Mission: Impossible - Fallout’s star and director — Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie, respectively, who were taking a break on the set of Top Gun: Mavericks — have a message for you: They want you to know about your TV’s motion smoothing, and why it’s bad.
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
Motion smoothing is a feature on newer TVs that interpolates frames and adds them into the content you’re watching. What does that mean? Basically, the parts of a motion that aren’t actually on screen are created and added to a sequence. If someone is running, normally you would see their feet go from one place to another. With motion smoothing, you can see the entire process of one foot moving in front of the other, because the TV is using the two frames it has and creating something in between.
While this feature is nice for things like sports, where constant fluid motion is fine and the whole idea is to see people perform actions in real time, it’s not so great for movies. Worse is that it comes turned on by default on most TVs these days.
Films are shot, for the most part, at 24 frames per second. When movies are made, and action scenes choreographed or special effects designed, they’re designed specifically to be played and viewed at that frame rate. A TV that starts adding frames that weren’t actually supposed to be in the movie introduces artifacting — blurry lines that appear as the TV tries to smooth out things it shouldn’t — or strange, high-speed movement, which Cruise and McQuarrie refer to in their video as the “soap opera effect,” giving movies an unnatural look that’s entirely unintended.
Thankfully, this is a feature you can turn off on your TV in order to get movies to look the way they should. And just like Cruise and McQuarrie say in the video, a short search online should tell you how to fix the motion smoothing on your particular TV model.