It's Time for Smooth Motion Prohibition

Via Flickr user Ryan Heaney
November 7, 2014

Have you ever been watching television at a friend's house—one of those big, 60-inch LCD joints—and wondered to yourself "My god, why does the picture look so crappy? Why does it look like we're watching a video taped soap opera produced in the early 1990s?" Odds are your friend had failed to turn off the motion smoothing setting on his unit. What is motion smoothing, you ask?

Reed Morano is the cinematographer behind such independent films as Frozen RiverKill Your Darlings, and The Skeleton Twins. She now has added something else to her resume: leader of a quixotic campaign against Big Television.

Morano's big problem is motion interpolation, a feature of big HDTVs also known as "smooth motion," "auto motion plus," and "motion flow." It's meant to reduce motion blur, making objects on-screen move smoothly. Morano doesn't condemn the effect entirely. She'll concede that it looks great for sports, for example. But, she says, what works for a football game doesn't work for movies—it takes her craftsmanship and "turns it into an episode of 'One Life To Live,'" she says. 

The sticking point is that so many new televisions come with this setting as the default, and turning it off means burrowing down a series of complex menus that act as a barrier for most consumers. So she's started an online petition and people are taking notice.

Finally. People are finally starting to take notice of this absurd abomination. I've been complaining about this for years, to no avail. Better late than never.

Look. I'm pro-choice in a lot of ways. I'm anti-excessive-government-regulations. If people want to smoke pot or get drunk, go for it. But smooth motion, motion flow, whatever you want to call this demon in our TVs? It has to go. And it has to go forever. Some, like Townhall's Kevin Glass, will tell you that this is just a matter of choice. "If the elderly want to make Tarantino look like Days Of Our Lives, I say they go for it," he said on Twitter. But some things are too important to be left up to the individual to decide. Some activities are so harmful to oneself and others that they must be banned; people can't be trusted to use this technology responsibly. Indeed, the very fact that some people are inclined to defend this horrid perversion of the moving image shows just how important a total ban is.

That's why I'm calling for an action all parties can get behind: Motion Smoothing Prohibition. A bipartisan group could easily cobble together a coalition that would enforce an anti-smoothing regime at the federal level. TVs should no longer be offered with the option to use this monstrous, destructive setting. Sure, we'll have to allow it in some places—heavily regulated sports bars, for instance, will be permitted to purchase a limited number of smooth-motion-enabled televisions. But for the good of the Republic—nay, for the good of our very souls—it must be banned from every home, every storefront, every office. Sing it loud, sing it proud: "Interpolation Is An Abomination!" "No Motion, Yes Peace!" "We're Here! We're Clear! We Don't Want Any More Motion Flow!"

In these troubled times, it's important to find an issue every American can rally around. By God, I think we've found that issue.

And once motion smoothing falls? Well, you aspect ratio abusers are next in my sights. Don't think I've forgotten about you.