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If you’ve ever watched a movie or looked at an image and seen extra elements that shouldn’t be in that scene or image, you’ve been a witness to a visual artifact. The technical term refers to when — for whatever reason — a camera or even a top-tier monitor screen struggles to properly process and render an image as it’s intended. For monitors, this scenario is usually referenced as aliasing and typically appears as pixelation where the image looks out of focus. Thankfully, technology has evolved to tackle this annoying problem. This also includes some of the high-end computer monitor accessories, which have been updated to better serve you.
Also known as display motion blur, black frame insertion (BFI) is the generic name used to reference the technology used with HD monitors and televisions to help prevent aliasing from occurring. Specifically for televisions and monitors, manufacturers employ a strobed backlight to counteract aliasing. By strobing the backlight, it helps to reduce the sample time required to display a new image and minimize the potential for motion blur to kick in and aliasing to occur.
Tip: Also known as display motion blur
Warning: manufacturers employ a strobed backlight to counteract aliasing
Note though, that manufacturers may call this technology by proprietary names and use slightly different approaches to create the desired effect. For example, LG calls their technology Motion 240 while Philips calls their version Aptura. However, all of them rely on the same motion blur technology to prevent artifacts from occurring.
Warning: Manufacturers may call this technology by proprietary names and use slightly different approaches to create the desired effect
To put it simply, black frame insertion is exactly as it sounds. The backlight on a monitor or screen is dimmed completely to black between scenes or images to prevent color bleeding. When implemented properly, this is an incredibly effective way to prevent pixelation from disturbing an image.
Tip: The backlight on a monitor or screen is dimmed completely to black between scenes or images to prevent color bleeding
In short, BFI works by speeding up the frames per second (FPS) rate for visual content so that you’re less likely to experience pixelation. However, this can be confusing for consumers as depending on the marketing jargon used to advertise a monitor’s BFI features, manufacturers can give the impression that a monitor is capable of a higher FPS than is realistically possible.
Tip: BFI works by speeding up the frames per second (FPS) rate for visual content so that you’re less likely to experience pixelation
Warning: Depending on the marketing jargon used to advertise a monitor’s BFI features, manufacturers can give the impression that a monitor is capable of a higher FPS than is realistically possible
Instead, what’s happening is that by adding additional black frames between the actual frames in a piece of visual content, the television is simulating an increase in frames. So, if your screen offers 60 hertz, BFI could give the impression that it can perform at 120 hertz. But in reality, your monitor is still a 60-hertz screen.
While BFI is a standard method employed to control pixelation, it isn’t perfect. In some cases, it can still create visual disturbances that our eyes can detect. In some cases, our eyes can detect that the image is noticeably darker as BFI is triggered. And in other scenarios, if the dimming process isn’t produced at a high enough frequency, you can see the image flicker as it transitions.
Warning: In some cases, our eyes can detect that the image is noticeably darker as BFI is triggered
Like we mentioned, most major monitor manufacturers offer some form of black frame insertion technology — regardless of whether they give it a special name or not. And in most cases, you can go into your monitor settings to activate it. But because they’re not entirely truthful about the true frame rate in their marketing materials, it pays to do your homework before purchasing a monitor.
For average users, BFI isn’t enough of an issue to interfere with their viewing experience whether on a computer monitor or a television. But for gamers or people who are very particular about image quality, BFI can be an issue, so some gamers look to invest in monitors that avoid this technology like the best monitor for Xbox Series X 2022.
As we’ve shown, because of how this technology works, there’s always the risk that it can reduce image brightness. So, if you’re a gamer or someone who works with graphic arts, this can be problematic and you might want to look into monitors that rely on alternate technologies such as backlight strobing to manage motion blur.
Warning: But for gamers or people who are very particular about image quality, BFI can be an issue. Unlike full array local dimming, which is perfect for gamers due to its high image quality.
Since some TV manufacturers don’t show the real refresh rate on the specifications sheet, you’ll have to look for a detailed review of the TV if you want to know both its maximum supported native refresh rate at a certain resolution and its effective/simulated refresh rate. (Display Ninja)
Many motion blur factors have existed for a long time in film and video (e.g. slow camera shutter speed). The emergence of digital video, and HDTV display technologies, introduced many additional factors that now contribute to motion blur. (Wikipedia)