I’ve never watched a single film on my Sony 65″ HDR 4K TV with the “aid” of motion-smoothing, which makes everything look overly fluid and video-tapey and generally removes the scrim-texture of film. But as appalling and repellent as motion-smoothing is, I’m strangely attracted to using it when watching old black-and-white films.
There’s something hypnotic about watching, say, William Wellman‘s The Public Enemy, which I’ve seen several times since I was a kid, with the motion-smoothing effect. Shot 87 years ago, this rickety-feeling James Cagney gangster flick is a formally framed, somewhat squawky-sounding film for the most part, but with motion smoothing it feels (and I know I’m not supposed to say this) cleaner, fresher, less antiquated.
In any event, the motion-smoothing option may eventually be removed by TV manufacturers. Or at least removed as an easy default option. If Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson have anything to say about it, that is. The directors are reportedly talking to TV manufacturers in the UHD Alliance about implementing a universal “reference mode” that would kill motion smoothing and thereby make films look like they do in theatres, which is what their creators have always intended.
From a letter reportedly sent by the DGA to members: “Many of you have seen your work appear on television screens looking different from the way you actually finished it. Modern televisions have extraordinary technical capabilities, and it is important that we harness these new technologies to ensure that the home viewer sees our work presented as closely as possible to our original creative intentions.”
“TV manufacturers are reportedly open to the idea, but want to know specifics on what would be important to directors. The survey includes questions like ‘How important is it to you to have a simple way to get consumers’ home TV setup similar to monitors in the color-grading suites for viewing film and television content that YOU created?’ and ‘Would you expect this ‘reference mode’ to be called the same thing on different manufacturers of TVs?'”