Out of the box, new televisions can make many films and TV shows look wrong, with settings that can often make the picture brighter or more saturated than the filmmakers originally intended. But there’s one setting that has filmmakers like Reed Morano, James Gunn, and Rian Johnson up in arms: motion interpolation, or motion smoothing.
This refers to the process of artificially increasing the frame rate of your content by inserting fake frames into a video in effort to remove motion blur from the image. Motion smoothing can make sense for sports, which can move quickly and get blurry on your TV set. Most films, however, are traditionally shot at 24 frames-per-second and motion blur naturally occurs. Artificially increasing the frame rate and removing motion blur removes the filmic, dreamlike essence from films, giving them a hyperreal quality.
Motion smoothing can also result in digital artifacts and a degraded image, as your TV is trying to add artificial information to the content.
Photo: Screenshot/Spider-Man: Homecoming
The good news? You can turn it off, with some digging into your TV settings. It’s disguised under many names, depending on the brand of your TV—TruMotion for LG TVs, Clear Motion Rate for Samsung, MotionFlow for Sony—but they all refer to motion smoothing. Of course, if you don’t mind (or if you even like) the effect, you’re more than welcome to leave it on. Just remember, if you turn it off, your favorite directors will love you for it.