Filmmakers Can Tweak Your TV Settings in More Ways Than Ever

Filmmakers Can Tweak Your TV Settings in More Ways Than Ever

Modern televisions are crammed full of features meant to enhance the picture. They brighten the image, hyper-saturate the colors, and smooth out the hectic onscreen action. It’s all meant to make the visuals pop when you first take the set out of the box, which is why television manufacturers often enable these settings by default. Everything may look great when you’re watching giant robots rip each other apart in a Michael Bay film, but when it’s time to settle in for a moody drama or sweeping epic, those high-octane effects can strain the eyeballs.

“Some TVs are just so overprocessed, and they’re over-brightened, and their colors are oversaturated,” says Jim Willcox, a senior electronics editor who tests TVs for Consumer Reports. “It’s fatiguing watching a TV like that. And it’s also not giving you a picture that’s really natural-looking.”

Those harsh colors and unnatural lighting effects can be toned down of course, but the settings options in modern televisions tend to be obtuse, and most viewers never take the time to navigate their set’s labyrinthian menus and dial in the proper picture.

In an effort to salvage the cinematic qualities inside the latest televisions, technical standards engineers and artists inside the film industry have developed a feature called Filmmaker Mode. It is embedded in certain models of TVs from manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Vizio, Panasonic, and Philips. The setting is meant to make movies look—as the name implies—like the filmmaker intended. No ultra-vibrant saturation, uncannily smooth frame rates, or other image-processing tricks. Just a picture that looks as close as possible to what you’d see in a movie theater, right there on your home screen.

The setting is not available on all new televisions yet, but it is gaining traction with manufacturers. Furthermore, the latest TVs can use ambient light sensors to fine-tune Filmmaker Mode’s output to make it look even better. These advancements, coupled with growing support from several major streaming platforms—which can automatically switch your television to Filmmaker Mode—have allowed the technology to proliferate.

I Feel Scene

Michael Zink is the vice president of technology at Warner Bros. He is also the president of the UHD Alliance, an industry group focused on setting standards for what constitutes HD video. For the soft-spoken executive, Filmmaker Mode has become something of a passion project.

“It really started with some of the filmmakers coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, we really have an issue with a lot of the things these TVs do,’” Zink says.

Consider motion smoothing, the cardinal sin of consumer TVs. Motion smoothing artificially boosts a TV’s frame rate to make the image, well, smoother. Most films are shot at 24 frames per second, but modern TVs can display as many as 120 frames per second; the motion-smoothing feature fills in the “missing” frames so the frames-per-second rate of the video matches what the television can display. That often gives the onscreen images an uncanny butteriness that has come to be known as the “soap opera effect.” The feature can be useful for some viewers, but most people hate it. There have been petitions for companies to ditch the feature, and celebrities like Tom Cruise have pleaded with users to turn it off. Unfortunately, the solution is nearly as complicated as the problem. Every TV manufacturer sticks motion smoothing in different places and calls it something unique, so the call to action of those PSAs essentially became “Google how to navigate your TV brand’s settings menus.” People needed a simpler option.


via Wired

November 22, 2022 at 04:14AM

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