Skip to main content

What is the Soap Opera Effect? How to disable motion smoothing on your TV

So, you just got a brand new TV, it's all set up and mounted, and you've just fired it up to have your mind blown with that excellent new-TV image. But something looks weird. Everything's hyperrealistic, almost like you're watching a home video or a bad soap opera. Don't panic, though.




5 minutes

What You Need


  • TV remote

What you're looking at is a common feature that many TV manufacturers have been building into TVs since around the time that 4K TVs came onto the scene. What you’re seeing goes by a few different names, included motion smoothing, motion compensation, or video interpolation, but is more commonly known as the Soap Opera Effect. The good news is, it’s easy to fix, and doing so can help you enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows as they were meant to be seen.

even 8k tvs are discounted in the early black friday deals samsung 85 inch tv

What is the Soap Opera Effect?

From the way people talk about it, you might think the Soap Opera Effect is a bug, but it’s actually a purpose-built feature found in many modern TVs. It goes by many names, as we’ll detail later, but we know the technology behind it as video interpolation, or more commonly, motion smoothing. A feature deliberately added to most modern TVs, it arose to solve a problem, not create one.

Unlike old CRT and plasma TVs, many modern TVs such as LED, LCD, OLED, and QLED displays have problems with motion blurring. Some are more sensitive to it than others, but when an TV has to display fast motion — quick-moving sports or video games, for example — the blur can be excessive, obscuring image detail. To help combat this problem, TV manufacturers started using displays with higher refresh rates, moving from the native 60Hz refresh rate used in older TVs to more modern 120Hz to 240Hz panels.

Since most sources of video — including broadcast and streaming — don’t stream at this frame rate, however, motion smoothing came along to “fake” a higher frame rate by inserting images in between the actual 30 or 60 frames per second that come from your cable box, game console, or antenna. It creates these new images when your TV analyzes the picture and digitally guesses at what new images it could insert. They even use this frame guessing game on some OLED and QLED TVs.

Motion smoothing works fine for sports programming and video games because of their methods of content recording and/or producing, but we’re used to seeing lower frame rates in many TV shows and movies, most of which are recorded at 24 frames per second. Therefore, people were unnerved watching The Hobbit at 48 frames per second as opposed to the 24 fps we’ve been seeing from film reels for decades and mimicked by digital cameras and projectors later on. Many people who saw the film thought it looked unnatural and frequently commented that it looked too real.

Sound familiar? Also, showing 24-fps content with frame interpolation for 120Hz displays messes with the cadence, as the display is adding frames that never existed. It is literally fake and removes the judder between frames we expect to see. That’s why it can be so annoying. That said, motion smoothing is not always a bad thing.

The benefits of motion smoothing

As mentioned above, motion smoothing can be great for sports and video games, as it leads to smoother-looking action. Even if the Soap Opera Effect bothers you (some people are more sensitive to it than others), you may well find it preferable for sports.

Motion smoothing doesn’t perturb everyone, and some people even like it for watching TV shows, depending on how they’re shot. There are even some people, rare though they may be, who prefer watching movies with motion smoothing turned on. Finally, there are people who notice nothing amiss. If you’re reading this article and wondering why you’ve never seen this so-called Soap Opera Effect, you may be one of them, and that’s OK too.

If you don’t notice motion smoothing, or if you prefer it, then there’s no harm in leaving it on. Motion smoothing doesn’t damage your eyes or anything like that (as much as those who hate it might believe otherwise). If you can’t stand it, here’s how to turn it off.

Zeke Jones/Digital Trends

How to disable motion smoothing and fix Soap Opera Effect

In virtually all cases, all you need to do is adjust one setting on your TV and the Soap Opera Effect will vanish. The hardest part is finding that exact setting on your TV -- as it goes by several names — and ensuring it’s disabled for all sources.

Every TV manufacturer seems to use its own term for motion smoothing. LG calls it TruMotion, Samsung calls it Auto Motion Plus, Sony calls it MotionFlow, TCL calls it Action Smoothing, and Vzio's is named Smooth Motion Effect. Outside of a few edge cases, the setting for your TV probably has the word “motion” somewhere in the name. One notable exception is Hisense, which calls its motion smoothing UltraSMR.

It’s this wild-west naming problem that is at the core of most people’s confusion around the Soap Opera Effect, and how to disable it. It’s such a common problem, the UHD Alliance proposed that all TV manufacturers add a button to their remote controls called “Filmmaker Mode." Pressing it would instantly disable all forms of motion smoothing regardless of what the TV manufacturer calls it or how hidden that setting may be.

Companies like Vizio, LG, Samsung, and Panasonic have committed to adding Filmmaker Mode to their TVs. In fact, since 2020, LG TVs have Filmmaker Mode embedded in the coding for Amazon Prime Video, ensuring the motion filter is disabled while watching Prime Video movies and shows.

But until Filmmaker Mode exists across the board, however, read on to find out how to find motion smoothing on your TV and turn it off.

