On my Simpsons DVDs, the color flash in sync with the dialogue.
October 8, 2004 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Simpsons DVDs. A really weird and annoying thing is happening when I watch Simpsons DVDs (happens with all the seasons). The colors flash in sync with the dialogue. [Help a Homer out inside].

I assure you that psychedelics are not involved in any way. When there is a close up on a character’s face, the dark solid areas of the screen get lighter and darker in sync with the dialogue being spoken. Say, for example, there’s a close up on Marge. Her hair and the background colors will get lighter when she says a word and darker in between words. It’s not the DVD player. I recently picked up a new one and it does the same thing as it did on the old one. The TV is a cheapo Apex, which I’m otherwise happy with. Lowering the contrast on the TV seems to reduce the problem, but not eliminate it. This is my last act of desperation. Please help.
posted by Otis to Technology (8 answers total)
Maybe Macrovision?

Are you running the DVD player through a VCR? If so, have you tried connecting the DVD player directly to the TV instead?

If you get no love from altering the setup, you might try one of those little Sima boxes that improve the signal (and oh, how handy, what a coinkidink, they also strip out Macrovision protection).
posted by bcwinters at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2004

I’m running straight to the TV with component video and RCA audio. I have run through a VCR in the past, so I know the Macrovision curse. Macrovision is more of a steady on/off flashing.
posted by Otis at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2004

Is it possible that the phenomenon is endemic to the animation itself? Many times in the commentary for the Simpsons dvds, the animators will talk about something called "cell flare" (IIRC) that results from the overlay of one level of acetate with drawings on it over another. The acetate itself has a color to it so when drawings are overlaid the color of the underneath layer changes somewhat. That's why things that move in hand-drawn cartoons are usually a different color from their background--like if a tree branch is going to break, only the part that falls needs to be animated so that gets drawn on a different layer than the rest of the tree, which remains stationary and is drawn on the background layer. All this does is save work for the animators. The advent of digital animation changed all that--Futurama won't have this problem.

So, to answer your question, I'd guess that the animators are adding a layer to the animation frame when someone's speaking (but only when their mouth is moving), thus changing the color of the layers underneath. It's just a matter of it being easier to draw only the mouth moving instead of having to draw the whole person over and over again.
posted by LionIndex at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2004

It's posible that you're getting interference between the audio and video circuitry in your TV. Since it's a cheapo Apex, in fact, I'd say that it's likely.
posted by kindall at 1:32 PM on October 8, 2004

Unplug the RCA audio cables. If its still noticeable with no sound, then I'd go with LionIndex's guess. If it goes away without the audio, I'd go with kindall's.
posted by GeekAnimator at 3:14 PM on October 8, 2004

I have these DVDs and haven't noticed the problem on either the projection TV, or on my computer monitor.

I've looked at and seen the cell flare that happens, and it doesn't appear to happen when the characters are talking.

BTW: If you plan to overlay, say, up to 10 cells, why not just overlay blank cells to make up for the colour difference?
posted by shepd at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2004

Thanks for the suggestions. I unplugged the RCA cables from the TV, but the flashing still occurs in sync with the audio. Just played the same scene on the computer and it didn't happen. Now I'm truly stumped.
posted by Otis at 9:41 AM on October 9, 2004

Ahhh, wait a second. You might have a problem with the picture "blooming". This is common on cheapo TV sets. Try adjusting the contrast lower (and perhaps the brightness).
posted by shepd at 11:59 AM on October 9, 2004

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