera effect" is caused by frame interpolation, in which the TV creates new frames and places moving objects where it thinks they would be if the scene had been shot at the higher frame rate. (For those who aren't familiar with it, the "soap-opera effect" makes movies look like they were shot on video rather than film, much like a soap opera.)

If you disable the TV's frame interpolation (which Samsung calls Auto Motion Plus and Sony calls Motionflow), each incoming frame is simply repeated so that the refresh rate is 120 or 240Hz, and you won't see the effect. However, you won't see any improvement in motion detail, either.

BTW, Cinema Smooth is not frame interpolation as you imply in your question. It's Samsung's name for a function in its plasmas that displays 24fps movie content at 96Hz, displaying each frame four times, thus avoiding 3:2 pulldown.

No Can Do
Is it possible to adjust the white balance and color space on my Samsung LCD without test equipment? Some of the controls on this set don't explain themselves very well.

Larry Ficks

It is not possible to correctly adjust these controls on any TV without test equipment and training. The best you can do without them is to adjust the basic picture controls (contrast, brightness, color, tint, sharpness) using a setup disc such as HDTV Calibration Wizard on DVD or High Definition Benchmark on Blu-ray; see my detailed explanation of this process here.

I agree that the white-balance and color-management controls are not very intuitive, and most owner's manuals don't do a good job explaining them. That's where calibration training comes in very handy.

BTW, the range of colors displayed by a TV is called its color gamut, not color space, though these two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably, even by manufacturers. Color space is the mathematical representation of color—for example, RGB and YPbPr are different color spaces.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

Simon's picture

I think it's worth mentioning that the 'soap opera effect' isn't 'wrong' per se. You can argue that it's not 'what the director intended' given that they were probably creating the movie for 24fps, but it's very much a personal preference. Experiment with the settings, and if you find a frame interpolation mode you like, don't feel bad about leaving it on.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Simon, I couldn't agree more! I happen to prefer sharper motion detail with frame interpolation on, but I seem to be in the minority on that. Still, this is definitely a personal choice, and I support each person's right to make it for themselves, no matter what anyone else says.

Derek's picture

I too had a handshake issue, from all of my HDMI devices, through my Denon AVR-890 to my JVC HD61Z585 display. I was told by Denon to just 'buy a new tv'. I get that it is a bit dated but still looks decent and I use good sources (Oppo BDP-80 and a Dish VIP722 box), so I thought that this was a bit extreme for a solution. Through hunting on the interweb I was able to find that it's not a real handshake issue (I was only getting 2ch pcm through HDMI no matter what settings I used) but an error in how the Dennon processed the EDID information. The tv was telling the source equipment that it only understands 2ch audio and the receiver was not properly sendind it's EDID info back to the sources. I ended up using mutli-ch analog out of the Oppo and toslink out of the dish box, but sometimes you just want all the lights to twinkle on the receiver... Another day I guess.

chris's picture

Maybe in time, if people get used to the higher frame rates, they'll stop associating it with video and it won't be an issue. But I also notice that the "smoother" motion seems to have an abrupt, robotic look. Anyone else notice this?

Jeff Dyer's picture

Scott, there must be some sort of handshake issue with ultimateanmag.com. I've registered 5 times now, each time I register, I expect to get, that name is already being used. However, I have yet to receive a single e-mail or any kind of confirmation, not to mention the other day I requested a password change and still nothing. I' m wondering if its my computer, or your server, I no idea as I'm not an IT guy. Thanx for your help Jeff D.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Jeff, yours is the second instance of such a problem I've heard of. I will bring it to our web guy. What username(s) have you entered into the system? Is the e-mail address you used the same one you used to post this comment?

Jeff Dyer's picture

Scott, My username: illustrator51, and yes the e-mail is the same. Thanx for such a timely reply, Jeff D.

Zane's picture

I have the same problem that Brad is describing. I have a Panasonic PX80 plasma connected to a Dell laptop to stream Hulu. If the input on the TV gets switched or the HDMI cable get disconnected I have to restart the laptop before the audio will work again. The picture comes back but the audio won’t if I switch the input back. It's very frustrating.

Scott S.'s picture

Hi Scott, first off I wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blogs, all of them are very interesting and the Ultimate Gear is certainly entertaining. My question though is about calibration of the color gamut on certain TV's. I am an ISF trained calibrator and have noticed on Samsung and Sharp TV's that any adjustments to the color gamut primary of secondary colors seriously throws of the color decoding. LG products don't exhibit the same effect and generally calibrate very nicely with no decoding errors, is this something you have noticed when calibrating TV's for review?PS: The Sharp Quattron has the most inaccurate yellow I have ever seen on a TV even post calibration!!Thanks, Scott S.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Scott, I have definitely seen what you're talking about in some TVs but not in others. If adjusting the color gamut screws up the color decoding, I reset the CMS (color-management system) to its default and leave it there. We haven't tested a Sharp Quattron yet, but I guess I'm not surprised to hear that the yellow is so inaccurate, even post-cal.