UHD Alliance Introduces ‘Filmmaker Mode’

The UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, Aug. 27 announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies and episodic TV called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. (L-R): Panasonic’s Ron Martin, Vizio’s Kenneth Lowe, Warner’s Michael Zink and director Rian Johnson were on hand to announce the launch. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon for UHD Alliance)

Sharp to Showcase 120-Inch 8K, 5G Televison

South Korean consumer electronics manufacturer Sharp has been carrying the 8K resolution TV banner since 2011.

So, it’s little surprise the company plans to showcase a 120-inch 8K TV screen with 5G network compatibility at the upcoming IFA confab in Berlin.

8K resolution claims to offer 16 times the pixels of HD and four times the pixels of 4K.

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“Since our launch of the world’s first-ever 8K display, Sharp has continued to develop 8K products in the [business to consumer] realm, but thanks to advances in communication and imaging technology, we are now also able to offer fresh value in the field of [business-to-business],” Kazuhiro Kitamura, business unit president, global TV systems and head of Europe business, said in a statement.

Kitamura said Sharp is partnering with other companies to run verification tests in various fields to perfect the 8K, 5G TV.

“By working in tandem with other firms’ technology, rather than promoting our own 8K offerings in isolation, we are able to foster breakthroughs and nurture 8K+5G Ecosystem across an ever-wider range of disciplines,” he said. “The more partners we can bring on board with groundbreaking technological advances of their own, the more we can achieve together to enrich society and people’s lives.”

Big plans considering the 8K TV market remains a curiosity among consumers.

According to Statista, 8K TV will have about 3% of the UHD TV market by 2023. 8K unit sales are projected to reach 11 million annually, up from 400,000 units this year.

UHD Alliance Launches New ‘Filmmaker’ Viewing Mode

The UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, on Aug. 27 announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies and episodic TV called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended.

Rian Johnson, director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the soon-to-be-released Knives Out, helped introduce Filmmaker Mode at an event in Los Angeles.

“As someone who makes movies, I love this so much,” he said. “I know that it means that every choice that I’ve made in the movies that I make, from the choices on set all the way up through through the color grade, are going to be coming through when somebody watches them at home.”

“I want to applaud everybody with the UHD Alliance,” he added.

“This initiative enjoys broad support from some of Hollywood’s most notable directors along with the filmmaking community,” said UHD Alliance president Mike Fiddler.

Current TVs use advanced video processing capabilities to offer consumers a broad range of options in viewing various types of content, ranging from sports to video games. Filmmaker Mode will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates, according to the Alliance.

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LG Electronics, Panasonic and VIZIO announced support for Filmmaker Mode. Specific product and implementation plans will be announced by each company at a later date. Panasonic expects to include the mode in 2020 models, said Panasonic’s Ron Martin at the event. Vizio announced its 2020 Smart TV product lineup also will include the new mode.

Vizio’s Carlos Angulo noted that the company’s research showed that 85% of consumers leave the TV in the mode out of the box or rarely change 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,” said director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Interstellar and the Dark Knight Trilogy) in a statement. “Through collaboration with TV manufacturers, Filmmaker Mode consolidates input from filmmakers into simple principles for respecting frame rate, aspect ratio, color and contrast and encoding in the actual media so that televisions can read it and can display it appropriately.”

While studios and CE manufacturers have long worked in concert to deliver new entertainment technologies and experiences to consumers, Filmmaker Mode marks the first collaboration to add leaders in the creative community to the mix.

The UHD Alliance informed the project by surveying the creative community. Of the more then 400 members of the creative community surveyed, 96% said maintaining creative intent in the home was important to them, said Annie Chang, VP of creative technology at Universal.

There were three things repeatedly heard from filmmakers, said Warner Bros. VP of technology Michael Zink. They cared about the home viewing experience of their films, they knew modern TVs delivered more advanced quality, and they wanted it to be easy for consumers to access the correct settings for their content.

“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,” added Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther and Creed, in a statement. “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.”

Johnson noted that he once tried to turn off motion smoothing on a bar TV and even he couldn’t figure it out. “It’s nested very often in deep sub-menus,” he said.

Unlike some picture modes which may require the user to enter one or more menus to find and select, Filmmaker Mode will be activated either automatically, through metadata embedded in the content, or through a single button which enables the consumer to activate Filmmaker Mode without moving through multiple menu levels. Further, to make finding displays that can display content in Filmmaker Mode, the name and settings will be consistent across multiple TV brands.

“With all the advances in today’s televisions, now is a great time to introduce Filmmaker Mode. It’s just impossible to ignore what the technology can do,” noted director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread) in a statement. “We can use these capabilities to preserve the intent of the filmmaker, preserve the purpose of the art.”

As part of the specification development process for Filmmaker Mode, the UHDA also worked with and solicited input from the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation.

“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,” noted director Martin Scorsese in a statement. “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.”

