Sony says that in the future, content creators will calibrate your TV for you

(Image credit: Future / Netflix, Our Planet II)

Sony has for a while been pushing the idea of ‘Creator Calibrated Modes’, first in the case of its Netflix Calibrated Mode, which it introduced in 2018, and more recently with its Bravia Core Calibrated Mode. Each of these is essentially a preset that is unique to the original content on the Netflix and Bravia Core services respectively – a preset that has been produced in conjunction with the actual creators of the content. But Sony has plans to take this much further, as we discovered during a recent visit to the company's Sony City Osaki offices.

As it is now, each of the two Creator Calibrated modes currently available contains a set of picture settings that are designed to get the best out of all the original content from the relevant service. So, for example, if you choose the Netflix Calibrated mode, the same set of picture settings will be applied to all Netflix Originals. In the future, though, Sony would like modes such as these to apply settings specifically for each individual piece of content, and these settings would be dictated by the creator of that content.

So, let’s say you are watching a gritty drama. The director might want it to appear quite desaturated and with a fair amount of film grain, so perhaps when you started to play it, your Sony TV would automatically reduce its colours and turn off any noise reduction in order to deliver the creator’s vision. But let’s say you then switch to an animated movie that the creator wanted to be seen in as bold a fashion as possible. In that case, the TV might automatically boost colours and increase sharpness in order for the movie to pop as much as possible.

As well as the settings being specific to the individual piece of content you are watching, they would also be specific to the TV through which you’re watching it.

A great idea, but is it realistic?

If that sounds like an amazing idea to you, you are not alone. The idea that you could watch a movie or TV show with picture settings designed by the actual creator would be pretty mind-blowing. If you are also thinking that it sounds too good to be true, we share your concern.

Is a movie studio really going to assign resources to recommend picture settings for an individual movie for even one specific TV model, let alone several? It doesn’t seem very likely. What about TV models that are a year or two old? Or even older than that? What about when other manufacturers get in on the act? There’s just no way that a content creator is going to spend the huge amount of time it would take to produce settings for so many different TVs.

When we put these questions to Sony during our visit to the company’s Osaki office, the answers we received were fairly vague. The company says that this movie-specific calibration is at least a year or two away and that it’s in talks with studios about it; but the engineers wouldn’t be drawn on the specifics of how it might work on a practical level. The engineers did agree, though, that it’s “very, very complicated”.

We predict that some movies will appear, particularly on Bravia Core, that have some unique settings that are primarily designed to compensate for typical living room lighting conditions. These settings might be a little different depending on whether you are watching on an OLED, LCD or Mini LED TV, but we find it hard to believe they will go much further than that.

We might also end up with a sort of halfway house between what we have now and customisation for individual movies. Sony's engineers suggested that specific settings could be applied to different movie series. For example “every 007 series [movie], Brightness 40, but Spider-Man [could have] Colour 60”.

All told, this is a lovely concept that we can’t help but think is rather unrealistic. It sounds as if Sony is pretty determined it can be done, though, so watch this space.


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Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.