Netflix pushing TV tech boundaries

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Just about every original programme and commissioned series on Netflix is made under their ‘4K obligations’. Indeed, the OTT streamer is so tough on film and programme-makers that it will not permit original material to be shot on one of the industry’s most popular cameras, the ARRI Alexa.

The rules affect ARRI’s highly-regarded Alexa cameras because its key sensor is only 3.2K resolution. Carolyn Giardina, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, said that film-makers argue that the difference between 3.2 and 4K is extremely modest and fails to take into account the camera’s wider range and flexibility. ARRI have just introduced a new camera with a 4.5K sensor which some have described as the ‘Netflix camera’.

Giardina quoted some critics who argue that the Netflix thrust towards 4K is more about marketing than creativity. However, many broadcasters are still firmly stuck in 2K mode.

Netflix last September launched its ‘Post Technology Alliance Program’ (PTA) to help equipment manufacturers to meet the PTA’s 4K requirements and thus be able to use the PTA’s logo on a website that features a Netflix-approved product. The PTA logo cannot be used generally.

Netflix said: “The Netflix PTA programme is intended to drive efficiency and innovation across the entire process, from tool development, through their use in the post production process, and for content delivery to Netflix. Participants have access to Netflix’s evolving roadmap and engineering resources so they can develop tools which have the latest features ready when needed. Our post-production partners benefit from knowing the tools they use have been validated and certified by Netflix to meet our exacting specifications, and from having access to enhanced documentation, training, and support.”

Joining the PTA is free but Netflix is super-tough in insisting that not all of a company’s products will then qualify, as every single device is subject to inspection/testing.The testing process will vary based on the workflow category your product supports,” added Netflix.

Products covered by the PTA system includes cameras, colour grading, various editorial products, media encoding units, and visual effects products.

As Giardina stated: “[Netflix] is having a penetrating impact not only on which content is made and how it is distributed and consumed, but also on the very tech that creates it.”


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