How does a camera get Netflix approval?

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Netflix has released an interesting video that provides a behind-the-scenes look into its Camera Lab and how a camera gets on the Netflix Approved Camera List.

When Netflix evaluates a camera to see if it is good enough to be placed on the Approved Camera List they look at the following criteria:

  • Resolution
  • Dynamic Range
  • Color Reproduction
  • Noise Performance
  • Sensor Readout Speed
  • Compression
  • Chroma Subsampling
  • Bit Depth

CAPTURE REQUIREMENTS

In order to meet image capture standards required by Netflix, the following capture attributes must be adhered to:

 

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Note: Not all cameras that meet these capture requirements are approved. These requirements are the minimum specifications necessary for a camera system to be considered for approval. Other attributes must be taken into account such as dynamic range, form factor, stability, workflow compatibility, and more.

According to Netflix, they say that their camera testing is as objective as possible. It is ironic that in the video they keep talking about image quality, reliability, etc., and not resolution, yet cameras like the ARRI ALEXA Mini are not on the Approved Camera List, yet a multitude of affordable entry level digital cinema cameras are.

If image quality is the main aspect that Netflix is looking for, then its resolution mandate makes little to no sense, especially given that Netflix material is highly compressed when it is streamed. Cameras should be judged on their overall performance and capabilities and not on resolution. Saying that you can use a mirrorless hybrid, but not an ALEXA Mini is almost laughable. At the end of the day, Netflix has every right to decide what cameras its own productions can use, but a lot of DPs would argue strongly that some of their mandates make little to no sense when it comes to what camera they are allowed to use.