Step 1: Motion smoothing is likely under the picture settings, but exactly where it’s located is going to change from manufacturer to manufacturer. You might even have a button that performs the equivalent of Filmmaker Mode on your remote, but with the general trend of simplifying TV remotes, this likely won’t be the case if you have a newer TV.

Step 2: To find motion smoothing, navigate to the Settings menu and find the Picture settings sub-menu. Most of the time, it will list motion smoothing toward the bottom, after you’ve passed more traditional settings like Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness. Sometimes, you may have to go into a separate section, sometimes called Advanced Picture Settings or something similar.

Step 3: Certain TVs automatically turn on motion smoothing for set picture modes, like Sports or Vivid picture, but don’t enable it for the Cinema setting. This can make things easier, but if you’re the type that likes to adjust your own TV settings for the best picture for your environment, you must hunt down the option and turn it off.

Step 4: Furthermore, if you’re using the onboard apps in a smart TV, your adjusted picture setting may not apply to streaming content on apps like Netflix or Hulu. If this happens, you’ll have to completely turn off the setting while you’re streaming through the app. Sometimes, you may find a Global option for all settings adjustments, which we recommend, as it should apply any settings you make across all sources.

Step 5: Samsung, LG, and Sony are three of the biggest TV brands on the market. That being said, we've gone ahead and put together step-by-step instructions for disabling whatever motion smoothing feature is built into these sets and a few more.

Samsung: Grab your TV remote and press the Menu or Settings button. Select Picture > Expert Settings > Auto Motion Plus. Then, select Auto Motion Plus and toggle the setting off.

LG: Press the Home button on your TV remote. Select Picture Mode > Picture Options, then switch TruMotion from the smooth setting to off.

Sony: Press the Settings button on your TV remote. Then, go to Picture Settings > Advanced Settings. Next, go to the Motion Settings and turn Motionflow off.

TCL: On your TCL remote, press the * button and navigate to picture options. Scroll down to find the advanced options > advanced picture settings. Choose Action Smoothing and turn it off.

Vizio: Go to settings > picture options > advanced. Select the Smooth Motion Effect and turn it off.

So you’ve gotten rid of the dreaded Soap Opera Effect, but now you’re finding things look a little blurrier than they used to. Some TVs only offer those two options, so you’re stuck choosing between the Soap Opera Effect or blurring. Others, however, especially those on the higher end, offer blur-reducing technologies that don’t rely on motion smoothing or provide an adjustable range of smoothing so your experience is less jarring.

Play around with your TV settings and see what it offers. If you have a high-end TV with a lot of options, it’ll be no problem to get rid of the blur and judder (a stuttering effect most noticeable in camera pans) while still enjoying a smooth viewing experience.

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Bizzaco
Michael Bizzaco has been writing about and working with consumer tech for well over a decade, writing about everything from…
What is YouTube Music? Everything you need to know
YouTube Music Logo.

Google once had its own dedicated music player called Google Play Music -- and if you’ve looked into that streaming option lately, you will see that it’s been shut down. As you may know, people regularly use YouTube itself to play music, search for new songs, and assemble playlists of their favorites. This prompted Google to release a new, upgraded service called YouTube Music, a music-only source for streaming your tunes.

Is YouTube Music a contender along with apps like Spotify, Tidal, or Apple Music? Well, that may depend on how much you use YouTube to look for music and how important music videos are to you. Here’s everything you should know.

Read more
How to switch from Spotify to Apple Music
Spotify and Apple Music transfer on a smartphone.

Spotify is the world's most popular music streaming service for a reason. It has a massive catalog of music and podcasts, is full of cool music discovery and sharing features, and is really easy to use.
However, with its recent price increase and the fact that it still hasn't joined most of its peers in offering a hi-res audio quality option, you may be considering jumping ship for its closest competitor, Apple Music, which counts lossless hi-res tracks, mind-bending spatial audio, Dolby Atmos Music tracks, and a catalog that rivals Spotify's among the many attractive reasons to switch.

But there's one problem: you’ve spent a lot of time creating playlists and marking songs and albums as your favorites in Spotify. Is it worth the switch? Will all that hard work be lost in translation?

Read more
Fluance’s new RT81+ flagship turntable is $300 worth of versatility
The Fluance RT81+ Elite turntable with a white speaker on a table.

Canadian hi-fi audio makers Fluance today launched a new addition to its flagship Elite lineup of turntables, the , an upgraded version of its popular entry-level record player, the RT81. Known for their hefty build quality and stable, anti-resonant performance, the $300 RT81+ pushes things further with a new Audio-Technica cartridge that is fully upgradeable, a redesigned anti-resonant aluminum platter, and new sound-isolating feet.

At the $300 price range, the belt-driven Fluance RT81+ Elite straddles the fine line between entry-level and mid-range, making an intriguing option for those just getting into vinyl records and those who either have a little more money to spend or want to take the next step. Like many of Fluance's other turntables, like the higher-end RT85N Reference turntable, what helps make these next steps possible is upgradeability.

Read more