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UHD Alliance Launches New ‘Filmmaker’ Viewing Mode

Aug 27, 2019

The UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, on Aug. 27 announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies and episodic TV called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended.

Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the soon-to-be-released Knives Out, helped introduce Filmmaker Mode at an event in Los Angeles.

“As someone who makes movies, I love this so much,” he said. “I know that it means that every choice that I’ve made in the movies that I make, from the choices on set all the way up through through the color grade, are going to be coming through when somebody watches them at home.”

“I want to applaud everybody with the UHD Alliance,” he added.

“This initiative enjoys broad support from some of Hollywood’s most notable directors along with the filmmaking community,” said UHD Alliance president Mike Fiddler.

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. Filmmaker Mode will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies 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, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates, according to the Alliance.

LG Electronics, Panasonic and VIZIO announced support for Filmmaker Mode. Specific product and implementation plans will be announced by each company at a later date. Panasonic expects to include the mode in 2020 models, said Panasonic’s Ron Martin at the event. Vizio announced its 2020 Smart TV product lineup also will include the new mode.

Vizio’s Carlos Angulo noted that the company’s research showed that 85% of consumers leave the TV in the mode out of the box or rarely change it.

“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,” said director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Interstellar and the Dark Knight Trilogy) in a statement. “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.”

While studios and CE manufacturers have long worked in concert to deliver new entertainment technologies and experiences to consumers, Filmmaker Mode marks the first collaboration to add leaders in the creative community to the mix.

The UHD Alliance informed the project by surveying the creative community. Of the more then 400 members of the creative community surveyed, 96% said maintaining creative intent in the home was important to them, said Annie Chang, VP of creative technology at Universal.

There were three things repeatedly heard from filmmakers, said Warner Bros. VP of technology Michael Zink. They cared about the home viewing experience of their films, they knew modern TVs delivered more advanced quality, and they wanted it to be easy for consumers to access the correct settings for their content.

“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,” added Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther and Creed, 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.”

Johnson noted that he once tried to turn off motion smoothing on a bar TV and even he couldn’t figure it out. “It’s nested very often in deep sub-menus,” he said.

Unlike some picture modes which may require 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. Further, to make finding displays that can display content in Filmmaker Mode, the name and settings will be consistent across multiple TV brands.

“With all the advances in today’s televisions, now is a great time to introduce Filmmaker Mode. It’s just impossible to ignore what the technology can do,” noted director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread) in a statement. “We can use these capabilities to preserve the intent of the filmmaker, preserve the purpose of the art.”

As part of the specification development process for Filmmaker Mode, the UHDA also worked with and solicited input from the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation.

“I started the Film Foundation in 1990 with the goal to preserve film and protect the filmmaker’s original vision so that the audience can experience these films as they were intended to be seen,” noted director Martin Scorsese in a statement. “Most people today are watching these classic films at home rather than in movie theaters, making Filmmaker Mode of particular importance when presenting these films which have specifications unique to being shot on film.”

“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,” added Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins in a statement. “As a filmmaker, I want to see…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.”

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