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ATI and NVIDIA correct the twinkling effect of LCDs in movies
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on September 12, 2006

NVIDIA´s correction
In the beginning, everything is deactivated. To benefit from new functions, you have to enter the advanced settings of the graphic card, choose the new type of menu with the icons, and select Video & Television. In the sub-menu, select the option Advanced settings instead of standard (initially selected). Validate the option Adjusting video color settings , then select the last tab, Improvements. Here we go!

Two options both set at 0 are available in this menu: image sharpening and noise reduction.

We took one of our favourite scenes for testing monitors. It is at the beginning of the movie Matrix. Trinity speaks on the phone with Morpheus and the wall on the left of her face is a perfect example of the twinkling effect and imperfections that jump to our eyes. It’s also seen in the color scale of her face, and is a little less perceptible and harder to show in our screenshots. We will focus in this area to illustrate our tests.
The film was displayed on a 20" 4/3 monitor. Screenshots were made in full screen.

We played a little game, selecting several levels of image sharpening and noise reduction factors and captured the results. Here are the consequences for several different adjustments:
Initial settings : correction 0%
0% sharpening; 100% noise
100% sharpening; 0% noise

Choosing extreme values helps to understand the consequences of the adjustments of these parameters and their limits.
By 0% sharpening; 100% noise, we mean that we left the image sharpening to 0 and increased the noise reduction to the maximum. Here the skin depth is non existent. Initially the cheek and forehead had a visible texture. Once the noise correction is activated, they become entirely smooth. There is no noise left in the image and the areas previously subject to twinkling effects are no longer affected. It is impressive, but there are two downsides. The first is that the area is frozen and there are wide plain color areas instead of color scales in motion. This is disturbing and it feels just like if the furniture were not made of enough polygons. Movements become a little bit more approximate and details are lost. Second downside: the reduction also has consequences on the number of colors displayed. The rounded off numbers are not always the best ones as the red colors on the side of the nose and the woman’s lips show. It’s impossible to miss this as she now has a pale face with two big colored spots.

100% sharpening; 0% noise : It is obvious, sharpness is better. The lines of the face are strongly accentuated. It concerns everything including the skin imperfections. Trinity looks 20 years older. The noise on her face is also strongly accentuated.

It is evident that these extreme adjustments won’t do. The good news, however, is that it is possible to find a better compromise. We assume that we can decrease the noise level and improve the sharpness of images. It is all a matter of finding the right adjustment.

0% bord ; 50% bruit
50% bord ; 50% bruit
50% bord ; 0% bruit

Finally, after a couple of trial and errors, we came to the following result:

0% bord ; 0% bruit
20% bord ; 45% bruit

The ambient noise level has noticeably been reduced. On the IPS monitor chosen for this test, it returned to a level comparable to MVA panels. Progress was also visible on the TN monitor with a slight persistent twinkling.

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