Do you ever wonder to know the secret behind those high-resolution scenes in Netflix originals?
The secret is the use of Netflix approved cameras to record and produce the Netflix Originals.
Notably, Netflix cameras are those cameras that meet the minimum specifications stipulated by Netflix to ensure the quality and consistency of its recorded original content.
These cameras have been tested by Netflix’s camera experts, verifying their performance.
Hence, before a Netflix Original is recorded, a suitable camera from the list of Netflix-approved cameras is chosen.
I will discuss more about their capabilities and why Netflix approved these cameras.
Netflix Approved Cameras Specifications
Netflix has several specifications a camera must have before it’s approved for use. Below are the specifications Netflix-approved cameras must do without:
|Minimum of 3840 photosite capture width (Spherical)
Lightly Compressed or Uncompressed RAW
Intraframe Based Codec with 4:2:2 Chroma-subsampling or Greater
|A Capable System of jamming to an external source.
Timecode should be written as metadata.
Scene-referred Color Space
(ALEXA Wide Gamut, REDWideGamut, S.Gamut3 etc.)
|Minimum 240mbps at 24FPS
Scene-referred Transfer Function
(Log3g10, Log C, Slog3, Vlog, etc.)
|10-Bit or Greater
What Are The Minimum Requirements For Netflix Cameras?
A Netflix camera must have a resolution of at least 3840 photosite capture width, an uncompressed RAW, and a bit depth of 10-bit or greater.
Also, a data rate of a minimum of 240Mbps at 24FPS, a scene-referred color space, a transfer function, and a timecode system that is compatible with an external source.
Why Netflix Has An Approved Camera List?
Netflix has an approved camera list due to it’s ensuring the quality and consistency of its original content.
They achieve this by working with the creative community, camera manufacturers, and experts who ensure these cameras meet the standards for image capturing and workflow.
Accordingly, Netflix is then able to produce high-quality images, colors, and sounds that match your expectations of a Netflix Original.
Moreover, Netflix provides best practices to filmmakers to avoid pitfalls when recording.
Consequently, Netflix requires 90% of a program’s final runtime to be captured on approved cameras.
What Are The Capture Requirement Features of Netflix-Approved Cameras?
#01. Image Resolution And Codec Format
For a Netflix-approved camera, at minimum, the camera should have a 3840 photosite capture width (Spherical) for its resolution.
This means that the camera sensor must have at least 3840 pixels horizontally, regardless of the aspect ratio or the shape of the pixels.
Further, the camera must be able to record in a high-quality format, such as RAW or an intra-frame compressed codec with 4:2:2 chroma-sampling or greater.
RAW formats preserve the most information from the sensor, while intra-frame codecs compress each frame individually without relying on previous or future frames.
The 4:2:2 chroma-sampling entails that color information is sampled at half the rate of luminance information. This results in fewer color artifacts and more detail.
#02. Sensor Size And Type
Netflix does not specify a sensor size or type for its approved cameras.
However, they do test the camera’s performance based on their dynamic range, detail rendition, signal-to-noise ratio, and more.
#03. Bit Depth And Data Rate
In terms of bit depth, Netflix requires a bit depth of 10-bit or greater.
Bit depth is the number of bits used to store the color information for each pixel in the image.
Therefore, the higher the bit depth, the more colors and shades the camera can capture.
This will result in smoother gradients and less banding. While for data rate which is the amount of data that a camera records per second, 240Mbps at 24FPS is required for approved cameras.
With a high data rate, the less compression and artifacts the camera introduces, resulting in higher fidelity.
#04. Color Space
For color space, Netflix requires a scene-referred color space.
In essence, a color space is a mathematical model that defines the range and representation of colors that a camera can capture.
With a scene-referred color space, most of the original colors and brightness of the scene are preserved.
Netflix having this requirement makes it possible for more flexibility and accuracy in post-production when the colorist works on the images according to the creative intent and the target display.
#05. Transfer Function
A transfer function is a mathematical function that maps the input values of the camera sensor to the output values of the recorded images.
Hence, Netflix uses a scene-referred transfer function for its approved cameras. This transfer function preserves the original contrast and tonality of the scene.
#06. Recording Media
There is no specific recording media for Netflix. However, it does advise to use fast and reliable storage device that can guarantee a high data rate.
Examples include Solid State Drives (SSDs), Compact Flash Cards (CFs), or external recorders.
#07. Audio Standards
Netflix recommends using professional and high-quality audio equipment that can capture clear and crisp sound.
Standard audio examples are 24bit/48kHz PCM, Dolby Atmos, or Dolby Digital Plus.
#08. Lens Compatibility
For lens compatibility, Netflix is more concerned with the use of high-quality and versatile lenses that can produce sharp and distortion-free images.
Related > What Does a Camera Polarizer Lens Do?
Best Netflix Approved Cameras List
Netflix has its list of approved cameras from several notable brands such as,
- Blackmagic Design
From the above brands, Netflix has picked some cameras that meet or surpass its requirements. Below are a select few with their advantages and purposes.
