Netflix Explains Its Camera Requirements and Best Practices

Netflix has updated details for approved camera systems as part of its content delivery requirements. “While capturing at a higher resolution is certainly important to image quality, we know it’s not everything,” Netflix camera systems specialist Kris Prygrocki shared, emphasizing that other attributes include dynamic range, color accuracy, noise performance, sensor readout speed, compression, chrome subsampling and bit depth. Other considerations are post-production software support for the recorded file format, proper color management and metadata options, Prygrocki said. Netflix has had camera standards since 2019.

More detailed insight, as well as a list of approved cameras, can be found at the Netflix Partner Help Center. While all networks have delivery requirements, most concentrate on technical specifications and stop short of endorsing specific camera manufacturers. The Netflix list contains 7 brands: ARRI, Canon, Panasonic, RED, Panavision, Sony and Blackmagic.

Because camera technology is constantly changing, “we remain in constant communication with the filmmakers on our productions as well as the filmmaker community at large to understand what features are important to them,” Prygrocki shared in a six-minute video posted on YouTube.

“We do our best to remain as objective as possible by doing a multitude of tests and not just relying on one singular solution,” Prygrocki says in the video, which sheds light on the network’s evaluation methodologies. But if a filmmaker finds it necessary to use a specialty camera to capture a particular effect or scene, Netflix is willing to make reasonable accommodation so long as the unapproved camera system meets baseline standards.

“Action cameras, drones, and slow-motion camera makers generally have to make some concessions in order to have a camera system approved for use by Netflix crews,” writes PetaPixel, noting “this could mean using a smaller sensor which can have rolling positive effects like faster readout speeds and lower power consumption.”

Netflix will allow specialty cameras to be used “in select situations where their specialty is necessary to allow for the creative intent,” PetaPixel explains, emphasizing such exceptions must “follow some basic rules, like shooting at the highest resolution, capturing at the highest data rate, and recording at a wide color gamut and log curve when and where it makes sense.”

“Imagine you’re trying to capture the wing flutter of a hummingbird at 1,000 frames per second, or perhaps you need to mount a camera to a car crashing into a wall. These are shots that you just can’t achieve without the use of a specialized system, and we get that,” Digital Trends quotes Prygrocki as saying to contextualize possible exceptions.

While some professional filmmakers say Apple’s iPhone 13 meets (and in some cases exceeds) capture norms, as Y.M.Cinema Magazine reported in September, Apple is not on Netflix’s approved list.

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