Christopher Nolan and DGA Pushing Back Against Motion Smoothing on New TVs


Buying a brand new, top of the line TV should guarantee you an amazing home theatre experience but these days that is not necessarily the case. There is a lot of calibration and set up required to get an optimum viewing experience and many people simply do not have the time, knowledge or enthusiasm to fix it. Perhaps the biggest example of this is motion smoothing, a default feature on most TVs that is used to avoid blurriness when watching fast-moving visuals like live sports. Unfortunately, motion smoothing makes movies look like garbage, giving them the dreaded “soap opera effect.” Now Christopher Nolan is hoping to change that by putting his weight behind a campaign to reduce the prevalence of motion smoothing. Hit the jump for more info.

According to /Film, last week members of the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) received a letter from Nolan and Jonathan Mostow, co-chairs of the DGA’s Creative Rights Committee. They have opened a dialogue with the UHD Alliance, notifying them that they would like to stop having their movies butchered on HD and 4K TVs. Their hope is to establish a new “reference mode” that acts as a simple setting on newer TV models that automatically gives an optimal viewing experience for movies. They are asking DGA members for their feedback and recommendations for what this reference mode should include.

What they won’t be doing is eliminating motion smoothing altogether (it does have its uses), but they are looking to make it as easy as possible for a user to turn it off when watching movies. If they could somehow make it disabled by default, that would be even better, but something tells me that won’t happen. Sony also recently teamed up with Netflix to offer a special “Netflix calibrated mode” for similar reasons, although it only apparently works with Netflix content. Do you think this will actually help people fix their TV settings or is the real problem that the average consumer simply does not care?

  • 1138sw

    Unfortunately the average viewer does not care. They bring home a tv and unless they pay for calibration most people are not going to spend the time to research the correct calibration on line for their TV. Most people are pretty happy with what they see out of the box.

    That being said yeah I hate motion smoothing and the dreaded soap opera effect so I turn it off. If Nolan and others want to address that issue I really don’t see that as a problem.

    That being said making a standard overall calibration for TV’s is going to be the big issue. Most TVs have different Tech that address motion quality in both light and dark situations. Most Manufactures use the same factory for the panels but the image tech that drives picture quality is different from Sony to LG. Trying to get some sort of universal picture quality standard that all the big wigs can agree upon…well that is going to be mighty difficult.

  • Thank Christ. To hell with Motion Smooting. Worst invention ever.

    …unless I’m watching football. Which is never.

  • Lior

    I applaud Nolan but it’s an interesting conundrum because what it comes down to is wanting to “save” people from something they don’t want or care to be saved from. Whoever is aware of this, and is passionate about film, already knows it’s the first thing one should do when buying a new TV. Cancel the figgin’s motion smoothing. But when I’m at someone else’s place, and we watch a movie, and I point it out, they don’t really know what I’m talking about, and after I cancel the smoothing I get response like “I don’t see that much difference, but if you say it’s better…”

    Most people simply don’t care.

    But I would think applying this would be as simple as not making the smoothing the default option, no?

  • Blake in Boston

    As much as I like Matt Gourley, smoothing is visual diarrhea. I’m with Nolan on this one.

  • Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

    >”Most Manufactures use the same factory for the panels but the image tech that drives picture quality is different from Sony to LG. Trying to get some sort of universal picture quality standard that all the big wigs can agree upon…well that is going to be mighty difficult.”

    That’s simply not true at all. For example, for image, you got color accurate image standards like sRGB or that everyone can (and ought to, but don’t) follow.

    As for motion smoothing, you seem completely oblivious about the topic you are talking about. Motion smoothing entails adding extra frames to the already existing images. Everybody is doing the same procedure here. I don’t really understand why you’re even asking for a “standard”? Motion smoothing is an effect, out of many. A pretty simple one at that. Why would there even need to be standard? It’s not like we’re talking about color accuracy or dynamic range here.

    Christopher Nolan is little cry baby. Motion smoothing isn’t forced upon anybody. You can turn it off on every TV that has it. Why then does he want to remove? The guy literally wants to give us less options here. When I buy my Samsung Galaxy phone out of the box, it’s very saturated and not accurate at all. But a simple step of going into display settings and changing option to sRGB mode, giving me proper color accuracy, will help me give me WHAT I WANT. But there are others who prefer the saturated mode that comes with it stock. And there are people who prefer some of the other modes that Samsung provide. The point is that we have all these alternatives.

    Nolan, on the other hand, is saying “my way is the best way, and everything else should be removed”. The ever rightist, elitist prick as he has proven himself to be, with some of his fascist propaganda movies.

  • windh

    Great initiative.

  • windh

    Hopefully you can enjoy sports at 60 fps, at least MLB does.

  • Lori Cerny

    I am “most people” who don’t calibrate anything and can’t be bothered.

    If I don’t watch TV and only stream digital movies, would I notice motion smoothing?

  • Sean

    It could definitely apply regardless of what you are watching. The only way to know for sure is to check your settings and see if it is enabled. But different TVs call it different things (ie. TruMotion, MotionFlow, SmoothMotion, Intelligent Frame Creation, etc).

  • gibson8

    What has Matt Gourley got to do with this?

  • gibson8

    So if Lori doesn’t check her settings then she would have no idea what effect was applied. I think that is what she was getting at ie it doesn’t apply to people who adopt tech as is, out of the box. It will become the new normal if enough users accept it.

  • Blake in Boston

    He’s been on record on this very FJ podcast for being pro-smoothing. #LoseTheSmooth

  • gibson8

    Matt is not a tech guy like Jay or even Frank so that is a pretty arbitrary thing for him to say however #loosethesmooth.

  • Lori Cerny

    Kind of like Wendy’s Baconator!!!

  • 1138sw

    Oh it’s you the annoying antagonist. I thought you went away with the wind. But I see you still peruse this site to reacquaint yourself with your own insulting, elitist, pointless drivel…

    Welcome back.

  • Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

    As usual, you are completely incapable of providing proper, mature response to my arguments, and go straight ahead attacking me as a person in desperate reaction. Standard operating procedure.