What is the soap opera effect and how to turn it off?


Disable the soap opera effect and enjoy movies as they were intended


The soap opera effect is an industry-recognized term that describes the visual effects of a video when using motion interpolation – a feature that sees high definitions TVs increase the refresh rate of the original source to reduce perceived blur.

While motion interpolation can be beneficial in some scenarios, many individuals feel it adds a sense of cheapness when viewing cinematic movies and TV shows. Even Tom Cruise took a break from filming to explain the disadvantages that motion interpolation can add to your visual experience.

Fortunately, motion interpolation, aka the soap opera effect, is incredibly easy to turn off. Even those who class themselves as complete technophobes shouldn’t struggle too much with this relatively simple step-by-step guide.

Additionally, we’ll also be highlighting when you should consider using this feature and why it came to be.

What is the soap opera effect?

As tom and Christopher McQuarrie so eloquently put it, the soap opera effect is a visual effect that occurs when using motion interpolation – a feature found in most high definition, high refresh rate TVs. Motion interpolation works by increasing the refresh rate of the original source to improve motion handling and reduce blur – an artifact that often occurs when viewing fast-moving images on less-responsive LCD-LED TVs.

While older CRTs and even Plasma TVs were renowned for their impressive motion handling abilities, the same most certainly can’t be said for modern LCD-LED TVs. Most modern panel types commonly struggle when it comes to motion handling, especially in large-screen TV variants. Even OLED TVs that offer near-instantaneous pixel response times utilize motion interpolation – with many sets enabling the feature from the factory.

Annoyingly, most manufacturers use their own brand name for motion interpolation, confusing many individuals when it comes to physically disabling it on their new set. Depending on what brand you’re using, you’ll likely see terms such as; motion interpolation, motion smoothing, ME/MC (motion estimation/motion compensation), TruMotion, Auto Motion Plus, and MotionFlow used for this particular feature. Fortunately, regardless of branding, turning motion smoothing off is actually incredibly easy.

How the soap opera effect works

The soap opera effect works by ‘guessing’ what is happening between the frames of the original source video. Motion interpolation will effectively create a new hybrid frame that sits in between the two original frames – created by merging the two frames that occur before and after it. Naturally, this results in a much smoother visual experience.

Motion interpolation works best when viewing content shot in 30 or 60 FPS (frames per second), as it usually offers better detail right off the bat. That being said, users can still experience artifacts when using motion interpolation – especially if the TV doesn’t feature advanced motion interpolation processing.

Furthermore, when viewing a movie on a TV that has motion interpolation enabled, most individuals won’t be able to put their finger on why the video looks strange. It’s only when you look at a side-by-side video of the two that you can clearly see the difference. And despite many not knowing they’re actually using it, most people tend to dislike this visual feature when they realize it’s in use.

When does the soap opera effect work?

It isn’t all bad news, though – there are scenarios where the soap opera effect works incredibly well.

As just mentioned, motion interpolation was developed to decrease the motion blur that would often occur in LED TVs when viewing fast-moving images (games and sporting events). Motion blur would make certain objects and scenes look out of focus, reducing the clarity and fluidity of the video you’re viewing.

In these scenarios, the soap opera effect works very well – effectively doubling the refresh rate to increase fluidity and sharpness.

How to turn off the soap opera effect?

Turning off the soap opera effect, aka motion interpolation, is incredibly easy – regardless of what TV or brand you own. Often, it’s as simple as a few clicks. The hardest part is actually finding the feature within your TV, as it often goes by a variety of different labels.

As mentioned above, different manufacturers use different labels for motion interpolation, adding confusion to what is a relatively simple task. However, almost always, manufacturers will use ‘Motion’ in the name. TruMotion, Auto Motion Plus, MotionFlow, Motion smoothing, and ME/MC are all examples of brand names for motion interpolation, with Hisense being the only exception to this rule – using UltraSMR instead.

While the soap opera effect is becoming more recognized by the everyday user, this annoying naming structure is one of the main reasons why so many people struggle to actually deactivate it. It’s becoming such a frequently asked question that the UHD Alliance proposed that all major TV manufacturers implement a simple ‘Filmmaker Mode” into the remote that actually deactivates the feature instantly. Brands such as LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and Vizio have all started to utilize Filmmaker modes, allowing users to experience the film as it was intended.

Unfortunately, filmmaker mode isn’t available on all sets, meaning you’ll have to perform the following steps to turn off the soap opera effect:

How to disable the soap opera effect on LG TVs

While many modern LG TVs feature Filmmaker mode, not all do. For those using an LG TV that doesn’t feature this picture mode, follow these simple steps:

Begin by pressing the home button on your remote control – this will bring up the TV’s main menu.

Navigate to the ‘Picture Mode’ tab from the main menu options.

Inside the ‘Picture mode’ tab, find and select the ‘Picture Options’ tab.

Find the ‘Smooth’ setting and toggle TruMotion to off.

How to disable the soap opera effect on Samsung TVs

Again, most modern Samsung TVs feature the Filmmaker Mode – directly accessible via the remote. That said, not all do, so looking for the ‘Auto Motion Plus’ setting will disable it:

Grab your remote and press the ‘menu’ or ‘settings’ button

Inside the main menu, navigate to and select the ‘Picture’ tab

Navigate to and select the ‘Expert Settings’ from the ‘Picture’ tab

Inside ‘Expert Settings’, find the ‘Auto Motion Plus’ tab

Simply disable ‘Auto Motion Plus’ from the available options to disable soap opera effect

How to disable the soap opera effect on Sony TVs

Sony TVs don’t utilize the filmmaker mode as much as the above brands, so, chances are you’ll have to follow these steps to disable the soap opera effect:

Press the ‘Settings’ button on your remote to open the main settings menu

Navigate and select the ‘Picture Settings’ from the available options

Select the ‘ Advanced Settings’ option from the Picture menu

Finally, navigate to the ‘Motion Settings’ and simply disable the ‘MotionFlow’ option.

That’s really all there is to it. If you have another brand of TV, disabling the soap opera effect will likely have a similar method – navigating through the picture settings until you find the motion modes.

Of course, disabling this feature will impact the way your TV performs when watching other content. Sports events and games will likely look a little worse after disabling motion interpolation, as the TV will likely run into some perceived blur artifacts. In this scenario, simply enable Motion interpolation again to achieve the best visual experience.

Ultimately, all TVs perform uniquely, meaning you’ll have to see what works best for yourself. That being said, it’s no secret that the soap opera effect is loathed by many – including Tom Cruise.


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