At TCL, we are proud to have introduced the world’s first TV with a THX Certified Game Mode this year: our award-winning 6-Series. We’re so excited about our new gaming TV features and are thrilled to have you learn more from the folks who helped create it.
After the critical success of the Star Wars movies, George Lucas and Tomlinson Holman (the “TH” in THX!), wanted the moviegoers to have an unrivaled experience in theatres. This shared vision, led them to create Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, in 1983. Also, this collaborative effort resulted in creating the THX certification program.
Since then, THX has become the quality assurance standard in delivering premium entertainment experiences that meet the creator’s vision. There are few names in our industry that are as revered and respected as THX.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Eric Gremmer, Director of Imaging Technologies at THX, who developed new specifications for THX Game Mode and UHD-HDR products.
Q: How long have you been with THX and in the industry?
A: I was an engineer in the video post-production industry for almost 20 years before coming to THX, when the THX Display Program started. It seemed like a good fit since both places required definitive attention to picture quality. I have continued to enjoy working with our THX partners now for 14 years.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: This is impossible to say since my personal disc library at home has movies from the 30’s to now. We pull titles depending on what we want to experience. We are more about people stories with strong characters, not so much action movies about situations. We buy discs because they still have the best picture and sound, and work when Internet connectivity is down.
Q: THX is already known to movie lovers, but THX Certified Game Mode is made specifically for Gamers. How are they different?
A: That’s right, THX has its origins in the cinema and THX Certified TVs have always come tuned for optimal cinematic viewing, designed to bring the movie theater experience home. However, what works for movies isn’t the best for gaming. For one, some games are intentionally brighter and more saturated than TV shows and movies, and you don’t want to lose that visual experience or have the game be duller than intended. THX Certified Game Mode is set to process brighter colors more effectively and precisely. Low input lag between the controller and the TV is also important for gaming and often video processing designed for cinematic content, like motion interpolation and noise reduction, is unnecessary for gaming and slows a display down. THX Certified Game Mode automatically switches off this processing to speed up gameplay. Another example is dark to light rise time transitions: For cinema, you want to focus on the accuracy of these transitions for a realistic look. Whereas for gaming speed is more important, so you can change from dim to bright quickly and not miss anything in fast-paced gameplay.
Q: Can you explain some of the things you look for to ensure that a TV lives up to “THX standards” when it comes to gaming?
A: THX performs hundreds of tests when we certify a TV, so it’s not easy to live up to the THX standards, and we like it this way. THX Certification is definitely to be earned. For THX Game Mode specifically our tests are focused on five key areas that will benefit gamers:
- Color: All picture settings are carefully adjusted to deliver precise, accurate colors.
- Clarity: Judder and smear reduction keep the picture crisp, while black frame insertion or backlight scanning improves the look of moving objects.
- Speed: TVs with THX Game Mode are required to have a refresh rate of 120 Hz or higher. More frames per second means motion will look smoother without blur.
- Input Lag: low latency ensures the image and controllers are in sync, so players can see and react to action instantly with minimal lag.
- Rise Time: THX Game Mode ensures low dark-to-light rise time transitions, which determines how fast the display can change from dim to bright, and bright to dim.
Q: What gaming set-up works well with THX Certified Game Mode?
A: The key thing gamers need to remember is to build the experience around themselves. Connect to your video game console. Then sit far enough away while being centered on the TV so you can enjoy the whole screen. The THX website has a great tool to help users find that distance. Next, switch the TV into THX Certified Game Mode so the video processing on the TV is turned off or minimized (the newest consoles will automatically switch the set to THX Certified Game Mode, so the system is optimized). If you have speakers for a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system or greater, angle those toward the central seating position. This will help you hear the nuance in the games’ sound design.
Q: What impresses you most about the new TCL 6-Series with THX Certified Game Mode?
A: The real improvement that THX Game Mode provides in responsiveness over using older TV technology. For example, all the parts must be designed to work together to reduce lag. THX and TCL worked through the hardware and software upgrades on many prototypes to optimize performance.
Q: Have you noticed how game studios are changing how they tell their (gaming) stories with the advent of things like higher resolutions, HDR, and VRR?
A: You’d want to ask the game studios, but technically speaking, HDR would give the game developer and the user a greater range of video versatility adding great options for visual impact. Variable Refresh Rate is a technical innovation to allow for the clearer appearance of moving objects, and pairing with equipment that has higher or lower processing power to render that movement. VRR is a great feature to have for TVs, especially one targeted at video games, because it keeps the picture as smooth as possible so the quality of the image is more consistent. For TVs, this is a relatively new addition and will make a difference for console gamers.
Q: Have you ever met George Lucas?!?!?
A: I have met George once at a Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers awards event many years ago.