Panasonic's 4K OLED TV dreams of being Hollywood's biggest star

Panasonic's 4K OLED TV dreams of being Hollywood's biggest star
Panasonic's 4K OLED TV dreams of being Hollywood's biggest star

It's taken a long time for OLED technology to hit the mainstream. Sony was the first to show off the tech at IFA, way back in 2007 where it unveiled the XEL-1, an 11-inch screen that cost tens of thousands. This highlighted the issue tech companies had/have with OLED - no matter how lovely its picture quality is, it's really expensive to make.

Skip to IFA 2015 and OLED is still trying to make its mark. Sony is no longer in the game, neither is Samsung, OLED is now firmly in the grip of LG and, as of this show, Panasonic.

Panasonic first teased that it had an OLED panel at CES 2015 but now it's official, it will have an OLED TV in shops this October. The price? Well, we will all have to wait and see on that one.

The TX-65CZ950 is a 65-inch curved OLED screen and Panasonic is promising that it offers the ultimate in high-picture quality with high contrast and rich colour expression that faithfully reproduces the vision of the world's Hollywood directors.

It's the director's vision bit that's the most interesting here. Panasonic is making use of its own Hollywood lab setup to make sure that the movie business gives its televisions the seal of approval. Its using this quality control to make sure its set don't fall for the same colour traps that have hampered OLED TVs in the past. In short: if those making the movies are happy, then those watching them will be too.

Hollywood star

This is a clever move by Panasonic. The company can't rely, like Sony, on its movie distribution arm to bolster its television sets but it can bring in Hollywood heavyweights to assess its televisions and give them the thumbs up.

Panasonic OLED TV

At IFA, Panasonic did just that. It didn't offer up a big-name Hollywood star - like Samsung did with Michael Bay at CES 2014 with disastrous results - but Mike Sowa, a colourist who has worked on many movies, including Tom Cruise's Oblivion.

The role of a colourist is something of a thankless task in Hollywood. Movie watchers go into a movie expecting the colour to be perfect but this perfection takes a lot of time, and colour reproduction differs whether the movie will be played at home or on the big screen. And then there's the added problem of pleasing those who have shot the film.

"Filmmakers have an expectation that the film they are making will look the same in the home as it does in cinema," said Sowa on stage at IFA.

"I was contacted by Panasonic to give them feedback from a colourist's point of view. We would bring in frames from a movie and I would give them tips on the colour reproduction. Panasonic has found extra time in their production process to factor this process in."

THX certified

Sowa is one of myriad filmmakers using Panasonic's OLED TV as reference kit for their movie making. Given the gamut of colours on offer through OLED, and Panasonic's 4K Pro technology, it is hoping Hollywood's acceptance of its TVs will help it in its battle against the likes of Sony, LG and Samsung.

Panasonic 4K Pro

The Hollywood endorsements don't just end there, Panasonic has also managed to get the first-ever THX certification for a 4K OLED TV, too. This quality assurance was dreamed up by George Lucas decades ago but it is still seen as a badge of honour for AV manufacturers, given the 400 plus requirements a TV must pass to get certified.

Panasonic's first foray into OLED has been a long time coming but on paper, the TV is impressive. It's curved and has HDR bells and whistles, which means that the latest high-dynamic range content to land on Amazon Prime and shortly on Netflix will ping nicely on the set.

Panasonic 4K OLED

There's still the on-going argument that OLED will never win out because of its expense, and Panasonic's lack of a price tag doesn't help here, but we will give our proper views on the TV when we get hands on with the CZ950 later this week.

  • Here's everything else that's been happening at IFA 2015
Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.