Motion matters when finessing the creative look of a project

Lightstorm Entertainment to use Pixelworks’ TrueCut Motion to remaster big-name titles.

Titanic will be remastered using Pixelworks’ TrueCut Motion platform. (Source: Lightstorm Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox)

In December 2021, Pixelworks, known for its motion grading tools, launched the TrueCut Motion imaging solution, offering filmmakers a set of advanced tools packaged within the end-to-end platform that allows them to control how motion is visualized in their films. Now, several months later, Pixelworks has signed on one of the biggest names in filmmaking—Lightstorm Entertainment, founded by director extraordinaire James Cameron and producer Lawrence Kasanoff—which will use TrueCut Motion to remaster a number of Lightstorm movie titles, including its two biggest hits: Titanic and Avatar.

“We’re bringing Avatar and Titanic back to the big screen, looking better in every way,” says Cameron. “We will be presenting both films in 4K with high dynamic range visuals and have been working with Pixelworks’ TrueCut Motion platform to remaster the films in high frame rate while keeping the cinematic look of the original.”

Film technology has evolved over the years, especially with advancements such as 4K and HDR, which have greatly improved image quality. However, the look of the motion—an important aspect of a motion picture—has not advanced nearly at the same rate. As one DP explains, these imaging technologies are affected by the way they are rendered via the camera frame rate combined with the movement of the camera along with the movement of the actors—all of which impacts the creative look of the images on screen. And with today’s advanced HDR and bigger, brighter screens, there is an increase in the levels of judder.

“Filmmakers want to push the boundaries for motion, and camera and production technologies have enabled them to do so. Unfortunately, key elements of motion imaging at the display are stifling creativity in this respect. Today’s state-of-the-art, large-screen televisions have achieved incredible advances in resolution, color, dynamic range, and sheer screen size, but at the expense of motion integrity,” said Richard Miller, EVP of technology at Pixelworks.

The latest high-resolution, high dynamic range, large-screen displays for both next-generation cinema and television using higher luminance levels tend to enhance judder and reduce motion blur depending on camera fps, lens focal length, and panning and tracking speed. Too much judder is distracting and pulls viewers out of the story. While high frame rate can remove judder, it also removes the cinematic look.

Instead, TrueCut Motion contains motion grading tools and more that a DP needs to reduce the amount of judder and achieve the exact look they want, scene by scene. The Judder Control tool provides higher dynamic range along with faster motion. The Shutter Angle control enables filming with a fast shutter, while creating a motion blur look in post. Frame Rate Control ensures that a filmic look is maintained or restored on high frame rate shots, while Crank Control delivers a high-quality rate control. All the tools work with any source of frame rate.

The platform also contains finishing tools for a consistent, high-quality motion look across all screens, no matter their size or dynamic range. Also included is a new content delivery format and device certification program to guarantee a consistent viewing experience across all screens—from the theater to mobile phones.

According to the company, the process can be done alongside color grading at the same facility.