Optimode Announced by Lucasfilm THX

Last week, Lucasfilm THX announced a new DVD software feature that they claim will allow the performance of a home-theater system to be optimized for individual DVD releases. The process, called THX Optimode, consists of a series of tests "that make it easy for consumers to fine-tune the audio and video performance of their home components."

THX says that the first DVD release to offer Optimode will be 20th Century Fox's Special Edition release of Fight Club on June 6. Other releases to come include Terminator 2: Judgment Day from Artisan, and Anchor Bay's Repo Man, Hellraiser, and Hellraiser II, with many more to follow.

According to THX, the Optimode tests, contained within a separate section on the DVD, are standard tests to assist in adjusting a full range of video monitor settings and "to ensure that sound-system performance parameters are optimized." The company adds that the signals are equal to the final reference levels set during the mastering of each individual release. "Thus, system performance can be tailored to each specific movie, a capability that consumers have never before been offered. As a result, the consumer sees the movie as the director intended. A filmmaker, for example, might shoot particular scenes or even an entire movie with a certain color cast to create a desired look or evoke a mood. THX Optimode, available only on THX-certified titles, reassures the consumer that these effects are accurately rendered."

THX says that Optimode is intended to be easy to use, with a section on the DVD that contains a range of test signals and complete instructions for using them. To optimize video performance, THX says it includes tests for adjusting contrast, brightness, color, hue, and other variables. For fine-tuning audio performance, Optimode hopes to make it easy for the user to properly set speaker levels and other basic adjustments.

THX's Charles Busslinger explains that "we first integrated these tests into the program material as a way to streamline our mastering process. Now, we've gone a step further by passing these capabilities along to the public, empowering consumers by allowing them to get the most out of each DVD release and their system."