“Every day on set, we make hundreds of decisions about how to present and tell our story. No one decision makes or breaks a film, but there’s a cumulative effect that results in a film that looks and feels the way we envisioned it,” added Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins in a statement. “As a filmmaker, I want to see…and think viewers want to see…that vision carried through to every possible viewing environment. Filmmaker Mode makes it possible for all those choices to be seen in the home.”

Research: Number of Global UHD TV Homes Passes 200 Million

The number of homes worldwide using an Ultra HD TV has now passed the 200 million mark, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics’ Connected Home Devices service.

The report, 4K and 8K Ultra HDTV Global Market Forecast, predicts that 222 million homes will own an Ultra HD TV by the end of 2018, an increase of nearly 50% over the past twelve months. The report also forecasts that more than 600 million homes will own an Ultra HD TV by 2023. The vast majority of these homes will have a 4K display — only 3% of Ultra HD TVs in use will be 8K-ready by this time.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • North America will continue to lead in adoption of Ultra HD TVs, with 71% of homes owning one by 2023;
  • The largest market in terms of annual sales of Ultra HD TVs is the Asia Pacific region, where they will reach nearly 46 million units this year;
  • Sales of 8K Ultra HDTVs will reach more than 400,000 units in 2019 and more than 11 million by 2023, which will represent a 6% share of the total Ultra HD TV market; and
  • By 2023 3.9% of Ultra HDTV homes in North America will own 8K displays, compared to 4.1% in Asia Pacific and 1.7% in Western Europe.

“The success of Ultra HDTV has been driven by technology adoption rather than content and services,” said David Mercer, principal analyst and the report’s author, in a statement. “4K video and TV services are now becoming more widely available, meeting the expectations of 4K Ultra HDTV owners for the best quality TV experience. But our expectations for 8K services should be cautious: while Japan has now launched 8K TV in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the rest of the world will be slower to follow suit, given that the number of homes with 8K-ready TVs will remain low until the mid 2020s.”

“Owners of 8K TVs will primarily be watching 4K and HD content, while the TV’s image processors will do a good job of scaling most content to give impressive images,” said David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, in a statement. “Amidst the excitement surrounding 8K TVs, it is important to remember that image resolution, whether native or otherwise, is only one element in perceived video quality, and TV vendors and content players alike should not lose focus on other important drivers of consumer satisfaction, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) and High Frame Rate (HFR).”

Best Buy Extends Holiday Deals With ’20 Days of Doorbusters’

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Best Buy has unveiled yet another promotion for the holidays starting Dec. 1: “20 Days of Doorbusters.”

Consumers can sign up to receive text alerts for each day’s “doorbuster,” which they can select on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy will offer doorbuster deals for big screen smart 4K TVs on Dec. 4, Dec. 12 and Dec. 18, and for a game console on Dec. 8. The website doesn’t specify brands.

Futuresource: Global 4K UHD TV Shipments to Surpass 100 Million Units in 2018

Pushed by average retail prices reaching parity with HDTV sets, annual global shipments of 4K UHD TVs are expected to surpass 100 million units in 2018, according to the latest market tracking report from Futuresource Consulting.

“The market will continue to grow with double-digit CAGR throughout our forecasting period to 2022,” said Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource, in a statement. “What’s more, high dynamic range — HDR — is beginning to make its presence felt and will be included in over half of all 4K UHD TVs sold worldwide in 2018, though consumer understanding remains limited.”

The Asia Pacific region leads the way in volume, helped along by China, the largest single market for 4K UHD. North America has also seen strong uptake of 4K UHD, with rapidly declining prices and a general preference for larger screens, according to Futuresource. In Europe, the firm projects shipments will grow by 30% this year.

Global shipments of UHD Blu-ray players are expected to almost double the installed base of standalone players this year, according to Futuresource, while UHD compatible media streamer shipments will rise more than 85% year-over-year, accounting for nearly half of all media streamer shipments. Game consoles are significantly increasing the installed base of UHD Blu-ray capable homes, bolstered by consumers updating consoles and taking advantage of upgrades available for both the PlayStation and Xbox, according to Futuresource.

“When it comes to the content, SVoD remains the primary gateway for consumers to get their UHD fix,” said Veale in a statement. “Netflix is the key service driving UHD SVoD spend. Depending on the country, around 20 percent to 30 percent of subscribers have opted for the UHD premium tier.”

Physical media is growing as well, according to the firm.

“UHD Blu-ray content continues to progress ahead of the expectations of many, with global consumer spend on track to reach $360 million this year,” said Veale in a statement. “UHD Blu-ray has held onto its price premium and, as a result, consumer spend continues to outperform digital sellthrough of UHD, despite the volumes being almost identical.”

Broadcast of the format is also making strides.

