TrueCut Motion Gets Big Endorsement from James Cameron

Pixelworks issued a press release the other day announcing that James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment will be using TrueCut Motion technology to remaster multiple movies. The initial movies are remasters of Avatar and Titanic which will be released theatrically in 4K/HDR in September and next February respectively. Avatar: The Way of Water is planned for a December release, but the use of TrueCut on this film was not announced (although it would seem likely it will be used).

credit: Paramount Pictures

TrueCut Motion is a technology that Pixelworks has been working on for many years. The problem it attempts to solve is judder, strobing and motion artifacts that can result in 24p HDR content. While other solutions to these issues are available, they can destroy the 24p filmic look that many creators still desire. TrueCut Motion allows the adjustment of these artifacts on a shot-by-shot basis while maintaining the filmic look.

The endorsement of James Cameron of this technology is a huge milestone for Pixelworks – and one that will inevitably lead to many other content creators wanting to know more about the technology. I published a white paper on this technology a couple of years ago. You can download the Motion Grading comes of Age white paper here. A lot has happened since then so it may be time for an update to this white paper.

As filmmakers have moved to make HDR a standard for finishing their content, motion artifacts that were not present in SDR capture become more apparent. For example, object motion or camera pans where there are high brightness elements can strobe (flash) and judder (jerkiness to the motion). The higher luminance of EDR or HDR screens accentuates this in a negative way, and also makes the shutter speed look fast (reduces motion blur).

In post-production, TrueCut Motion is generally used after color grading. Motion grading is accomplished using a reference display by adjusting the “motion-look” controls:

·    Frame rate – defines the frame rate appearance regardless of the capture frame rate

·    Judder – a scale from 0 to 360, where 0 is the judder typically seen in 24 fps footage and 360 is no perceptible judder.

·    Motion Blur – a scale from 0 to 720, where 0 is no motion blur added to the original, and 720 is 720 degrees of effective shutter added.

·    An optional fourth control, Crank, can be used to adjust the speed.

As indicated in the images below, the filmic look can be preserved while eliminating artifacts.

TrueCut Motion will be rolling out initially for theatrical versions of content. In addition to Lightstorm Entertainment, Pixelogic is now also certified to do TrueCut Motion grading even on finished DCPs.

The TrueCut Motion master is finished at a higher frame rate (48fps for theatrical) which is compatible with a large number of digital projectors already in theaters today. That means consumers will likely have a local theater capable of showing TrueCut mastered movies.

Many will remember the decidedly mixed reaction to the high frame rate version of The Hobbit from Peter Jackson. Pixelworks used some of this content as a test case to prove they could eliminate the objectionable motion artifacts yet keep that cinematic look. See this video report from CinemaCon.

For consumer distribution, the higher luminance of TVs and other HDR devices makes TrueCut Motion grading even more important. But these end devices will need to be certified to recognize TrueCut Motion graded content and be able to run at the required frame rates. TCL is the first brand to embrace the technology, so this piece of ecosystem is coming together as well.

TrueCut seems to be meeting the needs of leading content creators opening the door for wider adoption.

Chris Chinnock, Insight Media

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