Motion interpolation is a feature that increases a video’s frame rate, usually up to the maximum frame rate of the TV. This has the effect of making movements look smoother, clearer, and more lifelike than what you typically see from movies and TV – pretty similar to the look of movement in soap operas (hence the alternate name of ‘soap opera effect’). This feature only matters if you want to be able to make movement in videos look a bit smoother.
We test all our TVs to see whether they are able to interpolate 30 fps and 60 fps video. Only 120 hz TVs will be able to interpolate 24, 30, and 60 fps video up to a higher frame rate, but some 60 hz TVs are able to interpolate 24 and 30 fps video.
When it matters
Whether motion interpolation matters is entirely down to personal preference. If you like the idea of making the movement of videos smoother than what you normally see, you should get a TV that can enable motion interpolation. If you don’t want that feature, don’t worry about it, but also don’t avoid getting a TV purely because it has interpolation capability – you can always disable it.
Sensitivity to motion interpolation varies a lot from person to person. Some people really enjoy the look of it, and others really hate it. Some don't notice the difference until it is pointed out. Overall, this feature really isn’t essential – most people will get by just fine without motion interpolation – but it could be a nice bonus for those who like it. To get an idea of what it looks like, take a look at this video. You can't see the difference in real time, because YouTube's maximum frame rate is 60 fps, and therefore cannot represent 120 fps footage. However, in slow motion, you can clearly see the added frames you get with motion interpolation.
Motion interpolation (30 fps)
What it is:
Whether the TV can take a 30 fps input and heighten the frame rate to at least 60 fps.
When it matters:
30 fps or lower videos. Includes movies, TV shows, some video games.
To pass our Motion Interpolation (30 fps) test, a TV must be able to interpolate, or smooth, a 30 fps video by increasing the frame rate up to at least 60 fps.
The results of this test reflect whether a TV is able to add smoothing to 30 fps video sources, like regular TV shows, most streaming videos, and some video games. It also means the TV will be able to smooth video with a lower frame rate than 30 fps (like 24 fps movies). Because most of the video we watch is 24 or 30 fps, this motion interpolation test is the more important of the two we conduct.
Pass (60 hz TV)
Pass (120 hz TV)
To test for this capability, we play a 30 fps video on the TV and then look for a setting that smooths out the video. Above and on the left, you can see a photo of unsmoothed 30 fps video, and in the middle, a photo of the same video after it has been interpolated on a 60 hz TV. For the sake of comparison, on the right is an image of the original footage interpolated on a 120 hz TV. You can see the video has been smoothed significantly more by the 120 hz TV, and it’s worth noting that you can't typically control the 'amount' that most TVs will interpolate. Most 60 hz TVs will interpolate video to a similar degree, and the same is true of 120 hz TVs.
Motion interpolation (60 fps)
What it is:
Whether the TV can take a 60 fps input and heighten the frame rate to at least 100 fps.
When it matters:
60 fps videos. Includes some video games, some sports channels.
Similar to our 30 fps interpolation test, we test TVs for the ability to smooth 60 fps videos. To pass, a TV needs to be able to increase a 60 fps video’s frame rate to 120 fps.
The results of this test reflect whether a TV is able to add smoothing to 60 fps video, like sports, some video games, and some streaming videos. Because 60 fps video is relatively rare, this test isn’t quite as important as our 30 fps interpolation test. It’s worth noting, however, that a TV that passes this test will be able to smooth 24 and 30 fps videos even more than a TV that only passes the 30 fps interpolation test.
To test for this capability, we play a 60 fps video on the TV, and then see if there is a motion interpolation setting that will make the video look smoother. Above on the left, you can see a photo of the unsmoothed 60 fps video, and on the right, a photo of the same video after it has been interpolated to 120 fps. Note that 60 hz TVs cannot interpolate 60 fps video to a higher frame rate, and so will always fail this test. We use this test to help determine whether a TV’s refresh rate is 60 hz or 120 hz.