Canon EOS C70
This approved camera is a compact and versatile digital cinema camera that can record up to DCI 4K 60p resolution video to dual slots using widely available and more affordable SD cards.
It has a Super 35mm sensor, a built-in ND filter, and a dual gain output for high dynamic range and low noise.
This camera also supports Canon’s autofocus system and interchangeable lens mount, thereby accepting a variety of lenses from Canon and other brands.
The EOS C70 is ideal for handheld shooting, documentaries, and low-budget productions.
Other Netflix-Approved Canon Models:
- Canon C300 Mk II,
- Canon C300 Mk Iii,
- Canon C500 Mk II,
- Canon C700.
Among other Sony cameras, Netflix recommends Sony FX6 because of its outstanding specifications including the capability to shoot video in resolutions up to 4K at 120p or Full HD at 240p, full-frame sensor, a built-in ND filter, impressive dynamic range of 15 stops, and others.
Moreover, the camera comes with Sony’s autofocus system, S-Log3, and S-Cinetone color profiles, which makes it capable of capturing documentaries, event productions, and cinematic storytelling.
Other Netflix-Approved Sony Models:
- Sony Venice 2 8K
- Sony Venice 2 6K
- Sony Venice
- Sony FX9
- Sony Z750 and more.
For filmmakers seeking a versatile and less expensive camera for difficult shots, the Panasonic S1H is an excellent choice.
This full-frame camera is capable of recording video in resolutions up to 6K at 24p or 4K at 60p across formats such as MOV, MP4, HEVC, and others.
Other Netflix-Approved Panasonic Models:
- Panasonic VariCam 35
- Panasonic VariCam LT
- Panasonic VariCam Pure
- Panasonic AU-EVA1
- Panasonic BGH1.
Introducing the Panavision DXL2; This camera from Panavision is the only one from this brand approved by Netflix.
It’s a cinema camera that captures high-resolution video in either 8K at 60 frames per second or 4K at 120 frames per second. It supports ProRes and R3D formats.
It has a 16-bit color depth, a 15-stop dynamic range, and a built-in motorized ND filter.
The DXL2 is a collaboration between Panavision, RED, and Light Iron which equipped the camera with Panavision’s autofocus system, Light Iron Color 2 and HDR color profiles, and PV70 mount lenses.
For high-end Netflix productions such as films, TV shows, and commercials, DXL2 is the camera to settle on.
ARRI ALEXA 65
ALEXA 65 is a large-format camera that records videos in 6.5K 60p resolution in ARRIRAW format.
This is a premium camera that offers stunning images and performance for feature films, TV shows, and commercials.
The camera has a 15+ stop dynamic range, a dual native ISO, and a built-in motorized ND filter.
Moreover, the camera supports ARRI’s autofocus system, Log C and Wide Gamut color profiles, and interchangeable XPL mount lenses.
All these features made it possible for the camera to get Netflix’s approval.
Other Netflix-Approved ARRI Models:
- ARRI Alexa LF
- ARRI Alexa Mini LF
- ARRI Alexa 35.
RED RANGER MONSTRO 8K VV
This Netflix-approved camera has a 17+ stop dynamic range, dual native ISO, and a built-in motorized ND filter.
It records videos in resolutions up to 8K 60p or 4K 120p.
The RANGER MONSTRO supports RED’s autofocus system, IPP2 and HDR color profiles, and interchangeable PL mount lenses.
Consequently, this camera offers exceptional image quality and performance for high-end productions like feature films, TV shows, and commercials.
Other Netflix-Approved Red Models:
- Red Weapon Dragon 8k VV
- Red Dsmc2 / Weapon Helium 8k S35
- Red Epic-W Helium 8k S35
- Red Weapon Dragon 6k S35
Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12k
This is a groundbreaking Super 35mm cinema camera that records up to 12K 60p or 8K 120p resolution videos in Blackmagic RAW format.
Furthermore, it has a 14-stop dynamic range, a dual native ISO, and a built-in ND filter.
Not only that, it supports Blackmagic’s autofocus system, DaVinci Wide Gamut and HDR color profiles, and interchangeable EF, PL, or F mount lenses.
Netflix uses it for high-end productions such as feature films, TV shows, and commercials.
Other Netflix-Approved Blackmagic Design Models:
- Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K
- Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K
- Blackmagic Design URSA Mini PRO 4.6K H2.
Tips And Tricks To Use Netflix-Approved Cameras
There are some tips and tricks you should be aware of when using Netflix-approved cameras to avoid common errors that can lead to added costs and lost time. Below are the common ones:
Black Balancing / Black Shading
It is advised to regularly black shade your camera sensor according to the manufacturer’s guide.
For the best result, you should allow the camera to come up to its operating temperature before performing the sensor calibration.
This will ensure accurate colors in your footage and reduce distortions.
Those in charge of the camera discuss the aspect ratio of the recording with the Netflix creative team beforehand.
