• Rick Singer

Goodbye And Good Riddance To The "Soap Opera Effect"

Oscar winning directors discuss motion smoothing


LED TV manufacturers LG, Panasonic, and Vizio are working together to eliminate the distracting motion smoothing default menu setting.


Motion smoothing is a digital effect that makes whatever is on-screen look almost fake. It's also referred to as the "soap opera effect."

Industry, Hollywood and trade alliances are working together on a new solution called "Filmmaker Mode."


Have you ever looked closer to the screen to figure out why the actors look like wax figures moving through a soap opera set?


It's called motion smoothing, or the "soap opera effect," and directors hate it immensely.


The only reason that motion smoothing really exists is because TV images are processed more quickly than in movies, meaning television manufacturers have tried to come to some sort of sweet spot in the middle by using an ill-conceived digital process.


Maybe you're in the minority that doesn't even realize the phenomenon of motion smoothing—it's the default setting on most U.S. televisions. You can't ignore it for long though, because top TV manufacturers like LG, Vizio, and Panasonic are buddying up to find a new solution to motion smoothing because, turns out, they know it sucks, too.


Today's TVs have advanced video processing capabilities, which means we should be living in a time of prime viewing quality. Instead, most sets default to motion smoothing or motion interpolation, which increases a video's frame rate, usually to the max.


So, filmmakers Paul Thomas Anderson, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan reached out to the UHD Alliance—which includes consumer electronics manufacturers, film and television studios, content distributors and tech companies—and decided to build out a solution to motion smoothing that would allow viewers to watch movies at home just as the directors had intended.


Called "Filmmaker Mode," this setting will preserve the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates in movies and "provides a way for consumers to better experience the filmmaker’s vision," Michael Zink, UHD Alliance Chairman and vice president of technology for Warner Bros., said in a media statement.


We need to be sure that the original intent of the filmmaker is carried through to the presentation in the home," says director Christopher Nolan in a promotional video.


One distinction between Filmmaker Mode and just turning off the motion smoothing program on your television is that the new viewing experience will be activated automatically, so forget screen upon screen of menu options. Plus, the name and settings will be universal across televisions, which will make it easier to access.



Filmmaker Mode standards have not yet finalized, but perhaps by the time you read this it's been adopted. In the meantime, here's what you can do to stop the insanity, depending on the brand of television that you own.


Samsung

Go to the "settings" menu > "advanced settings" > "clarity" > turn off both the "MotionPlus" and "MotionSmoothing" features


LG

Select "home" on your remote > go to "picture mode settings > "picture options" > change "TruMotion" from "smooth" to "off"


Sony

Press the "action menu" on your remote > select "picture adjustments" > "advanced settings" > change "MotionFlow" from "standard" to "off"


Panasonic 

Press "menu" on the remote > select "picture settings" > scroll down to "MotionSmoother" and switch it to "off" or "weak"

Vizio: Press menu on the remote > select "advanced video" > "smooth motion effect" > select "off"

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