How motion interpolation works
Most media is recorded at 24 frames per second, 30 fps, or 60 fps. Without interpolation, if a video’s frame rate is lower than the refresh rate of a TV (30 fps on a 60 hz TV, for example), the TV will show each frame multiple times, thereby getting the video to ‘fit’ the refresh rate. When this happens, the video looks the same as it would if the TV’s refresh rate was as low as the video’s frame rate. 24 hz video is a special exception, which we discuss in detail here.
Motion interpolation offers an alternative use for the difference between video frame rate and TV refresh rate. Instead of playing each frame multiple times, the TV’s processor will enhance the frame rate of the video by creating transitional frames and inserting them between the original frames. This makes the video match the TV’s refresh rate, but also makes it so that the movement of the video looks smoother. The image above offers a basic idea of what this looks like.
Motion interpolation's downsides
Many people appreciate the increased fluidity of interpolated video. However, motion interpolation has three main downsides:
Cinematographic purists complain that it kills the film experience and runs counter to the traditional look of movies, making videos look so realistic that it becomes unrealistic. This is why some people call this the ‘Soap Opera Effect,’ as interpolated video looks similar to the way soap operas traditionally have.
The interpolated frames could contain errors or distortions because they were generated by a computer, which is not the same as if the camera was really capturing a high frame rate.
The processing takes a certain amount of time to execute, which increases the input lag. This makes interpolation unsuitable for gaming.
Motion interpolation & motion blur
One of the main reasons people enable motion interpolation is to reduce the amount of blur on the TV. The higher frame rate reduces the length of time each frame appears onscreen, which helps improve clarity. It’s important to note, however, that while movement will become clearer, the length of the blur trail on moving objects will not change. The trail corresponds to the pixel response time, which is unaffected by motion interpolation. We discuss different elements of motion blur in greater detail on this page.
How to improve it
There are a few TVs that provide you with sliders that can let you fine-tune the amount of interpolation applied to video, which can help you get a look that is better tailored to your specific preferences. Others just have presets that you can choose from. Ultimately, there is no way to improve the functionality of motion interpolation apart from choosing the amount of interpolation that best corresponds to what you like. For the smoothest picture, choose the maximum interpolation settings. If you don’t want interpolation, just turn it off.
Here are the settings you must adjust to enable or disable motion interpolation on TVs from various brands.
Samsung: Go to Menu > Picture > Picture Options and enable/disable 'Auto Motion Plus.'
Sony: Go to Menu > Picture adjustments > Advanced settings > Motion and enable/disable 'Motionflow.'
Vizio: Go to Menu > Picture > More Picture. Adjust 'Reduce Judder' to adjust smoothing on 24p and 30p video. Adjust 'Reduce Motion Blur' to adjust smoothing on 60p video.
LG: Go to Menu > Picture > Picture Mode Settings and enable/disable 'TruMotion.'
Some TVs have an option to make the backlight flicker. This also clarifies motion, but won't make movements look like what you see in a soap opera. It does, however, dim the backlight, and sometimes you can notice the flickering of the light.
Some TVs have difficulty smoothing out videos and will skip frames on occasion. If your TV does this and it bothers you, the best option is to just disable motion interpolation altogether.
Motion interpolation is a feature that allows a TV to smooth the movement of videos. It applies equally well to all video you might watch on a TV, and while it’s not hugely important in general, some people do feel quite strongly either for or against the look of interpolated video. Our tests in this area allow us to see whether a TV is able to interpolate a 30 fps video, and also whether it is able to interpolate a 60 fps video. To get the best results from your TV, simply enable or disable motion interpolation, according to your preference.
I am worried about people who actually like the Soap Opera Effect. I fear that their eyes don't work correctly and that they are the people who cause the most car accidents on US highways. Is this a fair assessment?
Haha. To be fair though, movies will likely all have high frame rates in the future (not soon though).
Why do newer TV's make normal TV look like it's filmed in front of a green screen? The people look so real, the background looks fake. I know this can be adjusted in the settings, but I'm not sure how. What causes this?
