Filmmaker Mode to Improve Home Movie Experience
Over the years, TV and projector manufacturers have introduced many features to try and improve the quality of a TV picture. Most of you will be aware of resolution improvements (HD, Ultra HD/4K) and dynamic range improvements (HDR, Dolby Vision, etc); however there are also many other software enhancements that can have a benefit for content that was originally shot on video.
However, when viewing a movie on TV, some of these ‘enhancements’ can actually have a detrimental effect on the picture making it look very different from what the Director originally intended.
The Evil of Motion Smoothing!
Perhaps the biggest offender is ‘motion smoothing’. Motion smoothing can make sense for sports, where the action can move quickly and get blurry on your TV set. Most films, however, are traditionally shot at 24 frames-per-second and motion blur naturally occurs. UK TVs generally operate at 25 frames-per-second with frame rate multiplying taking this to 50, 100 fps or beyond. Artificially increasing the frame rate and removing motion blur removes the filmic, dreamlike essence from films, giving them a hyperreal quality—this is often referred to as “the soap opera effect”. Motion smoothing can also result in digital artefacts and a degraded image, as your TV is trying to add artificial information to the content.
Many TVs have these enhancements turned on by default, and even Tom Cruise has been complaining about it (bless him).
What is Filmmaker Mode?
Most TVs will allow you to turn off (or reduce) motion smoothing and other artificial picture enhancements; but the options are often buried deep within a TV’s settings making them a pain to turn off for a movie and then enable again for sports or other general TV content.
In short, Filmmaker Mode is going to be a really easy way for you to make sure that your TV will display the content you’re watching the way the filmmakers wanted you to see it. Some of the key things that are affected by Filmmaker Mode will be colour, contrast, aspect ratio, sharpening, noise reduction and frame rate.
No word yet on when Filmmaker Mode will launch but presumably it’ll only be on new TVs launching in 2020 or later. The hope is that the remote controls for these TVs will have a simple ‘Filmmaker Mode’ button that will allow all the enhancements to be toggled off and on at the press of a single button. At Cyberhomes our intention would then be to implement the easy access to this feature within the user interface of your Control4 or Savant Pro applications.
Film Industry Support
Leading directors including Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins and Rian Johnson have teamed up with the UHD Alliance (UHDA)—a coalition whose members include Hollywood studios and consumer electronics manufacturers—to introduce the new UHD TV setting aimed at preserving the filmmakers’ creative intent on consumer displays. A “Netflix Mode,” similarly developed to maintain creative intent on the streamer’s series, was introduced in 2018 on select TV models, including several from Sony and Panasonic. Netflix, however, is not a member of the UHDA and was not involved in the Filmmaker Mode announcement.
Find out more about Filmmaker Mode at www.filmmakermode.org.
Soap Opera Effect (motion interpolation)
Soap opera effect is a visual effect caused by motion interpolation, a process that high definition televisions use to display content at a higher refresh rate than the original source.
The goal of motion interpolation is to give the viewer a more life-like picture. Some viewers, however, think the picture is too lifelike and that motion interpolation makes films on TV look as if they were raw video feeds. (Soap operas have traditionally been recorded on video, not film.)
Here is how motion interpolation works:
If a television screen has a refresh rate of 120 Hz (120 frames per second) but the television is going to display film that was recorded at the standard 24 frames per second, the TV manufacturer must figure out a way to fill in an extra 94 frames each second.
One way to do this is to have the television repeat each film frame five times (5 x 24 = 120). Another way is to have the software in the television digitally analyse concurrent picture frames and use the data to create intermediary frames. The insertion of these frames is called interpolation and they are what cause the soap opera effect.
Many TVs allow viewers to turn off interpolation and force the television to repeat the same frame five times or use a more traditional 3:2 pulldown. This creates a more cinematic effect.
The commercial name given to motion interpolation depends on the vendor. Sony calls it MotionFlow, LG calls it TruMotion, Toshiba calls it ClearFrame, Mitsubishi calls it Smooth120Hz and JVC calls it Clear Motion Drive. Some vendors also refer to it as anti-judder.