The UHD Alliance, a band of TV manufacturers that includes LG, Vizio, and Panasonic – not, sadly, a band of superheroes – has announced plans for a new Filmmaker Mode to ensure that movies and TV shows display as intended on today’s smart TVs.
Recreating works of cinema accurately can be difficult, even for high-end TVs, given the variance in panel technologies, processing techniques, and lighting arrays. No two TV models can really show exactly the same image, and the default settings on many 4K TVs will often change or distort the picture that a film’s director or colorist will have seen in the production studio.
How can this state of affairs be improved? Filmmaker Mode will attempt to correct some of the more drastic picture setting alterations, preventing excessively high contrast settings, and removing motion smoothing – which is a processing technology designed to ‘smooth out’ fast-moving scenes, like action sequences or car chases.
That might mean you see more sudden jumps in frame rate, but the mode is likely to come to TVs that are able to handle a lot of motion well anyway. You can see such industry greats as Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan (Inception, Interstellar) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) explaining the purpose of the technology in the video release below.
The issue of creator intent is one that’s become more prominent in the last year or so, with the TV streaming service Netflix developing a Netflix Calibrated Mode for certain Panasonic TVs and Sony TVs.
Netflix’s mode has had a mixed response – in our review of the Sony Bravia AF9 OLED, we said that “One of the more contentious options introduced in the Master Series range is a Netflix Calibrated mode that supposedly emulates the image seen on Netflix mastering monitors. It’s a Cinema preset by any other name, and not a particularly engaging one either. It will overwrite a Dolby Vision presentation, and tends to look a tad… lifeless.”
If Filmmaker Mode can actually deliver on the intention here, then it may well be a smart addition to today’s picture settings – and seeing it backed by the likes of J J Abrams, Rian Johnson, and M Night Shyamalan is certainly noteworthy. However, for those who like sharper contrast or smoothed-out frames more than they do the idea of creator intent, it may also end up feeling a little unnecessary.