This is caused by the motion interpolation technology (as described above). It looks like the people are in front of a green screen because it is kinda how this technology works. Think of it this way: the television sees that a person is moving in front of a background. It wants to make it smoother by introducing new frames in between existing ones. To do this, the TV "cuts" out the person from the background and moves them slightly. The "cut and paste" of the person isn't perfect though, like a person in front of a green screen, because the edge of the person does not blend perfectly. To disable this, look for the manufacturers' name for it, like Auto Motion Plus on a Samsung.
I have turned off the auto motion plus feature on my Samsung smart TV because I do not like the soap opera effect. Viewing TV, DVD, & Blu-Ray are fine, but when streaming movies through Netflix I am getting soap opera effect. Is there any way to fix this?
If you turned off the auto motion plus feature, what you see isn't the soap opera effect. It is probably judder caused by the 3:2 pulldown, which all movies have on Netflix. While Netflix does support 24p, the client software side of it doesn't because they still output at 60fps.
One of our reader also commented, that to be sure, you could also turn off motion interpolation for all video inputs available on the TV, i.e. all HDMI ports, component, video 1-2-3, etc.
How does the video processor archive blur reduction and judder reduction in AutoMotion Plus? And what are the values behind the default profiles (i.e. clear (low), standard (med) and smooth (high))?
As explained in this article, the Auto Motion Plus is Samsung's name for motion interpolation. The values are arbitrary and represent the amount of interpolation done on the video. The High setting will be a lot more aggressive in the interpolation, making it more evident to the user.
I first saw the soap opera look at Best Buy when they had demos like Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean. It amazed me and I wanted a TV to play just like that. Now it seems they have either toned the effect down or that my eyes just are used to it, because I don't see it anymore. I have the Samsung FH6030. What is the best setting to get that effect on high, or what is the best bargain TV that does it on high, like Sony, Samsung, etc?
Look for the setting called Auto Motion Plus, set it to User Defined, and then set a custom value. Increase both the dejudder and motion options to the max if you want the smoothest look.
How do you get the soap opera effect on my 60 hz TV?
Unfortunately, while some 60 hz TVs do have interpolation, they only interpolate up to 60 hz. That means that a 30 hz signal will get a smoother look, but 60 hz signals will look no different.
Other 60 hz TVs can't interpolate at all. You'll need to read up on the model beforehand to make sure you're getting a 60 hz set that can interpolate.
Awesome website Cedric! Very informative, really appreciate all of this. I learned a lot. I have a question regarding motion interpolation technology. Since you said the processors make errors, among AMP, MF and TM, which technology in your opinion is the best and makes the fewest errors?
They are all in the same ballpark. The artifacts look very similar. That said, the amount of tweaking that can be done is different. For example, Samsung has a Custom option with sliders to control the Dejudder and Deblurrer (interpolation) separately. The other brands only have a select list of presets.
With the Sony W829 there is a 200Hz panel with 800XR Motionflow. If I disable Motionflow completely in the TV's options, does it mean that I will still get that extra three frames per one actual frame of picture? Won't that still cause soap opera effect?
No, there won't be any soap opera effect if you disable it. LCD panels use a sample and hold method to display the picture. This means the pixels are constant for the whole duration of the frame of the picture. That said, the backlight might flicker, creating the illusion of multiple duplicate frames. This doesn't create the soap opera effect because the frames are exactly the same.
I have a Samsung 50" 6300 and I want the soap opera effect. I went to auto motion plus and increased blur reduction and judder reduction all the way. Is this correct, and should LED clear motion be on or off?
Yes, max out those first two settings. Whether you use LED Clear Motion or not is up to you. Try with and without and see what you like best.
I just purchased an lg 65uh8500 and used the calibration settings recommended by this site. Bravo btw. I'm in the middle when it comes to interpolation. I kind of like the soap opera effect but don't like this distortion that comes with. Can you recommend some custom settings to get the best of both worlds so to speak?
