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Are movies playing weirdly on your Roku TV? Here's the reason

Many Roku TV users are seeing the unwanted soap opera effect.

Published onJune 12, 2024

Stock photo of The Roku Channel logo on phone next to Roku boxes 7
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Users are reporting that their Roku TV’s motion smoothing is automatically enabled with no way to turn it off.
  • The issue seems to have started after the Roku OS 13 update on certain TCL TV models.
  • It is speculated that the issue may be linked to Roku’s new Smart Picture feature.

Owners of TCL TVs running on Roku OS are facing an unexpected problem after a recent software update. According to multiple online reports, the recent Roku OS 13 update has triggered an unwelcome side effect for some users: the dreaded “soap opera effect.” (h/t: The Verge)

The issue has sparked a flurry of complaints on Roku’s community forums and Reddit, with TCL TV owners reporting that the motion smoothing effect is suddenly present even when they haven’t actively enabled it in their settings. Adding to the frustration, some users claim that this is the first time their TVs have even offered the motion smoothing feature, and they are unable to locate any options to turn it off.

For the uninitiated, motion smoothing (also known as frame interpolation or MEMC) is a digital wizardry that aims to make videos look smoother. It does this by creating and inserting new frames between the original ones, effectively increasing the frame rate.

While this can be beneficial for certain types of content, like live sports or video games, it can also make movies and TV shows look unnaturally smooth and glossy, which many viewers find jarring and unnatural.

The culprit behind this unexpected change appears to be the new “Roku Smart Picture” feature introduced in the OS 13 update. This feature aims to optimize picture settings automatically based on the content being watched, but it seems to be mistakenly applying motion smoothing to content that doesn’t benefit from it.

Adding to the confusion, not all TCL TV owners are experiencing the problem. Some users, particularly those who have access to the “Expert” picture settings, report that they still have control over the motion smoothing feature and haven’t noticed any changes in their viewing experience. This discrepancy suggests that the issue may be affecting specific TV models or configurations differently.

If you’re experiencing the soap opera effect on your Roku TV, here’s what you can try:

  • Start playing a movie or TV show on your TV.
  • Press the Star button on your Roku remote.
  • Select “Picture settings.”
  • Select “Customize Picture Mode.”
  • Select “Expert settings.”

From there, you may be able to adjust the “Action Smoothing” setting to your preference. However, if you don’t see this option or the setting doesn’t seem to have any effect, you may need to wait for Roku to release a fix for the issue.

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