Turn On Motion Smoothing for Live Sports (Then Turn It Off)-news

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TV wonks tend to rail against the motion smoothing feature on 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 the game. Seriously, it’s one of the few cases where motion smoothing is good.

What Is Motion Smoothing?

Motion smoothing is a video-processing feature on most TVs, which injects frames in between the frames of a video signal to make the motion look less jerky. These frames are interpolated, calculating halfway points and processing the picture to keep the video even and consistent. It works, but in the process of adding frames and smoothing out the action, the video starts to look 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 30. Motion smoothing bumps those numbers up to 60, 120, or even (depending on the math of the TV manufacturer) 960 with different tricks. When the carefully produced content you’re watching was created, edited, and mastered at 24 and 30 frames per second, making it look smoother is really jarring. So yes, turn off motion smoothing if you’re watching a TV show or movie.

Depending on your TV model, the interface for turning motion smoothing on might look something like this (this one is for Android TV)

Why Motion Smoothing Is Good for Sports

On the flip side, motion smoothing is a useful feature when you’re watching live sports, which show you the camera feed, filtered through a studio and editing bay, straight to your TV. You’re watching players on the field right now, and tracking the ball as it gets passed, kicked, thrown, and shot. So it isn’t quite the mastered artistic vision of a movie or TV show. Also, depending on your TV provider, the live feed will be a nice 60 frames per second, because you want as much detail and smoothness in the motion as possible.

More importantly, live sports pans back and forth across the field or court constantly. Because of how TVs actually draw the pictures they show, this left-to-right motion 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 can fix without adding many more problems to the experience.

The frame interpolation motion-smoothing features perform is ideal for panning shots in sports, and very quick cuts back and forth with live video. It isn’t making film or TV content look unnatural, it’s simply evening out and improving the potentially jerky feed you’re watching. Turning motion smoothing on for live sports should help reduce the choppiness and jerkiness of those fast pans back and forth across the field.

Motion smoothing can help improve your live sports experience, so turn it on for any sport where there’s a lot of action shifting horizontally across the screen. It’ll improve your experience.

Just remember to turn motion smoothing off when you watch anything else.

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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