To balance the motion interpolation on the UH8500, set 'TruMotion' to 'User'. You can then adjust the values of De-Judder and De-Blur independently between 0 and 10. Try setting De-Judder to 2 and De-Blur to 4.
If, in the future, we have LCD screens with REAL 480hz or 600hz refresh rates, and they use "backlight scanning/ black frame insertion," will they have a motion blur equivalent to a plasma TV?
No, it doesn't really work like that. A plasma TV doesn't have a real refresh rate of 600Hz. The 600Hz number of plasma is just for marketing. It is actually the inverse of the length of a pulse, not frequency of a pulse. Check out our slow motion video of plasma TVs to see what it looks like. And actually, some 120Hz LCD can even have less perceived motion blur by aggressively controlling the backlight. Check out our article on motion blur to see what it looks like.
I just bought KDL-50W800C Sony Android 50 inch TV. Is there a way to totally remove Soap Opera Effect? I tried everything, but nothing seems to be working. All of the movies and TV shows look unreal, and I am dizzy watching this picture. Please help.
You need to go to 'Advanced Settings' and set the 'Smoothness' slider to 0.
I have a Sony KDL40V3000 and am looking to buy a new 40" TV. The sound quality of my V3000, especially for voice, is not very good. I have seen advertisements for the 40W600B that state "loud, clear surround sound and dialog with Clear Audio+ technology." Is this a good choice, or would I be better off with the Samsung H6350 for the same price, or the H5203 for $120 less? I do no gaming on this TV. Thanks for your advice!
Unfortunately, we didn't test the audio quality on TVs in 2014. If you really care about sound, though, you are better off buying at least an external sound bar.
I see a lot of "juddering" when 'Auto Motion Plus' is set to smooth.
This is normal. Sometimes the TV doesn't know how to interpolate the frames when the scene is complex (while displaying explosions, for example). In these cases, it doesn't create a new frame, or it delays one, either of which can result in judder.
It's my understanding that the PlayStation 3's maximum video output is capped at 60 Hz. Now, I'm a huge fan of the motion interpolation effect, and have a 55" Samsung LED HDTV. I have both the custom settings set to max. What I wanna know is, would I get an even stronger soap opera effect while playing a Blu-ray on an actual Blu-ray player versus using a PS3? Does a PS3 limit how far the motion interpolation effect can be taken on my TV? Or is it the same result visually?
It's the same result. It's the TV that does the interpolation of the signal being sent by the device, so the 'amount' of soap opera effect won't change.
I would like to know what's the best TV to play Video games with the Soap Opera Effect 120z, I want the ultimate Soap Opera Experience.
The soap opera effect (motion interpolation) isn't usually recommended for gaming because it adds a lot of input lag. However there are some TVs that have input lag under 60 ms while using motion interpolation, which is tolerable for gaming; though keep in mind that this is still often double the input lag as when interpolation is disabled. Here's a summary of your three best options:
The LG B6 is the best option, but it is also often double the price of the Sony X750D and LG UH7700. The X750D and UH7700 are fairly similar in price as well as performance; both are IPS TVs with worse than average contrast ratios, great viewing angles and low motion blur. Buy the Sony if the price is comparable and you want 65" (the only model), otherwise go with the LG; it's available in 55", 60" and 65" models.
I have a UN55HU7250FXZA Samsung and I love the soap opera effect. I have already put the settings in custom auto motion to max, but I feel as though it isn't enough and I feel like there is some blur when watching fast-paced movies. What should I do? Do I need to buy a better TV?
The interpolation feature is pretty much the same on every TV, so switching for a new one won't get you more smoothness. As for the blur, since we didn't test that TV, we can't say for sure how it does with fast movement. You could try using our motion blur test (available here to test the TV's blur for yourself. Just follow the logo with your eyes and compare what you see with the results on this page to see how your TV stacks up.
I just bought a Sony KDL65W850C. I switched from a plasma set to this Sony, as my plasma died. I was watching the Transformers movie and experienced the "soap opera effect" in its full glory. I do not like the increased motion of the movie.
