Tom Cruise Wisdom

You what? Isn’t that some kind of oxymoron?! (Or is it paradox?) Wisdom … from the Scientologist who does his own stunts?

No, there’s nothing amiss, do not adjust your screen …


Tom has kindly taken time out from filming the new Top Gun film (regarding which: Squeeeeaaaall!) to tell people how to adjust the settings on their flatscreen TVs to get rid of what’s known as the ‘Soap Opera Effect’.

Also known as Motion Smoothing, this is something that recent televisions do - predominantly as standard - to make images seem, er, smoother. Which is fine if you’re watching sports (e.g. when someone hoofs a football across the pitch), but not at all fine when you’re watching a film.


Because films are usually filmed in 24 fps (frames per second), and that means you get a certain amount of motion blurring during action sequences. As far as I understand, 24fps is similar to how your own eyes would see an image. For example, if a car goes whizzing past you, or a ball is kicked towards you, it’ll be a bit of a blur. (Sometimes ‘last night’ is a bit of a blur, but that’s nothing to do with frame rate.) So if a film has suffered from Motion Smoothing, it looks … hyper-real.

You can read about it all here.

The reason Tom Cruise - and a growing number of filmmakers etc - care about this, is that it makes a Hollywood blockbuster look like Hollyoaks. I don’t mean the sets and the acting, I mean it feels like your eyelids are being forced open and ultra-glossiness smeared onto your corneas.

It’s horrible.

Even Rian Johnson cares. More than can be said about Star Wars, which he’s ruined forever.

The thing is: Filmmakers (i.e. the director, cinematographer, lighting dept, production designers etc) spend 1,000s of hours labouring over each shot, getting the sets, clothes, actions, lighting, angles etc right, so that when the camera rolls at 24fps, it looks great.

At 24fps. Not 60 or 120 fps.

Have you seen the Hobbit films? Peter Jackson shot them at 48fps (for some unknown reason). I had the misfortune to pay money to watch it in the cinema. It looks hideous. Irritating. Uncomfortable. Like watching a computer game rather than a film. That’s effectively what Motion Smoothing looks like.

So do yourself a favour and stop it.

Search for “Turn off motion smoothing [your TV brand]” and find out how.

Tom and I will be very grateful.