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Christopher Nolan, DGA aim to save movies by changing TVs (and killing motion smoothing)

Contributed by
Sep 12, 2018

If you love genre films, it’s almost a certainty that one of your favorite directors has ranted on social media about one of their biggest pet peeves: motion smoothing. This is a default feature on most new TVs that helps sports and other broadcasts be even more digestible by de-blurring much of the action. That’s great for football (which is what every big-box store is playing on those gigantic display units) but terrible for movies, which get flattened, cheapened, and otherwise wonky when played with the same settings. So Christopher Nolan is going to do something about it.

Nolan is just one of many directors who’ve been vocal about hating this mode on TVs. Edgar Wright, James Gunn, Reed Morano, Dan Trachtenberg, Chris Miller, Rian Johnson, and Christopher McQuarrie have all tweeted about either disliking what the mode does to their films or posted evidence that they’ve changed the settings on TVs that they’ve encountered in the wild.

According to /Film, this has led to more official talks thanks to the Directors Guild of America. Apparently DGA members received an email with an attached survey that spoke of harnessing “new technologies to ensure that the home viewer sees our work presented as closely as possible to our original creative intentions.” Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson have been speaking to TV makers in order to push for better technical standards.

These standards, according to the survey, will be contained in a “reference mode,” which does away with all the motion smoothing and other technological wizardry in favor of original color grading, brightness levels, dynamic range, and frame rate.

There’s no guarantee that these suggestions will be implemented by TV manufacturers, especially the idea of some universal mode across brand names, but the fact that these directors wield enough clout to reach the top is a good sign.

Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all have a Nolan Mode button on our remotes to get our home viewing of The Dark Knight just right.