Could you please advise me on how I should disable this option for movies? If I choose "True Cinema" in advanced settings, will it fully disable the "soap opera effect," or should I do a manual preset?
I have also come across your calibration settings for the TV. I noticed that colors and contrast were not as vivid as the picture look from the "Standard" pre-set. Would you know how to calibrate the TV in order to get similar experience, but with better color saturation. Many thanks for help. BTW I love your website. Thank you for putting out this review so fast. It kinda helped me with my buying decision.
Yes, True Cinema does disable the soap opera effect. It also enables judder-free 24 fps playback, which is great for watching movies.
To saturate the color in the image, increase the 'Color' setting in 'Advanced settings.'
4K resolution is currently capped at 60 hz with HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.2. Will Automotion Plus give us this "fake" 120 hz at 4K resolution, or will the frame rate of 4k material still be capped at 60 hz, even with the added interpolation?
In your experience using the motion interpolation (soap opera effect), which brand would you say has the best looking or most pronounced soap opera effect? If I am looking for the best soap opera experience between the Samsung UN60H6350, Samsung UN60H7150, and Sony KDL65W850C, would you recommend one model over another?
In terms of the appearance of soap opera effect, all of those TVs are about the same. We have noticed, though, that Samsung TVs tend to have more occasional frame skipping than Sony TVs. Between that and the larger screen, the Sony KDL65W850C is the better purchase.
I would like to know more about what Samsung TVs (let's say 120 FPS TVs, so that we don't necessarily have to talk about 3:2 pulldown) actually do when you change Blur Reduction, Judder Reduction, and LED Motion Plus settings. My understanding is that LED Motion Plus strobes the LED backlight resulting in reduced motion blur but with a dimmer image (note: they must hit the pulse brightness limit, or one would expect them to maintain the brightness level by increasing pulse light output). From much of the dialogue above it sounds like Judder and Blur Reduction both involve motion interpolation, but then why would there be separate levers for each? Does Judder = 0 mean black frame insertion, and Judder = 10 mean full motion interpolation? Does Blur Reduction = 0 mean you repeat the frame x times, and Blur Reduction = 10 mean that you are fully interpolating? Or does Blur reduction have to do with how much processing you do to reduce blur, but you get more display lag?
You got it right for how the 'LED Motion Plus' is working. This is also the mode related to black frame insertion (it isn't real black frame insertion but is caused by the backlight turning off between frames).
Both 'Judder Reduction' and 'Blur Reduction' control the TV's motion interpolation function. 'Judder Reduction' applies when the TV detects 30fps or lower content (including 30fps or 24 fps through a 60Hz signal), and 'Blur Reduction' affects 60 fps. Increasing the slider on both of these reduces the threshold for interpolation (stronger soap opera effect but more likely to introduce noticeable artifacts).
Is the difference between 120hz and 240hz motion interpolation very noticeable? I remember those 240hz quad stand Samsung TVs back in 2011-2012 looked awesome on display. I just bought a 120hz Samsung TV (UN40J6200), and since 240hz TVs don't exist anymore I'm not sure if I lost out on better looking/faster interpolation. Thank you :)
No, the difference in motion interpolation is not noticeable.
What TV has a soap opera effect that can be turned on in game mode or PC mode that I can use, 32-49inch sizes?
No TV can have low input lag with the soap opera effect turned on. To be able to interpolate between frames, the TV needs to know the future frames. Therefore, it intentionally delays frames before it displays them.
So I love Motion Flow on the Samsung H6203 and am using the available custom settings. The smoothness, lack of judder or tearing, and clarity are absolutely stunning. I feel like this is the future. Are there any big advancements in this tech coming soon?
Nothing is in sight in that area. It's likely that more and more movies will be shot in 48fps (not just The Hobbit), although it significantly increases the cost of production, so it will take a while for that to catch on.
