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Filmmaker Mode could make TV settings easier on LG, Samsung and Vizio

Supported by directors like J.J. Abrams and Christopher Nolan, it's designed to automatically adjust your picture when watching movies.

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UHD Alliance
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Modern TVs have at least one mode that's designed to extract the best picture quality from the screen, but finding it isn't always easy. They're all called different things -- Movie, Cinema, Custom, ISF Expert -- and to find them you'll have to delve into the menus and know what you're looking for. The UHD Alliance, a group of TV manufacturers, Hollywood studios and tech companies, wants to make it easier for people to watch TV shows and movies the way their creators intended. 

Filmmaker Mode mode works by "disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) and preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates," the Alliance said in a statement. It wants the name and settings to be consistent across multiple TV brands, and there are a few on board now. 

While Filmmaker Mode was announced last year, manufacturers Philips and Samsung have announced support for the format at CES 2020. They join LG, Panasonic and Vizio. The initiative has the support of directors such as J.J. Abrams (Star Wars IX), James Cameron (Avatar), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk) and Martin Scorsese (The Irishman).

Filmmaker Mode can be enabled in one of two ways: either automatically or with a dedicated button on the remote. To work automatically, the content itself needs metadata that tells the TV to turn on the mode, and for that to happen service providers like Netflix and Apple iTunes need to be on board. CNET talked to a couple of TV makers, including Vizio and LG, and it's unclear when that metadata will be added to streams.

As with any good "format war" there are two other competing modes also on display at CES 2020: the newly announced Dolby Vision IQ and Imax Enhanced. Dolby Vision IQ also uses metadata tags but goes one step further by adding an ambient light sensor to adjust the picture to account for the amount of light in the room. IQ is specific to Dolby Vision content and the UHD Alliance says its mode will also work with Dolby Vision.