In the last few years, you might have picked up a brand-new TV, unboxed it, turned it on, and watched some shows before coming to the realization that the picture looks almost too real. Mostly everyone agrees a realistic picture is the biggest thing you want while watching TV, but this too real picture just doesn’t look right.
Most new televisions have something called “motion smoothing” (or “motion interpolation”), which is designed to allow the TV to actually insert frames between the original existing ones in an effort to lower motion blur. Basically, the TV estimates what is supposed to be between frames and inserts extra frames, which doesn’t sound like a great idea, but it is another selling-point in a highly-competitive market.
It’s also known as the “Soap Opera Effect” because, simply, it makes most scenes and shows look like soap operas by giving everything a sharp and cheesy look. Different TV brands have different names for it, like “TruMotion” (LG), “MotionFlow” (Sony), and “Auto Motion Plus” (Samsung).
The big problem is that almost all filmmakers and television showrunners made their content at 24 frames per second, and motion smoothing instead displays it at a rate of 30 or 60 frames per second—i.e. not what was intended while filming. And unfortunately, almost all televisions come with motion smoothing as the default setting, and they make you go through multiple settings to turn it off.
Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie just came out with a plea to stop television manufacturers from making motion smoothing the default option on TVs.
I’m taking a quick break from filming to tell you the best way to watch Mission: Impossible Fallout (or any movie you love) at home. pic.twitter.com/oW2eTm1IUA
— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) December 4, 2018
They also did a good job of explaining what motion smoothing is, while adding that a Google search of “Turn off motion smoothing [your brand of TV here]” will give you the steps to turn the feature off.
Cruise and McQuarrie haven’t been alone in voicing their displeasure for motion smoothing. Filmmakers Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Rian Johnson, and Reed Morano are among those that have called for change.
Some people might like motion smoothing; it does make a picture so real-looking that it’s almost staggering—which is part of the issue, as it looks so real that it’s distracting, though some might enjoy it. But for the majority of TV watchers, it’s preferable to just have the picture that is intended by the people making the content they’re watching.
The fact that filmmakers have come out so strongly against motion smoothing should tell you something, and hopefully a star like Cruise coming out against it in the most-publicized rally against the hated-by-many feature yet will lead to change.