Now it’s getting serious. Every now and then filmmakers will chime on Twitter regarding a common enemy – motion smoothing on modern flat screen TVs.
Dubbed the ‘soap opera effect,’ motion smoothing is known by various names depending on your TV’s manufacturer (TruMotion, MotionFlow, Motion Interpolation, ClearScan, Auto Motion Plus, AquoMotion, De-Judder & De-Blur).
A product of modern HD televisions mainly for use in live sport, the effect is often switched on by default and famously makes TV and film look like it was shot on video and anything but cinematic.
The setting can most commonly be seen on screens you see in electronics stores where it is often turned on by default, on cheaper TVs where it sometimes can’t be turned off, and on TVs in less tech-savvy homes. This is why A/V experts recommend that when you buy a new TV, make sure to go into visual settings and turn every picture enhancement to ‘off’ if you can.
Now filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson are going beyond just complaining on social media and have reached out to television manufacturers via the UHD Alliance studio to ensure that audiences at home are able to see films presented as closely as possible to the director’s original intention. Slashfilm reports that Directors Guild of America members received the following e-mail last week:
“Many of you have seen your work appear on television screens looking different from the way you actually finished 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.
To this end, Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson reached out, via the studio UHD Alliance, to television manufacturers. By starting a dialogue with the manufacturers themselves we hope to try and give directors a voice in how the technical standards of our work can be maintained in the home.
The short survey in this email is a first step towards both demonstrating to manufacturers just how much we care about the presentation of our work, and offering some indications of the most common causes for concern. Thanks for taking the time to complete it and return it to us, we feel there is a real possibility here to try and improve the situation.
The Committee’s goal is reportedly to send the results of the study to manufacturers and implement a ‘reference mode’ that more accurately reflects filmmakers’ intentions for the presentation of their work on the small screen – trying to match home TVs as close as possible to the results of a professional color-grading suite.
This follows on from initiatives by Netflix & IMAX teaming up with manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic to create calibrated modes for TVs that do the same sort of thing, but so far the two big juggernauts in the home TV market – LG and Samsung – haven’t yet commented on those or this.