Typically, Netflix prefers aspect ratios that are less than or equal to 2:1.
To use a different aspect ratio, you need to get Netflix’s approval and ensure the camera can capture enough resolution for the new aspect ratio.
Netflix requires a scene-referred color space and transfer function since they preserve the original colors and contrast of the scene.
Hence, you must test color space transformation before shooting. However, different cameras may have different color spaces and transfer functions.
It is necessary to test how these different color spaces and transfer functions translate to the Netflix display standard, which is Rec. 2020 PQ.
As much as possible, spanned clips should be avoided unless it is necessary.
Spanned clips are single takes recorded on multiple cards that cause problems in the post-production workflow process.
You can avoid this by using large-capacity storage devices. Also, stop and start recording between each take.
If you are using an external recorder for special instances, ensure that all external recorders are in line with the minimum Netflix-approved camera requirements.
This recorder should also be compatible with the main camera and the post-production workflow.
How to Use Non-Approved Cameras in Netflix?
Usually, some instances come up during filming that may require the use of non-approved Netflix cameras.
Netflix is flexible to using non-approved cameras, but it requires some extra steps and precautions to ensure optimal image quality and compatibility with the main camera.
To use a non-approved camera on Netflix, you should:
- Consult with your Netflix Post Manager or point of contact before shooting with a non-approved camera. Once accepted, they can help you perform real-world tests to verify the results and avoid potential issues.
- Use the highest resolution, bit depth, data rate, and color space available on the non-approved camera. This will help preserve the most information and detail in the recorded scene.
- Use a timecode system that can jam to an external source, such as a sonder recorder, or a master clock, or write the timecode as metadata on the camera.
- Avoid using consumer-grade media formats like SD cards. Rather, use media formats designed and recommended by the camera manufacturer that can handle high data rates and large file sizes of the capture format.
- Avoid spanned clips and ensure external recorders meet Netflix’s minimum requirements.
- Lastly, use high-quality and versatile lenses that can produce sharp and distortion-free images.
01. What Camera Does Netflix Accept?
Netflix accepts cameras that meet its minimum specifications for image capture quality and workflow compatibility.
02. What Black Magic Cameras Are Netflix-Approved?
According to the Netflix Partner help website, four Blackmagic cameras have been approved by Netflix.
They are; Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K, Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, Blackmagic Design URSA PRO 4.6K G2, and Blackmagic Design URSA Mini PRO 12K OLPF.
03. Can You Use Non-Netflix-Approved Cameras?
Netflix allows the use of non-approved cameras for up to 10% of the final total runtime of a program.
However, Netflix prefers to use approved cameras whenever possible and may reject the use of non-approved cameras for certain projects.
04. What Red Camera Is Approved By Netflix?
Currently, 19 RED cameras have been approved by Netflix. Popular among them are RED DSMC2, MONSTRO, WEAPON DRAGON, EPIC-W HELIUM, and KOMODO-X.
These cameras can capture 4K or higher resolution in RAW or ProRes formats with 10-bit or higher resolution.
05. Is There A Netflix-Approved Drone Camera?
Netflix does not have a list of approved drone cameras. Nonetheless, Netflix has ways around this.
For instance, the Panasonic BGH1(Netflix-approved) can be customized for drone filming.
Netflix has also used the RED DSMC2 and ARRI ALEXA MINI for drone filming.
06. Is Gopro Netflix Approved?
Not all GoPro cameras are approved. GoPro is not a brand approved by Netflix, but they can be used in some cases.
The GoPro HERO9 Black records up to 5K 30p with ProTune RAW and 10-bit depth, which meets some of Netflix requirements.
The GoPro HERO9 has been tentatively approved by Netflix.
07. Is The iPhone Camera Netflix Approved?
iPhone cameras do not meet Netflix’s camera requirements. However, some contest that recent iPhones like the iPhone 12 Pro can be used.
Netflix hasn’t approved it on their official website.
08. Is Black Magic Ursa Netflix Approved?
Yes. Four Blackmagic URSA cameras have been approved by Netflix.
They include Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, Blackmagic Design URSA Mini PRO 12k and Blackmagic Design URSA Mini PRO 4.6K H2.
09. Cheapest Netflix Approved Camera?
The cheapest Netflix-approved camera is the Panasonic Lumix BGH1 which was recently approved by Netflix. It costs less than $2,000.
It records up to 4K 60p video with 10-bit 4:2:2 color and V-Log L profile, meeting Netflix’s specifications.
10. Is Alexa 35 Netflix Approved?
Yes. According to Netflix Production Guide, the ALEXA 35. It can record up to 4.6K 60p video with ARRIRAW codec and 16-bit linear color.
With these features, the camera meets the technical requirements for Netflix-approved cameras.
11.Why Is The Blackmagic 6k Not Netflix-Approved?
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K is not on the Netflix-approved list of cameras as it does not meet Netflix’s requirements for codec or bit depth.
The camera can only capture 6K resolution with 8-bit depth. Netflix requires 10-bit depth.