Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson Want Manufacturers to Improve Televisions for Films

It is no secret that several directors including Rian Johnson and Reed Morano hate motion smoothing. They believe it distorts their art. Now, Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson have written to the Directors Guild of America in an attempt to fix this. If you don’t know what motion smoothing is, here’s a brief expiration:

Motion smoothing is a feature on most modern TVs that intended to correct hi-def screens’ tendency to make objects in motion appear to be blurry. In order to do this, the TV processes one frame, then the next, and makes a guess on what a new frame that goes between them should look like. This can be very helpful if you’re watching a football game, for example, and you’re attempting to keep track of the ball in a wide landscape shot. It gives everything a crisp edge.

So, what did Nolan have to say to his fellow directors? He wanted them to fill out a survey and then his plan was to take the survey results to TV manufacturers in an attempt to foster a dialogue. /Film was able to procure the email and parts of the survey.

Dear Fellow Directors:

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. Take the survey here: [Redacted]

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.

Some of the questions were as follows:

How important is it to you to have a simple way to get consumers’ home TV setup similar to monitors in the color-grading suites for viewing film and television content that YOU created?

For the following aspects of film and television playback, what elements of creative intent should be maintained in current home displays?

Motion/frame rate should match the original frame rate (no motion interpolation)

Home displays should maintain what was seen in the grading suite – in terms of color, brightness, black levels, white point, etc.

Dynamic range should be preserved – HDR should look like HDR, standard dynamic range should look like standard dynamic range, dynamic range should not be stretched.

Would you expect this “reference mode” to work for both SDR (standard dynamic range) and HDR (high dynamic range) content or just SDR or just HDR? Please choose one.

Would you expect this “reference mode” to be called the same thing on different manufacturers of TVs?

I would love it if my TV had a mode I could switch to for better picture during films. Also, this probably isn’t a crazy or far-out idea as Netflix already teamed with Sony for the Netflix Calibrated TV. Do you like this idea, or should the DGA stay out?

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