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How to turn off motion smoothing on your TV

BY James O'Malley

8th May 2023 Technology

How to turn off motion smoothing on your TV

If the picture on your TV doesn't look quite right, it could be because of motion smoothing. Our tech expert James O'Malley explains how to switch it off

If you’ve bought a new TV in the last six or seven years, you’ve probably noticed something strange: the picture is weirdly… smooth?

This is what most people call “motion smoothing”. It’s an effect that will make Hollywood blockbusters and serious dramas look every bit as cheap and cheerful as a shopping channel.

But TV manufacturers seem intent on inflicting it on us, because it makes for more dramatic images on the screen, especially when you’re walking along the TV aisle in a branch of Currys.

"The reason it doesn't look quite right is because it’s an attempt to use computer trickery to make smoother pictures"

The way it works—and the reason it doesn't look quite right—is because it’s an attempt to use computer trickery to make smoother pictures: typically, TV is broadcast at 25 frames—or images—per second in the UK.

So your TV tries to make it smoother by running at 50 frames per second, and using clever algorithms to guess what the in-between frames might look like.

For example, if a car is driving across the screen, motion smoothing will analyse two frames with the car in a slightly different position on each, and then it will attempt to generate the in-between frame, with the car half-way between the two positions. The results are, in my correct opinion, horrible.

And I’m not the only person who finds it annoying. In 2018, Tom Cruise and his director colleague Christopher McQuarrie went as far as recording a special video, begging viewers to switch off this horrible effect, to watch his films how they were meant to be viewed.

Fast car as it might appear on TV with motion smoothingIf a fast car is shown on your TV, motion smoothing will attempt to analyse two frames and add an extra one in-between

How can you fix it?

Annoyingly, each TV brand calls the mode something different. Samsung calls it “Auto Motion Plus”, LG calls it “TruMotion,” and Sony calls it “Motion Flow,” for example.

But if you dig into the picture settings menu on your TV, you should be able to find a button to turn it off. It might be hidden inside a further “Expert Settings” or “Additional Settings” menu if you can’t find it.

"If you dig into the picture settings menu on your TV, you should be able to find a button to turn it off"

Or, if you have a slightly newer TV, there’s a much better way: simply look through your “Picture Mode” options, where you’ll be able to pick different modes like “Sport”, “Movie”, or “Video-games”,  and make sure that you pick out “Filmmaker mode”.

The idea with this latter mode, named for the likes of Cruise and McQuarrie, is that the TV will switch off any “post-processing” it performs on images—giving you the picture as the people who made the show or film you’re watching originally intended. Phew!

Oh, and be careful—motion smoothing is so hard to get rid of that if you use, for example, multiple HDMI inputs on your TV or different apps to watch shows, you may need to go back into picture settings and re-disable it again, to make sure that it is definitely switched off for good.

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