Tom Cruise Hits Out at ‘Motion Smoothing’ on HD TVs

Tom Cruise has urged everyone to turn off a default setting on their high definition (HD) TVs to improve the experience of watching films at home.

The Mission Impossible star, 56, said a setting known as “motion smoothing” ruins films because it makes them “look like they were shot on high-speed video rather than film”.

Motion smoothing, also known as the “soap opera effect”, involves adding artificial frames into footage to remove the motion blur of fast-moving objects. It’s most useful when watching sport.

But for blockbuster movies, the effect can make films appear brighter and sharper than the filmmaker intended, giving them a hyper-realistic effect.

Tom Cruise at the Venice Film Festival © Joe Alvarez

Tom Cruise © Joe Alvarez

In an impassioned video posted on Twitter, Cruise, appearing with Mission Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie, said: “Most HD TVs 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.”

“If you own a modern high-definition television there’s a good chance you’re not watching movies the way film-makers intended, and the ability for you to do so is not simple for you to access,” McQuarrie added.

McQuarrie acknowledged that many people notice something “strange” about the film they’re watching with the feature enabled but few can identify the issue without a side-by-side comparison.

The technique has previously been criticised by film makers such as Inception director Christopher Nolan and Star Wars: The Last Jedidirector Rian Johnson.

Tom Cruise Twitter:

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.

Frozen River director Reed Morano even started a petition calling for TV manufacturers to turn the setting off. “It takes the cinematic look out of any image and makes it look like soap opera shot on a cheap video camera,” she said.

For blockbuster movies, it can often spoil the fantasy. For instance, filmmaker Peter Jackson faced criticism over his decision to film his adaptation of The Hobbit at 48 frames per second, double the industry standard, leading to many viewers to complain the fantasy film looked strange.

Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee also faced criticism for filming Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at an unprecedented 120 frames per second, with many critics saying that the extraordinary clarity distracted from the film’s qualities.

Almost all major HD and 4K television brands have some version of motion smoothing built into their sets, and many of them include the setting turned on by default.

Tom Cruise at BAFTA 2015 © Joe Alvarez

Tom Cruise © Joe Alvarez

This means users have to navigate through complicated menus to find the setting, which can come under a different brand name such as Sony MotionFlow or Samsung Auto Motion Plus.

Cruise said filmmakers had been working with manufacturers to change how the setting is activated on TV sets.

In his video, he encourages users to search online for how to turn off motion smoothing for their brand of TV in order to watch movies “exactly as the film-makers intended”.

Cruise is currently filming Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel to the 1986 original.

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Tom Cruise at BAFTA 2015 © Joe Alvarez

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