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Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson Launch New TV Setting to Fight Motion Smoothing

The new "filmmaker mode" setting is also being championed by Martin Scorsese, Patty Jenkins, Ryan Coogler, and more.

Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan

Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan

Rob Latour/Shutterstock

In partnership with the UHD Alliance and other leaders in consumer electronics, several of the biggest directors working today have come together to launch a new television setting that will help fight against the rise of motion smoothing. Filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Patty Jenkins, Ryan Coogler, Martin Scorsese, and Rian Johnson teamed up to help kickstart “Filmmaker Mode,” a new setting that will preserve the cinematic representation of images as the filmmakers intended when it comes to color, contrast, aspect ratio, and frame rates.

“The thing that sets Filmmaker Mode apart is it will be a pure, clean expression of what the movie was meant to look like when it was made,” Johnson said in a statement.

Nolan added, “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.”

Motion smoothing has been a huge annoyance for many filmmakers over the last couple years. The setting is used to correct high-definition screens’ tendency to make objects in motion appear blurry and is often referred to as the “soap opera effect” because of the way it crisps the outlines of actors and makes the backgrounds appear fake or set-like. “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn launched a campaign on Twitter in October 2017 to convince television manufacturers to get rid of the controversial setting. Director Reed Morano has also fought her own battle against motion smoothing, launching a petition five years ago against the setting.

News broke in September 2018 that Anderson, Nolan, and others were working with the UHD Alliance to come up with a solution to motion smoothing. A letter sent to members of the Directors Guild of America notified them that these major directors had started “a dialogue with the manufacturers to try and give directors a voice in how the technical standards of our work can be maintained in the home.” It appears “Filmmaker Mode” is the first step forward in this fight.

“I care deeply about how cinema is experienced at home because that’s where it lives the longest. That’s where cinema is watched and re-watched and experienced by families,” Coogler said in a statement. “By allowing the artists in the tent to help consult and give feedback to the electronics companies on Filmmaker Mode, we can collectively help make the consumer’s experience even more like it is in the cinema.”

Anderson said that “Filmmaker Mode” will help “preserve the purpose of art” on television, while Scorsese championed the new setting because it will be especially helpful in presenting older movies on television in the formats they were originally released.

“Every day on set, we make hundreds of decisions about how to present and tell our story. No one decision makes or breaks a film, but there’s a cumulative effect that results in a film that looks and feels the way we envisioned it,” Jenkins concluded. “As a filmmaker, I want to see, and I and think viewers want to see, that vision carried through to every possible viewing environment. Filmmaker Mode makes it possible for all those choices to be seen in the home.”

VIZIO has already announced plans to include the “Filmmaker Mode” television setting starting with its 2020 smart TV collection.

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