Christopher Nolan Is Trying to Make Sure His Movies Won’t Look Weird on TV

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Producer/director Christopher Nolan is on a mission to improve your television-viewing pleasure.
Have you ever been to a super store and noticed that a movie being played on a demo 4K TV looks kinda weird? Like it’s being played at 1.5x speed? That’s because of a TV setting called “motion smoothing.” Put simply, it’s a mode added to TVs to remove the motion blur that comes with high-definition presentation… and Nolan is one among many filmmakers who dislike what it does to their films so much that they’re doing something about it.
Earlier this week, Nolan, who is co-head of the Directors Guild of America’s Creative Rights Committee, sent an email to DGA members announcing that he, fellow co-head Jonathan Moslow, and “There Will Be Blood” director Paul Thomas Anderson are reaching out to TV manufacturers to make it easier to turn off motion smoothing on TVs.
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“Many of you have seen your work appear on television screens looking different from the way you actually finished 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,” reads the letter.
Motion smoothing is done by adding fake frames between the ones that are processed from TV broadcast signals, giving a crisper presentation and a frame rate of 60 frames per second. For sports, this is great because it makes it easier to keep track of the action as it unfolds. But for movies, which are still filmed at 24 frames per second, motion smoothing removes the cinematic feel, making them look like soap operas by “speeding up” the presentation.
This has teed off many directors and cinematographers in Hollywood, from Nolan to Christopher McQuarrie to “Handmaid’s Tale” director Reed Morano.

Been at it for years. Sux.
– Reed Morano, A.S.C. (@reedmorano) October 5, 2017
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So why not just turn off the setting when playing a movie? Well, easier said than done. Turning off motion framing — which is the default setting on many TVs — can be very complicated and vary depending on the TV. On some TVs, it’s not even called motion smoothing. It might be called “frame interpolation” or “motion liquidity” instead.
Now, in the DGA letter, Nolan says that plans are being made to create a dialogue between filmmakers and TV companies to remove those roadblocks. The letter, which was obtained by /Film, includes a survey asking directors how they’d like motion smoothing and other presentation settings to be changed, including whether they’d like a button toggling motion smoothing to be added to remote controls.
So fear not, cinephiles. The days of digging into the Stygian depths of your TVs settings to remove the “soap opera effect” may soon be a thing of the past. Hopefully.

Director Christopher Nolan has become well-known for blasting audiences’ brains with mind-bending, over-the-top spectacles. His latest, “Dunkirk,” is capturing critical acclaim — but how does it stack up to his other efforts? Here’s TheWrap’s definitive ranked list of his movies.
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10. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
That you can’t understand a damn thing Bane says is the least of this movie’s problems. It’s heavy social politics and bleak ideologies of hope in the modern day are a drag for a superhero movie, and Nolan’s twists and parables strain credulity.
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9. “Interstellar” (2014)
On the trajectory of Nolan movies getting more and more bogged down in their complications, “Interstellar” is probably the pinnacle. It has its poignant moments — Matthew McConaughey’s despair-wracked sobs are pretty unforgettable — but gets lost in time travel, temporal displacement, global warming, interpersonal drama and a weird sometimes-documentary style. None of the ideas gets the right amount of attention and the whole thing is a bit of a mess.

8. “Insomnia” (2002)
It’s really the performances this remake of a Norwegian film work. Robin Williams delivers some of the best dramatic work of his career as the primary suspect in the murder of a teenage girl in an Alaska town. It’s more of a mid-budget stepping stone ahead of “Batman Begins,” but Al Pacino slowly losing his grip on reality ratchets up the tension.
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7. “Following” (1998)
Many have labeled “Following” as just a student film. It’s better than that. Nolan’s debut feature features his penchant for rules and brisk pacing. The story concerns a man who follows people around and becomes protege of a petty house thief (who shares a name with an “Inception” character, Cobb). And this Cobb has philosophies about creating chaos that are a dry run for The Joker’s craving to watch the world burn.
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6. “Inception” (2010)
This is Nolan’s “Vertigo,” a movie that combines everything that has defined his career into one ambitious opus. He takes the world of dreams and applies his signature rules and rigid structure into a bombastic, mind-bending thriller that’s sometimes awe-inspiring and sometimes maddeningly exhausting with its exposition.
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5. “Batman Begins” (2005)
Nolan reinvigorated the onscreen character of Batman with a more intimate look at Bruce Wayne’s origins. The more serious take on the hero. Thanks to Nolan’s focus on a man figuring out how to be a symbol rather than just punching bad guys, he helped make “Batman Begins” a template for superhero movies hoping to be more realistic and less cartoonish. And having Liam Neeson in your movie doesn’t hurt. 
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4. “Memento” (2000)
The movie that first really started to tip people off to Nolan is a noir-esque mystery told in reverse, with Guy Pearce’s detective unable to form new short-term memories. The movie’s construction keeps the audience as confused as protagonist Leonard, but once it all comes together, the frightening story of how people manipulate each other, and themselves, blows minds in the best way.
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3. “The Prestige” (2006)
Michael Caine’s three rules in “The Prestige” could also define Nolan’s filmmaking. Above all, Nolan is a showman who stages something elaborate and magical and then wants to show you how it’s done. Fittingly, “The Prestige” is Nolan’s most twist-filled and rewatchable film.
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2. “The Dark Knight” (2008)
It’s bolstered by Heath Ledger’s otherworldly, swan song of a performance, but “The Dark Knight” redefined grizzly, post-9/11 neo-noir. Its twists, moral choices and provocative themes on heroism upped the games for superhero movies and blockbusters for all time.
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1. “Dunkirk” (2017)
Nolan’s sprawling WWII epic is quite possibly his simplest movie. Despite its enormous scale and running three tales in parallel with some non-linear storytelling, the minimal use of dialogue and powerful performances makes “Dunkirk” incredibly tense and human. It’s a different kind of war movie — and Nolan accomplishes a lot by holding back (some) of his usual complexity.
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Where does auteur’s new WWII drama land?

Director Christopher Nolan has become well-known for blasting audiences’ brains with mind-bending, over-the-top spectacles. His latest, “Dunkirk,” is capturing critical acclaim — but how does it stack up to his other efforts? Here’s TheWrap’s definitive ranked list of his movies.

EmmyWrap 2018: Down to the Wire

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