“Broadcast UHD has also received a welcome boost in 2018, with February’s Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup accelerating many broadcasters’ plans to introduce 4K UHD coverage, making high quality streams available,” Veale said in a statement. “However, for wider uptake, a reduction in the cost to deliver UHD and HD broadcasts simultaneously is needed. IP delivery is expected to be key to this, at least in the short to medium term.”

Best Buy Ups Q3 Same-Store Entertainment Sales

Best Buy is looking good heading into Black Friday (Nov. 22).

The CE retailer Nov. 20 reported 12.4% increase in third-quarter (ended Nov. 3) same-store entertainment sales, compared to 4.1% increase in the previous-year period.

The entertainment segment, which includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, generated 6% ($525.3 million) of Best Buy’s domestic revenue in the quarter compared to 6% ($509.5 million) last year.

Internationally, entertainment same-store sales increased 10.8%, generating $58.4 million (7%) of revenue. That compared to 7.8% increase and revenue of $49.7 million (6%) last year.

Best Buy’s legacy CE unit saw 3.7% increase in domestic same-store sales, up from 3.5% increase last year. Revenue remained relatively flat at $2.71 billion compared to $2.63 billion last year.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer remains upbeat heading into Black Friday and the winter retail season.

“The holiday season is here, and our team has put together a best-in-class assortment, prepared an amazing set of deals, and ensured we have great inventory availability across all the product categories we carry,” CEO Hubert Joly said in a statement. “In addition, we have continued to enhance our digital shopping experience and further improved our shipping speed, allowing us to delight customers with fast and free delivery.”

 

BluFocus First North American Authorized Test Center for HDR10+

BluFocus, a division of Blu., has been approved as the first North American Authorized Test Center (ATC) for HDR10+ technology.

HDR10+ advances the current industry standard of High Dynamic Range (HDR), HDR10, by including dynamic metadata for every scene and frame, enabling more accurate true-to-life pictures.

BluFocus ensures the compliance of products submitted for HDR10+ licensing with testing resources that include certification for display performance, metadata processing and display management.

“It’s always gratifying when BluFocus is selected by the media industry to help a new technology standard like HDR10+ reach its full potential,” said Paulette Pantoja, CEO of Blu. “Being approved as an HDR10+ Authorized Test Center is a logical extension to our ATC’s expertise in display technology certifications.”

HDR10+ Technologies, a joint venture among 20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics, established the licensing and logo certification program for HDR10+ technology.

“A technological step forward for next generation displays, HDR10+ improves the viewing experience for audiences on a wide range of TVs and displays,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab. “In order to uphold this, ATCs, like BluFocus, are critical to ensuring that HDR10+ compliant products meet the highest quality standards.”

For more about the HDR10+ logo, license and certification program visit https://www.hdr10plus.org/.

For more information about Blu., visit http://www.BLU.team.

‘Dark Knight’ Tops FandangoNow 4K Survey

The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan,topped a FandangoNow survey of more than 1,500 film fans with 4K Ultra HD TVs asking which streaming movies they say require 4K viewings.

Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Dunkirk, also directed by Nolan, were the next in line that fans said were a must see in the highest resolution possible, according to the FandangoNow survey.

According to the FandangoNow survey, more than 60% of respondents indicated they are more likely to watch a movie at home if it is available in 4K Ultra HD.

“Our 4K survey reveals that fans are still excited about experiencing The Dark Knight at home in the highest resolution and with the best sound available 10 years after the film’s release,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis in a statement. “Watching a movie in 4K just enhances the entire viewing experience exponentially, and it’s no wonder that audiences are navigating toward the films of Christopher Nolan, because he is one of the top filmmakers to fully embrace the technology in every way.”

Filmmaker Nolan, who directed five of the movies (in addition to The Dark Knight and Dunkirk, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar and Inception) among the top 44 FandangoNow 4K titles, will be honored at the 4K Ultra HD Summit with the DEG Vanguard Award Nov. 6.

The full list of Top 44 4K films in the FandangoNow survey is:

  1. The Dark Knight
  2. Avengers: Infinity War
  3. Thor: Ragnarok
  4. Dunkirk
  5. The Avengers
  6. The Dark Knight Rises
  7. Black Panther
  8. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  10. Interstellar
  11. Mad Max: Fury Road
  12. Inception
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  15. Saving Private Ryan
  16. Wonder Woman
  17. Jurassic World
  18. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  19. Deadpool 2
  20. Incredibles 2
  21. The Matrix
  22. Spider-Man: Homecomng
  23. The Martian
  24. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  25. Ready Player One
  26. Blade Runner 2049
  27. Life of Pi
  28. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  29. Deadpool
  30. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
  31. Logan
  32. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  33. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  34. John Wick
  35. It
  36. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  37. Baby Driver
  38. The Incredibles
  39. The Fate of the Furious
  40. A Quiet Place
  41. The Fifth Element
  42. Arrival
  43. Atomic Blonde
  44. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.