HomeTechHow to Turn On Motion Smoothing for Super Bowl LVIII (Then Turn...

How to Turn On Motion Smoothing for Super Bowl LVIII (Then Turn It Off Again)


Television enthusiasts tend to rail against the motion-smoothing feature included in many TVs. I know, because I’m one of them. I tell people to turn off the feature whenever possible. However, there is one important exception: live sports.

Turn motion smoothing on for Super Bowl LVIII. Seriously, it’s one of the few cases where motion smoothing is good.

Motion Smoothing

Depending on your TV model, the interface for turning motion smoothing on might look something like this (this one is for Roku TV) (Credit: Will Greenwald)

What Is Motion Smoothing?

Motion smoothing is a video-processing feature found in most TVs. It works by injecting new frames between the frames in a video signal to make the image motion look less jerky. These frames are interpolated, calculating halfway points and processing the picture to keep the video even and consistent (often in conjunction with patterns of backlight flickering to further enhance the effect). It works, but the result is a video that looks unnatural. It’s often called the “soap opera effect,” and it makes the movies and shows you’re watching look like they’re all recorded for daytime TV.

Film content is usually recorded at 24 frames per second, and TV content is usually kept at 30fps. Motion smoothing bumps those numbers up to 60, 120, or even (depending on TV manufacturer) 960 with different tricks. Most content was created, edited, and mastered at 24 or 30 frames per second, so making it look smoother is extremely jarring. So, yes, turn off motion smoothing if you’re watching a TV show or movie. You can find the option within your TV’s video settings (check out this story to find the setting based on your TV brand).

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Why Motion Smoothing Is Good for Sports

On the flip side, motion smoothing is a useful feature when you’re watching live sports, especially sports involving a ball that gets passed, kicked, thrown, or shot. Due to how TVs create images, the camera movement wreaks havoc on the picture. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve ever seen the video stutter as the picture pans across the field. This is precisely what motion smoothing fixes without adding more problems to the experience.

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In addition, a sports feed may have images that move at 60 frames per second, depending on your cable provider. That means that the soap opera effect is less of an issue, as viewers want a more realistic image. Sports aren’t quite the mastered, artistic vision of a movie or TV show, after all. Just remember to turn motion smoothing off when you watch anything else.

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How to Fix Other Common TV Issues

If you have other TV problems, these easy fixes will help you get your picture straight, bright, and untinted. And if you’re curious about our TV reviewing process, check out how we test TVs.

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