What is Motion Blur (Reduction)?

ProSettings | MaxLibrary9 Comments

What is Motion Blur (Reduction)?


Motion Blur Reduction is a (now common) technology on modern gaming displays. Due to something we call ‘sample-and-hold’, frames are displayed until the image refreshes (see: 'framerate') again, which, when displaying fast moving images, can cause the image to blur. Note that we’re not talking about intentional motion blur, which is added to most games and is a simple setting that you can turn off, this type of blur looks a bit more like ghosting.

Intro


When you’re gaming (for example), your display is actually showing you a whole bunch of stationary ‘pictures’, made up from all of the individual pixels on your screen, at a rate which is equivalent to your monitor’s refresh rate, provided your computer can handle running the game at your monitor’s refresh rate.

A 60Hz monitor will be displaying 60 frames (‘pictures’) per second, for example, a 120Hz monitor will display 120 frames per second. These images are displayed so rapidly that our minds interprets them as movement. Due to the way modern displays work, though, the individual pixels cannot instantaneously change their brightness and color, with most conventional monitors having a response time of a few milliseconds. Usually this is not a big issue; when you’re just browsing or watching a movie it doesn’t really matter, but when you’re playing a fast paced game this can and will cause the image to blur, potentially leading to frustration or worse performance.

A way to solve this is by using a faster refresh rate monitor (as seen in the image from blurbusters.com to the right) but modern gaming displays also feature their own technologies to limit eye tracking motion blur.




60Hz vs 120Hz

Motion Blur in Gaming


When you’re gaming (for example), your display is actually showing you a whole bunch of stationary ‘pictures’, made up from all of the individual pixels on your screen, at a rate which is equivalent to your monitor’s refresh rate, provided your computer can handle running the game at your monitor’s refresh rate.

A 60Hz monitor will be displaying 60 frames (‘pictures’) per second, for example, a 120Hz monitor will display 120 frames per second. These images are displayed so rapidly that our minds interprets them as movement. Due to the way modern displays work, though, the individual pixels cannot instantaneously change their brightness and color, with most conventional monitors having a response time of a few milliseconds. Usually this is not a big issue; when you’re just browsing or watching a movie it doesn’t really matter, but when you’re playing a fast paced game this can and will cause the image to blur, potentially leading to frustration or worse performance.

A way to solve this is by using a faster refresh rate monitor (as seen in the image from blurbusters.com) but modern gaming displays also feature their own technologies to limit eye tracking motion blur.


Eye Tracking Motion Blur
Eye Tracking Motion Blur

How Motion Blur Reduction Works


Eye-tracking motion blur can be reduced by limiting the amount of time that a frame is displayed for. As mentioned before, raising the refresh rate of a monitor works for this, as well as introducing a strobing effect, done by turning the backlight off between refreshes, as opposed to leaving it on the entire time. This is how all of those Motion Blur Reduction features work.

This effect isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it reduces the amount of time where you’re actually looking at each pixel, reducing the amount of time that a certain frame is displayed even further. This isn’t unlike those old CRT monitors (which some of your old school gamers will fondly remember) which, due to the way their technology worked, had this strobing effect built in, causing the image displayed by them to look and feel much smoother to our human eyes.

For a good (moving) example of how black frame insertion (i.e. ‘strobing’) can help with smoothing out an image you can go to Blur Buster’s UFO test here.

These blur reducing features are almost always optional, as for strobing to work you need a decently powerful GPU (or at least one which can keep a steady amount of high frames). Another downside of these technologies is the fact that screen brightness can be reduced, since the screen backlight is turned off for (very brief) periods of time.



Commong Gaming Brand Names For MBR

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
9 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mitch

I have a question, i hope you guys are still reading, but first off thank you for writing this article. So back to my question, is it possible than motion blur can cause a small headache when gaming? I play on an 144hz monitor overclocked to 165hz, but its gives me an headache and my eyes cant relax, while when i was playing on an 75hz one that never happend and i never experienced motion blur, the monitor with 144hz btw is the QG241YP by acer (made for gaming, more likely made for headache). And also i tried all settings, should i turn over drive off or leave it on, or is there an way in i.e nvidia panel or windows settings to reduce the blur?

ProSettings | Lars

Well, different people react differently to different stimuli so it’s impossible for us to say whether or not your headaches are caused by the monitor. Motion blur is actually caused by (among other factors) lower framerates, so it would seem weird that a lower framerate is giving you less headaches. Perhaps it’s something to do with the games that you play being different or something or the brightness of the new monitor being set higher? We’re not doctors so we’re obviously not giving medical advice here, but I would maybe see if has something to do with the things I mentioned but if you really have trouble with these headaches I’d definitely recommend asking someone more qualified (your physician) about it.

Anonymous

I just have a question, how can turning off the display’s backlight reduce motion blur?

ProSettings | Lars

That depends on the brand of your monitor, but it should be quite easy to find the setting in your On Screen Display (or by referring to the manual).

Smoke

To play as a pro player, the ideal would be activated or deactivated?

Anonymous

I don’t really want to reduce motion blur because I like it and I am sure that I am (maybe) a pro player. So, nope; Not every pro player wants to reduce it

Chan

Do all 240Hz monitors have screen tearing or motion blur? ( FPS is above 240)
For example, ZOWIE XL2540 without DyAc and ZOWIE XL2546 with DyAc, there shouldn’t be any image difference or screen tearing or motion blur on those two monitors even XL2546 with DyAc on, right?