Filmmaker Mode Rian Johnson slice

Motion smoothing is a disease, but we may have just found the cure.

Last September, filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson met with members of The UHD Alliance, an organization comprised in part by major film studios and consumer electronics manufacturers, to seek a way for consumers to be able to watch movies on home television sets without the scourge of motion smoothing and other awful settings ruining the picture quality.

After nearly a year of work, a solution has been reached: Filmmaker Mode, a new TV viewing mode which will disable all post-processing settings so the movie or show is displayed as the filmmaker intended. This has the support of directors like James Cameron, Rian Johnson, Ava DuVernay, M. Night Shyamalan, Reed Morano, and many more. Learn all about Filmmaker Mode below.

I attended a panel presentation this afternoon where leaders of the UHD Alliance unveiled the new mode, which disables motion smoothing and preserves the intended aspect ratio, colors, and frame rates. The mode will be easily accessible two primary ways: by pressing a single button on the remote, or if the proper metadata is in the bitstream, the TVs may automatically switch the display without you even needing to press anything at all.

Check out this launch video featuring testimonials from some of the biggest filmmakers in Hollywood:

For the technical specification nerds among you, this mode will apply to both SDR and HDR content, feature a White Point of D65, will maintain source content frame rate and aspect ratio, and turn off motion interpolation, sharpening, TV noise reduction, and other image “enhancement” processing.

Rian Johnson attended the unveiling presentation today, and after expressing admiration at how far home entertainment technology has come over the past few decades, he turned his attention to the scourge of filmmakers everywhere: motion smoothing.

“As any sci-fi fan worth their salt will tell you, you cannot stroll through the Eden of a technologically advanced golden age without keeping your eyes peeled for the seeds of the coming dystopian wilderness. If you’re a movie lover, your Skynet is motion smoothing.”

For those who may not know, motion smoothing (or motion interpolation) is a feature on most modern televisions that essentially adds information to connect the gaps between framesĀ of footage. It looks great for things like sports, where your eye is often tracking a quick-moving ball or puck. But when applied to films, which are shot in 24 frames per second, motion smoothing results in a cheap, tacky image that looks like an old soap opera.

Unfortunately, most TVs have motion smoothing turned on as its default setting, and some viewers may not be aware that they’re watching content in a sub-optimal way. The setting is frequently buried deep within several layers of menu options, making it difficult to locate even if you do know to turn it off, and what makes matters worse is that many major TV brands don’t call it “motion smoothing,” but instead have their own proprietary name for their brand’s version of that feature.

That’s why it’s a huge deal that LG, Panasonic, and Vizio (a trio of manufacturers that have a significant percentage of the market share) are the launch partners for Filmmaker Mode, and will be including it on their models in the future. Vizio announced today that Filmmaker Mode will be featured on its Smart TV 2020 lineup of products, and as of now, the other brands haven’t provided details about exactly when we’ll see this and on which specific models. When asked if Filmmaker Mode will be available on current models of internet-connected TVs through a software update, a Vizio representative said that was being researched, but no decisions about possible implementation have been made yet.

Johnson, who’s been fighting the battle against motion smoothing for years alongside directors like Reed Morano, said he wanted to applaud everyone who worked hard to make this happen, and he wanted to “get down on my knees and offer burnt sacrifices of thanks to the TV manufacturers who are in on this, and I hope others will follow their lead and show the world that they love movies.”

During a panel presentation, Panasonic’s Ron Miller put it like this:

“I think in the video that we saw with so many directors talking about the work, the intent, the process that they put into filmmaking, it’s only appropriate that the technology on the other end where it’s viewed by so many people engage in that same intent and bring that vision forward for the enjoyment of the viewer.”

I almost can’t believe I’m typing this, but I think the long war against motion smoothing may have finally been won. You can learn more about Filmmaker Mode at its official website.

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