On his recent public service announcement (PSA) on Twitter, Tom Cruise encourages people who own HDTVs and 4K TVs to become aware of “motion smoothing”. This setting is turned on by default by manufacturers, and with this setting on, the side effect is it downgrades the experience, making movies like they were shot on high-speed video rather than film.
Tom Cruise recorded the 90-second PSA video at the set of “Top Gun: Maverick” with Christopher McQuarrie, the “Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)” director, who has voiced concerns about motion smoothing in the past.
The “motion smoothing” they were talking about is technically known as “interpolation”, it’s also known as the “soap opera effect”.
Tom Cruise (@TomCruise)
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.
Christopher McQuarrie: We’re very proud to present “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”. We want you to enjoy it to the fullest possible effect. Just as you would in a theater.
Tom Cruise: To that end, we would like a moment of your time to talk to you about video interpolation.
Christopher McQuarrie: Video interpolation or motion smoothing is a digital effect on most high definition televisions, and is intended to reduce motion blur on sporting events and other high-definition programs.
Tom Cruise: The unfortunate side effect is that it makes most movies look like they were shot on high-speed video rather than film. It is sometimes referred to as the “soap opera” effect.
Christopher McQuarrie: Without a side by side comparison, many people can’t quite put their finger on why the movie they’re watching look strange.
Tom Cruise: Most HDTVs come with this feature already “on” by default, and turning it off requires navigating a set of menus with interpolation often referred to by another brand name.
Christopher McQuarrie: If you own a modern high-definition television, there’s a good chance you’re not watching movies the way the filmmakers intended. And the ability to do so is not simple for you to access.
Tom Cruise: Filmmakers are working with manufacturers to change the way video interpolation is activated on your television, giving you easier access and greater choice over when to use this feature.
Christopher McQuarrie: Meanwhile, a quick internet search should provide you step-by-step instructions on how to quickly disable the feature so that you can enjoy the movie you’re about to see exactly as the filmmakers intended. (e.g. “Turn off motion smoothing [your brand of TV here]”)
Rian Johnson, director of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and three “Breaking Bad” episodes, referred to “motion moothing” as “liquid diarrhea”.
“Motion smoothing” is a default setting on modern TVs that supposedly enhances video on the screen. It decreases motion blur by creating frames the aren’t part of the original video content. That shows smoother video, which is fine when you’re watching sports, but not when you’re watching movies, etc.
The artificial smoothness that motion smoothing applies by the TV makes a big Hollywood movie look like a TV soap opera.