Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan Among Directors Launching "Filmmaker Mode" TV Setting

The setting will be introduced on consumer UHD TVs.
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From left: Martin Scorsese, Ryan Coogler, Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson

Leading directors including Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins and Rian Johnson have teamed up with the UHD Alliance — a coalition whose members include Hollywood studios and consumer electronics manufacturers — to introduce a new UHD TV setting aimed at preserving the filmmakers' creative intent on consumer displays.

There has been a growing concern in the production community that with the many settings available on consumer TVs, the filmmaker’s creative decisions that are made during production and postproduction are not always what is displayed. This new "Filmmaker Mode" for supported TV models is aimed at giving viewers a consistent, cinematic representation of images as the filmmakers intended, in terms of color, contrast, aspect ratio and frame rates.

As part of the specification development process, the UHDA sought input from more than 400 filmmakers, including 140 directors and cinematographers. The Alliance also reached out to the Directors Guild of America, American Society of Cinematographers, American Cinema Editors and Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation.

Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the upcoming Knives Outwas on hand for the announcement and explained Filmmaker Mode with an analogy for sci-fi fans: “Your Skynet is motion smoothing. … Luckily our John Connor has arrived.”

Johnson noted that home theater technology is currently in a "Golden Age," but warned that “many TVs ship with motion smoothing (and other post-processing settings) as a default."

He highlighted that Filmmaker Mode offers “a single button that lines up the settings so it works for the benefit of the movie and not against it.” He got a laugh as he added, “If you love movies, Filmmaker Mode will make your movies not look like poo-poo.”

Johnson introduced a video explaining and urging viewers to use Filmmaker Mode, featuring testimonials from Scorsese, Nolan, Coogler, Jenkins, Paul Thomas Anderson, James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Ava DuVernay, Judd Apatow, Ang Lee, Reed Morano and the Duffer Brothers, as well as himself.

LG, Panasonic and Vizio announced a commitment to implement Filmmaker Mode in future TVs, though they didn't say when it would be available.

On the origin of the initiative, UHDA chair Michael Zink, vp technology at Warner Bros., said, "Paul Thomas Anderson, Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan reached out to the UHDA about extending the cinematic experience into the living room. We were eager and ideally situated to engage in the conversation."

A “Netflix Mode,” similarly developed to maintain creative intent on the streamer's series, was introduced in 2018 on select TV models, including several from Sony and Panasonic. Netflix, however, is not a member of the UHDA and was not involved in Tuesday’s announcement.

Numerous directors released statements as part of the announcement. Among them, Scorsese said, “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. 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.”

Said Coogler, “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. 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.”