Filmmaker Mode

Prior to COVID-19 I’m sure many people can relate to an experience I once had, where I witnessed the worst set of calibration I had ever seen on monitors at a local pub. At the time, I went home, wrote up a blog about how frustrated I was, but didn’t really have a solution. Instead I simply vented about the relentless work we put into managing color and questioned if it was really worth it, considering no one seems to see what we see in the consumers home. However I thought I would revive that story, but now offer up a solution that the UHD Alliance has came up with and it’s actually already rolled out and available!

Therefor I’m going to leave in the majority of the original blog, but provide updates as to not leave this so open ended this time around! 🙂

While working in the TV and film industry I spend a lot of my day making decisions and providing guidance on color science and color flow between different software and departments.  Many people take these conversations and practices very seriously. I have just came home from going out to a local pub for a drink and found it pretty shocking just how different all of the monitors were. The problem is, I suppose I wasn’t THAT shocked. Many people that work in a similar field to me, often joke about this, and have to almost brush it off like it’s out of our control. At this pub some of the screens literally looked bright green, or yellow… 

I have heard many stories from friends in advertising about clients wanting to be 100% sure that their Coca-Cola red is perfectly on point, or the Chase Bank blue is exactly correct when color timing their commercials. In the world I work in of scripted episodic television/feature films, people will spend many hours honing in on actors skin tones making them JUST right. We make color corrections utilizing many layers, windows, sometimes literally tracking a certain color correction to move with an object in the frame. There is a lot of attention to color throughout various stages of production and post and 10’s of thousands of dollars are spent on it!

During production it is common to have someone taking a live video feed from the cameras. This person is color correcting the image to create ‘the look’. Then once the dailies lab receives the video files from set, they often have a ‘Dailies Colorist’ apply the color from set, and spend even more time (more time, also = more money) making sure shots match, take to take and any notes from the Director of Photography on set, are taken into consideration when color grading the footage. Later on down the post production process, a completely new and separate color grading pass happens as well. Therefore all that time and energy spent up front I had just walked you through, people care VERY much about this, even though the work is all going to be re-done later. That’s how much the creatives care about color!

The list goes on and on, for other departments throughout post production that will have a critical eye and time/money spent on making sure color is exactly what it was intended to be.

Many companies are awarded the contract to work on a show or movie simply based on who the colorist is that they are putting on the job!

If that wasn’t enough to drive my point home as to just how much people care about this stuff, here is a real world example. I have had many meetings with various companies getting on the line, to all go over what the technical issue is for the difference I provided as an example below. What you’re seeing below is considered by anyone who is involved in color decisions in any way on set/in post production; not acceptable. If two departments, or pieces of software see the image as differently as they are below, this will get flagged, meetings will be had, tests will be run, e-mails sent, phone calls made. I’ve literally replaced someone on a job once because they couldn’t get this particular issue below solved.

Bonus points for anyone that can tell me what the issue here is 🙂

During the start of any production, conversations are had about;

  • Who is using which kind of monitor?
  • How are you configuring/calibrating it?
  • What color space and gamma will the camera be set to?
  • Will these be different then what people in post production use?
  • How will we ensure color correction values are translated between each department perfectly?
  • This list could actually go on…but I think you get the idea. A lot of talk about what I call; Color Flow.

All of that to say; (full circle as to why I’m here venting!)

It absolutely kills me that once our work actually hits the average consumers home television screen, the color is drastically changed.  This is also not just in a sports bar setting I’m referring to.  That just happens to be a great example where you will see it right in your face, considering there are many monitors side by side.

For many years, I have often grabbed friends or family’s remote controls when they were not looking to fix there televisions settings! It is very common that TV’s will have many things like True Motion, Vivid Color and who knows what other ‘upgrade’ the television manufacturer has provided automatically turned on.

However there is finally a solution in place that I believe is simple enough that anyone can make their television look the way the film makers intended it to look!

Filmmaker Mode

The UHD Alliance, has created a mode that is available in many new consumer grade television sets. This ‘Filmmaker Mode’ allows the setting to override many settings, to again, get you closer to what the film maker intended.

Therefor I should no longer need to turn off your ‘Vibrant Color’, ‘Enhanced Sharpening’ and all of the other settings that make even Game of Thrones look like a soap opera!

The goal any film makers have is simple; Ensure that everyone watching our work see what the filmmakers intended!

To access this option, it is within the Picture Mode setting of any TV that has this feature available.

If you also don’t want to take it from me, or the UHD Alliance themselves, maybe you’ll listen to Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and the many other incredible filmmakers that boast about it in this video!

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