Motion interpolation or motion-compensated frame interpolation (MCFI) is a form of video processing in which intermediate animation frames are generated between existing ones by means of interpolation, in an attempt to make animation more fluid and to compensate for display motion blur.
Motion interpolation is a common, optional feature of various modern display devices such as HDTVs and video players, aimed at increasing perceived framerate or alleviating display motion blur, a common problem on LCD flat-panel displays.
A display's framerate is not always equivalent to that of the content being displayed. In other words, a display capable of or operating at a high framerate does not necessarily mean that it can or must perform motion interpolation. For example, a TV running at 120 Hz and displaying 24 FPS content will simply display each content frame for five of the 120 display frames per second. This has no effect on the picture other than eliminating the need for 3:2 pulldown and thus film judder as a matter of course (since 120 is evenly divisible by 24). Eliminating judder results in motion that is less "jumpy" and which matches that of a theater projector. Motion interpolation can be used to reduce judder, but it is not required in order to do so.
The advertised frame-rate of a specific display may refer to either the maximum number of content frames which may be displayed per second or the number of times the display is refreshed in some way, irrespective of content. In the latter case, the actual presence or strength of any motion interpolation option may vary. In addition, the ability of a display to show content at a specific framerate does not mean that display is capable of accepting content running at that rate; most consumer displays above 60 Hz do not accept a higher frequency signal, but rather use the extra frame capability to eliminate judder, reduce ghosting, or create interpolated frames.
As an example, a TV may be advertised as "240 Hz", which would mean one of two things:
The TV can natively display 240 frames per second, and perform advanced motion interpolation which inserts between 2 and 8 new frames between existing ones (for content running at 60 FPS to 24 FPS, respectively). For active 3D, this framerate would be halved.
The TV is natively only capable of displaying 120 frames per second, and basic motion interpolation which inserts between 1 and 4 new frames between existing ones. Typically the only difference from a "120 Hz" TV, in this case, is the addition of a strobing backlight, which flickers on and off at 240 Hz, once after every 120 Hz frame. The intent of a strobing backlight is to increase the apparent response rate and thus reduce ghosting, which results in smoother motion overall. However, this technique has nothing to do with the actual framerate. For active 3D, this framerate is halved, and no motion interpolation or pulldown functionality is typically provided. 600 Hz is an oft-advertised figure for plasma TVs, and while technically correct, it only refers to an inter-frame response time of 1.6 milliseconds. This can significantly reduce ghosting and thus improve motion quality but is unrelated to interpolation and content framerate. There are no consumer films shot at 600 frames per second, nor any TV processors capable of generating 576 interpolated frames per second.