Beginning this week, LG’s 2020 and 2021 4K and 8K smart TVs will roll out an update that will allow viewers to automatically watch their Amazon Prime Video content in Filmmaker Mode, “the way the content creators intended it.” That’s a slightly nicer way of saying that Prime Video users will soon be able to automatically disable many of the dreaded, unnatural picture processing features that most smart TVs now come preloaded with by default.
Known colloquially as the “sports effect” or the “soap opera effect,” motion smoothing or motion interpolation is the process by which smart TVs try to correct for some of the blurriness that can be inherent to them. While most movies and shows are shot at 24 frames per second (fps), most of the fancy high-end TVs you can buy today have lightning-fast refresh rates, which means they’re generally capable of reconstructing more frames than are available to them. That discrepancy can create a choppy, laggy effect on any media that was shot at 24 fps—almost like a blurring effect. To solve for this, smart TV manufacturers developed motion smoothing technology, which is capable of creating new frames to sort of fill in the gaps and “trick” your eyes into thinking you’re viewing something seamless.
The problem, though, is most people absolutely hate this. Many complain that motion smoothing has the unintended consequence of creating the aforementioned “soap opera effect,” where everything looks over-processed and hyperreal. But despite being nearly universally reviled by viewers, directors, and Tom Cruise, TV manufacturers often preload their products with the feature by default.
LG first debuted Filmmaker Mode as a setting option back in 2020, but viewers had to root around in their settings menu each time they wanted to toggle the feature on—a seemingly minor inconvenience that quickly becomes completely obnoxious when you have to do it every single time you turn your TV on.
As The Verge points out, there’s also a nomenclature issue: LG refers to the setting as “TruMotion,” Vizio calls it “Smooth Motion Effect,” and Panasonic calls it “Intelligent Frame Creation,” making it even more confusing for exhausted viewers who just want to watch Survivor without feeling like they’re in the uncanny valley to turn the effect off.
According to LG’s press release, Filmmaker Mode will be able to intuitively recognize and switch off “...any picture processing settings that can make movies feel somewhat unnatural and cause them to display differently to how their directors would want while also maintaining the film’s original aspect ratio, colors and frame rate for a more authentic experience.”