Hollywood’s campaign against motion smoothing on TVs is gaining momentum and Netflix is now joining the movement with a full set of recommendations for optimal TV picture settings. The company says that these are the “best practices for watching Roma”.
Netflix joins the movement
Earlier this month, Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie released a video to explain why you should deactivate motion smoothing on your TV. It was only the latest message in a campaign from Hollywood filmmakers to make TVs respect the creator’s intent.
Netflix has already developed a ‘Netflix Calibrated Mode’ for Sony high-end TVs and has now taken further action by recommending optimal picture settings for watching its latest movie Roma by Alfonso Cuarón. Of course, the company is just framing it like this to hype Roma - the recommendations apply to all movies.
First, the company recommends three “basic adjustments”. In the company’s own words:
Turn off Motion Smoothing or Interpolation A lot of commercial televisions come with an image interpolation option turned on by default. The name for this setting can vary depending on the manufacturer. For the best viewing experience, turn off any setting such as TruMotion, Action Smoothing, Motion Interpolation, or similar names. When in doubt, research your manufacturer's motion smoothing terminology.
Set your color temperature to "normal" "Warm" color temperature can make the film appear tinted sepia or yellow. When set to "cool" the film can appear overly blue. Set the color temperature to "normal" to avoid this.
HDR enabled The film is available in Dolby Vision and has been color graded specifically to make the best use of this new technology. For viewing Roma in HDR, you must have an HDR capable television and a 4 screen Netflix plan. If you meet these criteria, make sure to enable HDR viewing on your TV.
It should be noted that we do not agree with settings the color temparature to "normal" as it is often way above the reference - but it will depend on the TV. As you can see, the company is also using the opportunity to put the spotlight on HDR, which Hollywood has embraced in a big way. Notably, the film Roma is black-and-white and Netflix says that it “is available in Dolby Vision and has been color graded specifically to make the best use of this new technology”. It is also interesting that Netflix is giving Roma a theatrical run but that none of the cinemas can offer the HDR experience.
Furthermore, Netflix recommends advanced picture settings that cover everything from picture mode to artificial sharpness to dynamic picture circuits. While these suggestions are a little too broad for a specific TV, it should be a good starting point for most TV owners. The company’s full recommendations for Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio TVs are included in the table below. If you want FlatpanelsHD’s calibration suggestions go here.
Netflix could do even more
Netflix is clearly not a fan of motion smoothing in any way but some of the recommendations also include turning off reverse and 5:5 pulldown for 24p content. That is a discussion for another time.
However, the company could do more in terms of its own technical implementation. The Netflix app in many TVs is frame rate locked to 60Hz and while that may be caused by limitations in the TVs, there are also examples (game consoles) of the Netflix app forcing all content into HDR, which is a big no-no. Only very few devices offer true frame rate and dynamic mode matching for streaming services, with Apple TV (tvOS) being only device to offer it on a system level.
Nevertheless, it is great to see a global company put the spotlight on a problematic issue, which is that all TVs from all brands come with wildly inaccurate picture settings in default mode. Let us hope that TV manufacturers listen and start to take end users’ priorities more seriously than the priorities of its customers; the stores where the TVs that scream the loudest sell the most.
Netflix’s mini-site called ‘MyRoma’ can be found here.
Netflix: Best practices for watching Roma on your TV
Advanced viewing settings For an even more rich experience, we also recommend making these advanced image adjustments on your television. Note that at not all these settings may be found on your model, or they may have a different name.
General Picture Settings The values below are in percent. Most TVs do this, but if your TV has Brightness on a scale of 0-20, a 50% setting would be equivalent to setting it to 10.
Picture mode: Cinema or Movie (NOT Sports, Vivid, Dynamic etc) Sharpness: 0% (This is the most crucial one to set to zero — although Sony sometimes uses 50% for the "off" setting, confusingly. If the image becomes blurry at 0%, try 50%) Backlight: Whatever is comfortable, but usually at 100% for daytime use. Adjusting this will not deteriorate picture quality. Contrast: 100% Brightness: 50% Color: 50% Hue: 0% Gamma: 2.2 (or 0 if the TV doesn’t have it in a range of 1.8-2.9 but uses whole numbers instead) Tint (G/R): 50%
Picture Size or Aspect Ratio or Overscan: - Screen Fit (Samsung) - Just Scan (LG) - Wide Mode: Full (Sony) and Display Area: Full Pixel (Sony) - This may also show up as Overscan. - Cycle through the various modes if it's not named like the ones above, you'll quickly see what is the 1:1 setting, and which ones cut off part of the picture.
Advanced settings for TV brands Below are some Advanced Settings that should be turned OFF by common manufacturers:
Samsung: Dynamic Contrast: Off Black Tone: Off Flesh Tone: 0 Gamma: 0 Motion Lighting: Off Digital Clean View: Off Smart LED: Off
LG: Super Resolution: Off Dynamic Color: Off Clear White: Off Motion Eye Care: Off TruMotion: Off Real Cinema: Off
Sony: Noise Reduction: Off MPEG Noise Reduction: Off Dot Noise Reduction: Off Reality Creation: Off Smooth Creation: Off Motionflow: Off CineMotion: Off Black Corrector: Off Auto Light Limiter: Off Clear White: Off Live Color: Off Detail Enhancer: Off Edge Enhancer: Off SBM: Off
Vizio: Black Detail: Off Active LED Zones: Off Clear Action: Off Gamma: 2.2