SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Say “motion interpolation’ and no one really gets offended. Mention it in film circles and you’ll be asked to sign a petition against its very existence. It sounds harmless. But once you’ve seen it, you’ve ingested the blue pill. Buy a new TV and what you buy is a glimpse of a hyper real (really awful) view of the world. You can’t turn it off. Choice has been remotely removed.
In technical terms, it’s just an effect. Originally created to lessen the motion blur on HDTV’s. Cinematically, it’s the equivalent of poking someone in face, with a botox needle, repeatedly. Ironically designed to create a more cinematic experience its ‘overall impression of smoothness’ flattens the tacit nuances of film. Squashing them into the same space as cheap, soap opera quality video.
Filmmakers devote their lives to creating amazing moments. Our job is to expose parts of ourselves to conjure up frames that alter audience perception. To dull that connection is unforgiveable. You wouldn’t fall in love with a person who couldn’t register emotion. You pretty much can’t. We’re biologically programmed to react to facial expressions and visual nuance. This setting on your TV exists because someone you don’t know, decided for you, that your favourite movie of all time wasn’t smooth enough, or perfect enough, or ordered enough.
When you watched E.T. did you see the gaps between the visual information or were you transfixed as Elliot and ET flew across the moon on a bicycle? The power of cinema to transport you is based in imperfection. It is a trick of the eye. A delicate alchemy of contrast, depth and motion blur. Without these tools you’re distracted by perfection. Seeing the world through the filter of someone else’s imagination is how you transcend reality – not be immersed in it. I am encouraging you to care about your right to feel moved by someone else’s interpretation of something. Not because I am in film, but because like you, I am often just a person waiting to be swept away. If you want real, take a walk outside. It is not the job of a movie to replicate what lies beyond the window. Its job is to transport you, for a brief spell, into enchantment.
Every single day there are a thousand stops on the spectrum from dawn to dusk. Why not experience them all? No one creates stand out in a world of ersatz. As long as we are working to make moments that matter, we must protect the beautiful imperfectness of life. Anesthetize the subtle differences that set us apart and you hold audiences at arm’s length. It’s not a phrase that offends many people, but it should be. In a time where we are taught to praise sameness, the last thing we should agree to paralyse is the magic of other.
Written by Dani Hynes | director