Filmmaker Mode – Coming to a TV near you

Filmmaker Mode lets you watch your movies and TV shows the way the filmmakers intended. The initiative by the UHD Alliance adds a new TV picture mode on supported UHD TVs that will preserve creative intent and provide a better cinematic experience for the viewer.

Filmmaker Mode was announced back in August, but its implementation is expected to start around the time CES 2020 kicks off in Las Vegas next month.

Remember more than a year ago when Tom Cruise made his plea to viewers to turn of anti-motion smoothing? Well, I don’t think people at home took much notice, but the rest of the film industry did.

Most people watching TV have never changed any of the settings on their TV. They simply buy the TV, turn it on, and then watch. Often the dreaded motion smoothing is turned on by default.

I never want to be one of those people who go over to a family or friend’s place and start messing around with their TV settings. Just because I like to watch things correctly doesn’t mean everyone else does. If someone has been perfectly happy watching content on their TV, even if the settings are all wrong, then who am I to change it. But, what if you didn’t have to be that person? Well, the UHD Alliance might just have a solution, and that solution may be coming sooner than you think.

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You can’t educate people who don’t want to be educated, so to make things easier, filmmakers, Hollywood Studios, consumer electronics companies, and the UHD Alliance have collaborated to improve the home theater viewing experience. How have they done this? By disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) and preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates, Filmmaker Mode enables your TV to display the movie or television show’s content precisely as it was intended by the filmmaker.

While Filmmaker Mode is a step in the right direction, it is only going to be initially available in new TVs from Panasonic, LG, and VIZIO. Whether other TV manufacturers jump on board or older TVs that can be firmware upgraded will get the Filmmaker Mode is still unknown.

What will also be interesting to see is what happens with mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. With more and more people now watching content on these devices, will companies such as Apple eventually get involved?

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Starting with models in its 2020 Smart TV lineup, VIZIO will provide consumers with access to the benefits of Filmmaker Mode.

So how does it work?

Unlike previous picture mode settings in older and current TVs which usually required the user to enter one or more menus to find and select, Filmmaker Mode will be activated either automatically, through metadata embedded in the content, or through a single button which enables the consumer to activate Filmmaker Mode without moving through multiple menu levels. For this to work universally, the Filmmaker Mode name and settings will be consistent across multiple TV brands.

How did this all come about?

Paul Thomas Anderson, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Martin Scorsese, and Christopher Nolan reached out to the UHDA about extending the cinematic experience into the living room. The Ultra HD TVs from supporting members are capable of delivering a range of viewing options and the addition of Filmmaker Mode for cinematic content, which is based on input from a broad range of preeminent filmmakers, provides a way for consumers to better experience the filmmaker’s vision.

Current TVs use advanced video processing capabilities to offer consumers a broad range of options in viewing various types of content, ranging from sports to video games. This is hardly ideal when it comes to watching movies or episodic TV. Filmmaker Mode will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker. This will include preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

LG Electronics, Panasonic and VIZIO announced support for Filmmaker Mode. Specific product and implementation plans will be announced by each company at the appropriate time. It’s expected this will happen during CES 2020 in Las Vegas next month.

Modern televisions have extraordinary technical capabilities, and it is important that we harness these new technologies to ensure that the home viewer sees our work presented as closely as possible to our original creative intentions. Through collaboration with TV manufacturers, Filmmaker Mode consolidates input from filmmakers into simple principles for respecting frame rate, aspect ratio, color and contrast and encoding in the actual media so that televisions can read it and can display it appropriately.”

Christopher Nolan

In addition to consolidating feedback from filmmakers, studios and CE manufacturers, the UHDA engaged the broader creative community by polling their members to identify priorities. As part of the specification development process for Filmmaker Mode, the UHDA worked with and solicited input from the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation.

Hasn’t this been tried before?

Well, even before Tom Cruise felt the need for anti-motion blurring, Netflix and Sony partnered up in mid 2018 to come up with a Calibrated Mode. Unfortunately, this was only available in Sony’s A9F OLED and Z9F LED TVs.

What do you think about Filmmaker Mode? Do you think it will catch on? Let us know in the comments section below.

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