A bad case of motion blur can turn a thrilling adventure film or sporting event into a hazy mess. The technology behind LCD televisions, especially older ones, can lend itself to motion blur. Most modern LCD and LED televisions feature tools and settings to adjust motion blur, enabling you to reduce it as desired.
Causes of Motion Blur
Motion blur has several possible causes, most of which can be addressed. The first is a slow response time from the panel itself, wherein the lag between pixel color changes produces a small blur effect. Another cause common in movies is film-to-video conversion, a problem originating with the film standard of 24 frames per second and televisions that can play at much faster rates like 60FPS. As such, the TV's software has to generate extra frames to fill the gaps based on estimations from the original frames, often resulting in blur or judder. Your TV's scaler can also be at fault, re-sizing video that wasn't meant for the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio or that doesn't fit at least 720p resolution so it displays properly on your television. As with the film-to-video conversion, the computer's software has to create extra pixels to accommodate the size change, resulting in blur or haze.
Preventing Motion Blur
Preventing motion blur primarily comes down to your choice of television and video media. Televisions with higher refresh rates will generally eliminate most of the motion blur problems that plague older televisions with lower rates. TVs with refresh rates of 60Hz should do fine, but 120Hz or 240Hz will result in the best currently-available quality. If the issue is film-to-video conversion, consider investing in a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray is optimized for high-definition content, and most films on Blu-ray are remastered with HD in mind. If you're using digital media like MP4 video files, try to get a file with resolution matching your television, or at least, as close as possible.
Most modern televisions also have motion blur adjustment settings. Typically, these are found in the Display settings menu, although there may be a dedicated menu for motion, or it may be located in the general settings menu: Check your owner's manual for details regarding your television. Depending on the TV, there may also be judder control. You'll likely have to choose the refresh rate and there may be a slider bar for adding or reducing overall blur. The level of control will vary depending on your television's make and model.
The "Soap Opera" Effect
There's a flip-side to motion blur reduction: the so-called "Soap Opera Effect." The SOE refers to what happens when motion blur is reduced too much, creating such incredibly crisp and clean video that the "film" effect is lost. The result is an image that feels like raw video instead of a polished film, which can sometimes give a cheap feeling to video that should otherwise be very impressive. With most televisions, this can be remedied by adjusting the motion blur so that it isn't completely eliminated, only minimized to an acceptable level.