Disable Motion Smoothing To Get Rid Of ‘Soap Opera Effect’ On New TVs

Disable Motion Smoothing To Get Rid Of ‘Soap Opera Effect’ On New TVs

If you’ve ever unboxed a new HDTV and set it up only to find the picture quality irritatingly smooth, the problem is probably motion smoothing. The setting is usually turned on by default, and turning it off will give you the experience you’re looking for.

Picture: William Hook

Over at How-To Geek, Jason Fitzpatrick explains that HDTV manufacturers often apply motion smoothing to their sets in order to counter the motion blur that’s inherent in large-screen HD sets with 120Hz and 240Hz refresh rates. That refresh rate is key — by drawing as many frames as possible and leaving motion smoothing turned on, you get that effect where everything seems too smooth and fake, often called the “soap opera effect”, named after the overly smooth pans and overly realistic sweeps that came from the low-budget cameras used on soap sets.

The fix, they explain, is simple — just disable motion smoothing on your set. Different manufacturers call it different things, but it’s almost always listed as something like “MotionFlow”, “Auto Motion”, “Smooth Motion” or “ClearFrame”. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the right setting, or just search online for your TV manufacturer and “motion smoothing”. Turning it off gives you a more cinematic look and presents the video you’re watching in a manner more true to the source material.

Hit the link below to read more about the issue, and while you’re in your TV’s settings, take a few minutes to properly calibrate your set. It will make a world of difference.

Ask HTG: Why Does My New HDTV’s Picture Look Awful? [How-To Geek]


  • Noise reduction has a similar effect that I also consider undesirable. From how I understand it to work, it kind of averages multiple frames (more depending on how high it is set) in order to eliminate noise – the unwanted side effect is that it looks like a soap opera and loses clarity.

  • Ive recently purchased a new Samsung TV just after Christmas and had heard this was an issue… I decided to leave the motion smoothing on and give it a go. It was strange at first and I can understand people being put off by it, but after a few months I actually dont mind it at all (I like the extra clarity during action scenes particularly), and am going to leave it turned on.

    • It isn’t that the picture is too ‘good’, it is that it doesn’t look how it was meant to look when it was shot. Have a google around and check out different filming framerates, soaps are/were filmed on tape at a higher rate than movies recorded to reels of film. This gives a ‘too smooth’ effect to motion.

      People like the ‘less smooth’ motion because it is truer to the material’s original intended viewing.

      • True, the effect it has though is that it completely flattens the image, which is the problem.
        Film has a lot of depth, things further away blur more and are less distinct, which is how we see things with our eyes. Smoothing makes all that extra detail clearer as well, which makes things look more artificial, because reality doesn’t look like a picture on the wall.

      • “it is that it doesn’t look how it was meant to look when it was shot.” That is probably the first true argument I have heard for watching something in a lower frame rate. Thank you for that!

        I would recommend if you watch a nature documentary, especially ones like BBC’s Planet Earth and Frozen Planet to try them with motion smoothing. The increased frame rate (or in this case hertz) makes the motion closer to what the human eye sees resulting in it more like having a window to the world rather than just watching another documentary about animals. It is beautiful!

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