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Entries in Motion Interpolation (1)

We want: An iPad video player with motion interpolation 

Take a trip to your local electronics store and walk down the TV aisle. As you do, consider the motion on each of the large flatscreen panels. If they are playing from the same source, usually a Blu-Ray disc, you will notice that there is a difference in the smoothness of each picture.

The effect that you are witnessing is called motion interpolation. Motion interpolation is a form of video processing in which intermediate animation frames are generated between existing ones, in an attempt to make animation more fluid. Many flat panel displays refresh at 120 Hz, so in an attempt to make the most of that fast refresh rate, many included some form digital enhancement to take the 24, 25 or 30 fps source video upto something closer to 120 Hz (120 fps). You may have heard of TruMotion, Intelligent Frame Creation, MotionFlow and ClearScan, these are all commercial names given by some of the more popular manufacturers to their versions of motion interpolation.

How does this apply to the iPad

The iPad IPS display refreshes at 65 Hz, possibly even higher. This means that the display could potentially playback a video with a 60 fps frame rate, thus opening the way for some bright developer to create an iPad video player app with a difference, that difference being motion interpolation, or whatever they decide to brand it as.

What is the point?

Faster frame rates will soon become the default for both home and cinema viewing. The human eye can easily perceive the difference between current film standard of 24 fps and 60 fps. 60 fps is about the threshold, anything higher is mostly wasted. Therefore is it reasonable to assume that both the TV and movie industries will naturally move towards 60 fps, a closer representation of reality. As they do, camera manufacturers will be expected to follow suite. Indeed, it is already possible to buy camcorders with 50 and 60 fps capture.

Though motion interpolation will never look quite as smooth as video that is actually shot at higher frame rates, it will make old and current movies look a lot nicer. To be fair, the effect isn't to everyones tastes, but that's okay, the developer should provide onscreen controls to increase or decrease the interpolation.

Is the iPad powerful enough?

In truth, I really don't know. I do know that the iPad is capable of playing 720p HD footage at 50fps, but the extra overhead of the interpolation process may restrict the feature to standard definition only.

So what say you developers, can this be done? There are now a whole host of video playback apps for the iPad, adding motion interpolation could give your app a differentiator. I've alerted a handful of developers to this article, it will be interesting to read their responses.

Further reading:

We want: StarCraft for iPad

We want our iPad arcade, not excuses!

We want our iPad Jean Michel Jarre synth app, not excuses!