I received a Samsung UDHTV Series 8 for X-mas. I have been reading posts to try to turn off the "soap opera" effect. I found the motion control on the TV, but it is not highlighted, so I am unable to click it to turn off the effect. I have tried changing the picture to all the settings (dynamic, normal, standard, movie) but I still cannot turn off the motion control. Do you know how to do this?
The setting is called 'Auto Motion Plus', under 'Picture Options'. Turn that off.
I have a Samsung 55" 6300 Smart TV. I have Motion Plus turned off and the TV works as I want for all inputs except a USB stick. I can switch to cable or Blu-Ray and there is no soap opera effect, but as soon as I try USB, it's back. Is there a way to disable Motion Plus for a USB input?
The USB player has its own set of settings. Therefore, you need to disable Auto Motion Plus while you are playing one file.
I just bought the JS9000 48", and I love it. I'm confused with how my tv refresh rate (120hz) works with a DVD. Don't DVDs run at 30fps? And blue rays discs typically run at 24fps? Your review said that my TV doesn't perform judder-free 24p via 60p and it also doesn't perform judder-free 24p via 60i... Now wouldn't my TV just have to take the 30fps and display the frame 4 times in order to make it judder-free? Or am I way off? Or is DVD even considered 24p via 60p or 60i source? I guess I'm just confused on whether or not my TV will play a DVD judder-free. And, I'm also confused as to why my TV can't play a 24p via 60p judder free... Because wouldn't the TV just take the 60p and display it twice? There would be no judder there. Thanks. Love you site, by the way - you guys do a fantastic job.
It will depend on your DVD player, but most recent ones transmit the signal at 24 fps, so it isn't an issue on this TV (it falls under our 'Judder-free 24p' test, which the JS8500 supports). As for why it doesn't support 24p via 60p, it is a bit more complex than just doubling it to fit 120. It needs to be able to detect that it is a 24p signal, and not a 60p one. Then once is detects it, it needs to change the frame time so they are all constant.
If you turn off motion interpolation on a tv like the Samsung J6200 that has a refresh rate of 120hz, will you still be stuck with the soap opera effect due to the tv displaying at 120hz? I am a bit confused by this. If the tv is always displaying at 120hz wouldn't that mean films and television shows would always permanently have this effect regardless of turning interpolation on or off.
No. Turning off motion interpolation will remove the 'soap opera effect' look. What 120Hz will bring to the TV is it will be able to display 24p sources like blu-ray movies without judder.
I am interested in the 2015 43" Visio E Series and my question is how do I distinguish between which has or uses Vertical Alignment (preferred-superior black level and overall picture quality) or the newer IPS Panel (in-plane switching panel). Do they have a different model number? If they are boxed is there a way to distinguish between VA and IPS? Thank you for any insight you can provide.
The way you can tell whether or not the unit is an IPS panel or not is by the 4th digit of it's serial number. If the 4th digit has a J or a 7 then it has a IPS panels, but if it doesn't, then it has a VA panel.
I have a 43" Vizio that I bought this year but it doesn't have the soap opera effect which I do want. I went to settings, picture then more picture, but it doesn't give me the option to apply it. Do you know a way to to that? I believe the model # is D43-C1
Unfortunately, there is no motion interpolation features on the Vizio D series 1080p 2016, which is needed to introduce the soap opera effect.
What settings do I need to put into my Vizio E65U to get the "soap opera" effect when I'm watching cable TV or Netflix/HBOGo/Hulu apps?
The Vizio E48u-D0 we reviewed was not able to use the soap opera effect. On Vizio TVs to enable the soap opera effect open the 'Picture Settings' on the SmartCast app and increase 'Reduce Judder' and 'Reduce Motion Blur'. If these options are not available then the TV does not support the soap opera effect.
Hi awesome site, very informative. I have a Samsung UN55H6350 and want to know if it accept 1080p/120hz input from a PC with a graphics card, it displayed 1080/75hz before but with an older pc. For gaming purposes.
We don't have the H6350 anymore to test, but it is very unlikely. We haven't seen any Samsung TVs (including the 120Hz ones) which have been able to display a 120Hz input.