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Netflix sheds light on its ‘approved cameras’ for filmmakers

Netflix invests huge sums of money on original content in its ongoing quest to retain subscribers and attract new ones.

But did you know that commissioned production companies are expected to only use cameras approved by the streaming giant?

In a recent video (below), Netflix shed some light on how it works with camera makers and production companies to ensure high standards when it comes to selecting devices for its “approved cameras” list.

Approved Cameras - Behind the Scenes

In the video, Netflix camera systems specialist Kris Prygrocki kicks off by pointing out a common misconception, which is that the company’s only requirement for its approved list is 4K capture capability. Of course, high-resolution imagery is certainly important, but Prygrocki says it’s “not everything,” citing a long list of other criteria such as the quality of a camera’s dynamic range, color reproduction, noise performance, sensor readout speed, compression, and so on.

The video includes a look at some of the high-precision testing equipment that Netflix uses to test a camera’s image performance, though the company also keeps in touch with the camera makers to ensure its testers are operating the gear in a way that achieves the best results.

Prygrocki also points out that Netflix isn’t “putting together these specifications in a vacuum behind closed doors,” explaining that its camera requirements are the result of feedback from the filmmakers, who let it know what features are important to them.

Netflix’s list of approved cameras currently comprises 48 devices made by ARRI, Canon, Panasonic, Red, Panavision, Sony, and Blackmagic.

Netflix’s high standards mean that it’s difficult for some devices like drone cameras and action cameras to get on the list. That’s fine, though, as the company won’t stand in the way if specialist camera kit is needed for a particular shot.

“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,” Prygrocki says. “These are shots that you just can’t achieve without the use of a specialized system, and we get that.”

So although you won’t find devices like small action cameras on the approved list, Netflix says it’s fine for production companies to use such gear so long as they select the very best option available.

“Remember,” Prygrocki says, “everything we push for is an effort to help our filmmakers make their best possible work — what we call filmmaker joy.”

Check out Digital Trends’ guide for the best Netflix-made movies available on the streaming service today. And yes, all of them will have been mostly shot with cameras on the company’s approved list.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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