Movie lovers who subscribe to The best streaming services Like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney Plus may soon get an upgrade to a Filmmaker Mode preset that lets them experience movies on their TV at the same level of quality the filmmaker intended.
The news came at a session LG held last week to give TV reviewers a closer look Look at the new G3 OLED TV. The proceedings included a briefing by Mike Zink of the UHD Alliance, an industry group that includes members from the consumer electronics, technology and Hollywood production communities. While Zink mainly gave an overview of the group’s activities, he also mentioned that a Dolby Vision Filmmaker mode is in the pipeline for TV manufacturers to implement. To understand why this is important, we’ll first need to cover director mode and why purpose It is important.
Filmmaker mode is a standard picture preset found in The best 4K TVs From makers like LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, Hisense, and Vizio, it was developed by the UHD Alliance in response to filmmakers (Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve are among its biggest advocates) who are tired of seeing their films poorly on TVs. Inaccurate colors and unnatural motion handling were major sticking points for these directors, but there were also concerns about maintaining the film’s original aspect ratio and eliminating aggressive image sharpening and noise reduction.
Filmmaker Mode addresses all of these issues, and allows viewers to watch movies the way the filmmakers intended them to be seen with little effort other than choosing a preset picture on the TV. And while Filmmaker mode is usually a good choice for viewing all kinds of programs, it has a major limitation in that it cannot be used to display programs with high dynamic range Dolby Vision.
When watching movies with Dolby Vision, TVs automatically switch to Dolby Vision picture mode. The TCL 6-Series model I recently reviewed, for example, switches to Dolby Vision IQ mode by default, though Dolby Vision Dark and Dolby Vision Normal options are also available. The difference between these two modes is that IQ mode uses sensors in the TV to adjust the brightness of the picture based on the level of ambient light in the viewing environment, while Dark and Normal mode are fixed presets for day and night viewing respectively.
Of these settings, the preset that most closely resembles Filmmaker Mode is Dolby Vision Dark, which uses Warm Color Temperature, a setting that provides a neutral white balance for accurate color reproduction. It also turns off processing modes that add motion interpolation (the source of the dreaded “soap opera effect”) and high levels of both image sharpening and noise reduction.
Dolby Vision Dark, as its name suggests, is, like Filmmaker Mode, for viewing in a dim or darkened room, much like the room a director was sitting in when their movie was being mastered for a home video or streaming release. But not everyone likes to watch in a cave-like environment, which is why the Dolby Vision Normal and IQ presets exist. In both cases – on a TCL 6-Series TV at least – high levels of motion processing are applied, and Dolby Vision Normal switches the color temperature to a less precise mode. The result is a picture that would make Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve shut up, and we wouldn’t even call Tom Cruise’s attention to the situation.
Dolby Vision Filmmaker mode…to the rescue?
We don’t yet know the details of Dolby Vision Filmmaker mode other than what was briefly discussed at the LG TV event. It appears to be approved in late 2022, which is why it won’t appear in any new 2023 kits, although 2024 is possible.
What makes Dolby Vision Filmmaker mode significant is that the current set of TV presets for showing programs with Dolby Vision are all somewhat compromised. Dolby Vision IQ is a good option in that it automatically compensates for ambient room lighting, but it differs from Filmmaker mode in that it adds motion processing to the images. It’s true that you can adjust the settings in Dolby IQ mode to eliminate motion interpolation, but that defeats the purpose of the preset — something that, like Filmmaker mode, viewers can simply choose and expect to see an accurate, director-approved presentation.
What’s at issue here is that preset modes like Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Vision Normal make images brighter, but in doing so, they emphasize image shakiness and noise inherent in images shot at 24 frames per second. Motion interpolation processing can successfully eliminate these artifacts, which is why it is applied in these modes. But kinetic interpolation also makes movies look like daytime soap operas—one of the biggest reasons the Hollywood community has moved towards filmmaker mode.
Ideally, Dolby Vision Filmmaker mode would bring the benefits of Dolby IQ – automatic adjustment of brightness based on the ambient light of the room – and perhaps combine it with variable frame rate motion processing – something along the lines of TrueCut Motion technology used to create Avatar: Water Road. TrueCut Motion is a “motion grading” tool for film post-production that allows frame rates to be adjusted on a variable basis to reduce the visual impact of judder and blur without making motion look unnatural. After I saw him in action when I caught Avatar: Water Road In an IMAX theater (as well as in a follow-up demo at CES 2023), its visual benefits were crystal clear.
I have no idea what Dolby has in mind to put Dolby Vision Filmmaker, as no details about it have been released outside of the tech and industry communities. But if it can somehow strike a balance between accurately presenting the filmmaker’s vision and allowing greater flexibility in home viewing conditions, that would be a very welcome development.