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Why do Soap Operas Look so Different From Regular Television Shows?


If you have, you’re not alone. Thousands have been talking online about why this phenomenon occurs — and what they experience as a result.

Many consider soap operas to be a different kind of television entertainment. While they do follow many of the same filming practices and expectations that you’d expect to see from traditional television, there are a few key differences that readers are echoing across the interwebs. 


For example: The plot is usually lighter and more digestible than your average TV show. While the plotlines can still be full of drama, suspense, and mature topics, the pacing and complexity of the show is more what you’d expect to see from a miniseries or a presentation. It’s short, focused, and gripping. The plotlines are simple and each one pulls into the next. 


Another difference is the visual “feel” of the content. This alone has prompted many to wonder if there is an actual difference in the cameras used to capture the soap opera content, or if they are simply noticing the “differences” in error. 



Experts at Distractify have confirmed what we’ve been assuming from the start, however. Yes there are differences, and it’s likely due to the low-budget filming process that many soap operas are forced to take on. 


Why do soap operas have less of a budget? 

It’s nothing personal, really! Many soap operas experience budget constraints if they air during the day, as there are statistically less daytime viewers than there are nighttime viewers. 

Does release frequency have anything to do with it? 

Soap operas also will often produce content daily, according to Distractify, which means that actors simply don’t have the time for multiple takes until they get it perfect — and they certainly don’t have time for complex and expensive camera tricks.



Could soap opera lighting affect how it appears? 

Distractify has confirmed key differences in lighting between soap operas and regular episode dramas. For example: While a traditional movie or series set will have diffrent lighting by scene (and to make it appear natural, soaps don’t — instead having the lights dispersed evenly around the studio for a singular, flat dimension. This helps to avoid trouble with shadows and backlighting concerns. 


Additionally, cameras that are traditionally used for filming soap operas have a very high frame rate. As a result, content appears to be 3D and “ultra-realistic,” which stands in contrast to what we see on our traditional movies, series, and commercials. 


Distractify notes that the average soap opera is shot at 30-60 frames per second. 



This difference becomes more noticeable when you watch current soaps of today, rather than the soaps of times past. The digital format swap that occurs when you watch your favorite soaps on DVD strongly contrasts with what you’re used to seeing, making the difference more severe.


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