Tom Cruise Explains Why Your TV is Messing Up His Films

Tom Cruise Explains Why Your TV is Messing Up His Films

A finished film is the final product of months of meticulous work by a crew of hundreds of creative and technical talents who worked diligently to meet the vision of the director. Shown on the big screen, the film will be seen by audiences as the director intended. But Tom Cruise wants you to know that your ultra-high definition television may be robbing you of some of the magic when you watch the same film in your home. 

Cruise, who is filming the sequel to Tony Scott's homage to U.S. Navy fighter pilots, "Top Gun," took a break with "Top Gun: Maverick" director Christopher McQuarrie to explain to Facebook users why films often look so different on their high-def televisions in a short video. 

In the post, Cruise and McQuarrie explain that many of today's high-definition televisions employ a technical trick to smooth out motion blur, called video interpolation. The smoothing effect is great for watching your favorite sporting events, as players and fast moving objects — such as a baseball or a hockey puck — remain sharp and visible. 

But when applied to film, where directors intentionally use motion blur to achieve a desired look, the result is a strange viewing experience. Cruise calls it a "soap opera effect," though I've always thought it looks more like you're seeing behind-the-scenes footage. 

So, if you're interested in fixing that somewhat disorienting look on your television or understanding why it happens, check out the short video by Cruise and McQuarrie and then head to Google for step-by-step instructions to getting the best viewing experience out of your television. 

Have you ever noticed the odd look of a film when video interpolation is applied? Has it bothered you or did you just brush it off? Drop a comment below and give us your thoughts.

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21 Comments

Stephen Hutchinson's picture

I've seen it in Best Buy, and I've hated it ever since. Thankfully my TV isn't even capable of doing this.

Mark James's picture

You are so lucky. :)

michaeljin's picture

It bothered me when I first bought my TV. Now I don't even notice it.

Brian Pernicone's picture

I've seen it on my sister's television and bothered me to no end watching "The Return of the King." I'm not sure I could get used to it if my TV looked that way.

Is like viewing a film at 60 fps it really looks unnatural to me, as my brain is expecting 24 or 30 fps

Sean Sauer's picture

I turn it off every time I encounter it. Anytime the camera is handheld in that mode it makes me physically sick. It feels unnatural to my eye and drives me crazy. Maybe it's just because I've been trained on 24/30fps?

Nic Hilton's picture

Been noticing this crap for years. I can’t CANT stand it. Whenever I go to someone’s house and their tv looks like this, I wait til they leave the room and do whatever I can to turn it off. It’s awful and people that like it are what’s wrong with the world.

I 100% share this sentiment

Tom Lew's picture

Tom Cruise: All hail lord Xenu! Also turn off the video interpolation. Xenu 4 eva!!!!

Fritz Asuro's picture

I don't even have a TV!

SEAN SHEPHERD's picture

is that the setting that makes him look taller ?

Rob Mynard's picture

No he looks taller by standing on a TV, and that got a lot harder due to flat screens.

SEAN SHEPHERD's picture

thank goodness someone still has a sense of humor around here

user-146450's picture

I stopped being a fan after mission impossible when the storyline was all about him. In the original series (yes im that old) there was more dialogue, and storyline about the team.

Allen Butler's picture

Holy shit! I've been talking about this for years, and only a few people understood what I was talking about. I called it the Mexican soap opera effect. That's hilarious!

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Same here, my mother in law's TV has it on and it seem I'm the only one who is bothered by it

Jarrett Hunt's picture

Now I'm going to go check my tv

Rex Jones's picture

Oh, I absolutely hate it. The “soap opera” effect is aptly named. I haven’t enjoyed it with anything I’ve watched, even sports. It just feels unnatural.

It’s sad how many video professionals I work with that don’t notice or care about this effect. It’s even sadder that TV manufacturers not only think viewers want this, but that it “improves” things, and they market it as such and people lap it up.

I also disable “Reality Creation”, “Motion Flo”, “fill-in-the-_______-marketing-name-here” whereever I can.

michaeljin's picture

I actually think it improves watching sports quite a bit and I keep it on all the time just because I don't feel like flipping through menu crap every single time I'm switching between sports or other programming. Ideally, there would be a button on your remote to swap this quickly or maybe something embedded in movies and tv shows that automatically triggers TV's to disable it while they're playing.

Very good points. It certainly isn't objectionable for ALL content, as you say. There actually is something embedded in movies and TV shows that could trigger the processing software to disable the "smoothing", or, more accurately inherent to them... video processor chips have long been able to detect content that was originally 24p, in days past to trigger proper deinterlacing and reverse 3:2 pulldown of it, but they can still do it today. It would be as simple as providing options to disable the interpolation on any 3:2 pulldown content (for 30p or 60p sources) and not applying it to native 24p sources.