Motion Smoothing or the Soap Opera effect as it is otherwise known has been in the news time and time again. Why? You could trace it to the campaign started by Tom Cruise and Mission Impossible: Fallout Director Christopher McQuarrie on Twitter against this technology. The celebrity campaign has been picked up by many media outlets and has been generating a buzz on the internet and joining with other Directors like Reed Morano, James Gunn, and Rian Johnson who have spoken out against the soap opera effect or motion interpolation.
But what exactly is this technology and why would you want to turn it off on your TV and how do you turn it off?
What is Motion Smoothing or the Soap Opera Effect?
Let us start with the basics – frames and fps (frames per second).
- A frame is a still image just like a photo. And when we record a series of still images of a particular scene and play it consecutively at a rapid pace, it gives a perception of motion to the human eye. Just like a flipbook.
- fps or frame rate per second is the frequency/rate at which consecutive images appear on a display. The higher the fps, the human eye perceives better clarity and a smoother video.
Movies are usually filmed at the industry standard of 24 frames per second or fps, while on the other hand modern televisions typically use refresh rates of 50 or 60 frames per second or fps.
With the motion smoothing feature turned on, your TV will up the frame rate from 24 fps to a higher rate, say 60 fps by adding extra frames in the gap between frames making the video appear smoother with less motion blur. The extra frame is added using a technique called video interpolation or motion interpolation.
It works great with sports, with a lot of fast-moving action on the screen. The higher fps gives more detail and crispness to the image, giving the viewer a better feel for the action. However, with movies, the smoothing technology brings in a shade of ultra-realism to a scene and takes away the cinematic look.
For viewers, this can be discomforting and give movies the “soap opera” effect. Soap opera tv shows in the past were typically shot in 60 fps video, hence the tag.
24 frames per second (fps) vs Motion Smoothing
To get a visual perspective of the interpolation technology, check out the following videos. The videos show the same clip with different frame speeds, demonstrating the soap opera effect.
If you have watched the above videos, you may have been able to discern the difference between watching it with or without motion smoothing. As always, there will be people who prefer the smoother motion and clarity and those who believe they are missing the “movie magic” and prefer to turn motion smoothing off.
And if you are in the latter category, then all you have to do is navigate to the appropriate option in your TV menu and turn off the feature.
Easy, right? probably. The issue is there are no standards around this feature. Every tv manufacturer has their own name for this feature and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you won’t know which menu option to change.
How to turn off Motion Smoothing on your TV?
Some of the more popular TV Manufacturers brands are listed below with their corresponding Motion Smoothing terminology, and how to turn it off:
- LG TV – TruMotion
- Picture Menu > Picture Mode Settings > Picture Options > TruMotion
- Scroll to TruMotion Setting, and select the “Off” option
- Samsung TV – Auto Motion Plus
- Settings > Picture > Expert Settings
- Scroll to Auto Motion Plus Settings. Select the “Off” option
- Sony TV – Motionflow
- Picture Settings > Advanced Settings > Motion > Motion Flow
- Select the “Off” option or the “True Cinema” option if it is available
- Panasonic TV – Motion Picture
- Menu > Picture > Advanced Picture
- Scroll to Motion Picture Settings, and select the “Off” option
- Toshiba TV – Clear Frame
- Menu > Picture > Picture Settings > Advanced Picture Settings > ClearFrame
- In the ClearFrame setting, Select the “Off” option
- Sharp TV – AquoMotion
- TV Setup > Picture > Advanced > Motion Enhancement
- Select the “Off” option
Most of the manufacturers above also allow you to tune or select an intermediate setting, instead of turning it off completely. That is a personal choice, and you will have to try them and select what you like best.
Our recommendation: Turn it off completely for movies, to enjoy the true cinematic effect
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy viewing !