Tom Cruise has made an impassioned public service announcement telling people how to adjust their TV sets.
Dressed in a flight suit, the actor took a break from the set of the new Top Gun movie to take a stand against the vexed issue of motion smoothing on televisions.
Cruise teamed up with Mission: Impossible – Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie for the unusual 90-second video. He posted it to Twitter, where it made quite the splash.
The star’s crusade starts with him smiling reassuringly before turning serious when explaining the evils of motion smoothing, known more casually as “the soap opera effect.”
Cruise, 56, admits in the video that “the unfortunate side effect” of the technology it makes it seem like movies were “shot on high-speed video rather than film”.
The reason for the announcement’s timing? Fallout has just been released on Blu-ray, and Tom wants us to enjoy it to the max.
I’m taking a quick break from filming to tell you the best way to watch Mission: Impossible Fallout (or any movie you love) at home. pic.twitter.com/oW2eTm1IUA
— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) December 4, 2018
He allows a note of indignation to creep in when getting technical about motion smoothing, a factory setting on many TV sets to enhance the picture on screen.
Motion smoothing, or interpolation, artificially adds additional frames to the moving image to reduce blurring. It’s great for sport but not much else.
“Most HDTVs come with this feature already on, by default,” says Cruise, complaining that manufacturers make it unclear how to disable it.
Which is why he and McQuarrie – whose hot tip is for people to just hit Google and find out how to change to the right settings – are here to help with an old-school how-to graphic.
“If you own a modern high-definition television,” Cruise says, “there’s a good chance you’re not watching movies the way the filmmakers intended, and the ability for you to do so is not simple to access.”
Twitter immediately got around the star for his service to the wider community.
“Call it what you want, but I don’t think enough people are standing up to video interpolation, and I fully support Tom and his friend,” said one user.
“Quite possibly the greatest PSA of all time,” said another. Alex Scott, a senior director on Big Brother UK, called Cruise’s mission “spot on. Can you do one to stop people shooting video in portrait mode too?”
A fourth user was wowed by the merging of Tom and tech instructions: “Why have I watched this five times? This is my jam.”
Even Popular Science weighed in, telling Cruise, “We got you.”
Other people believed they saw something more in the video than a kindly movie star taking time out to look after the folks.
Did Tom Cruise really cut a weird "your TV is wrong" ad with a obtuse occult symbol behind him? You decide. (Yes) pic.twitter.com/1QiVV5JNWT
— Christian McCrea (@christianmccrea) December 4, 2018
While Cruise’s approach has attracted instant global attention, he isn’t alone in hating the technique.
“It takes the cinematic look out of any image and makes it look like soap opera shot on a cheap video camera,” wrote American director Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale.)
She started a petition calling for TV makers to turn off the setting, which in essence “is taking the artistic intention away from filmmakers.”
Meanwhile, Cruise – sounding like an A380 captain who has safely landed his aircraft with no loss of life or property – ends the video with a personal message to those taking his advice on board.
“On behalf of everyone who works so hard to bring you the very best motion picture experience, thank you very much for listening.”