5 Shopping Cart
Your cart has been updated
checkout
Categories

The Cameras Behind Netflix’s Original Films and Series

Michael Maher

Curious about the cameras behind Netflix Originals? Here are the cameras Netflix has officially approved — and the series using them.

Top image via Netflix. 

As a company that produces and streams content on a massive variety of devices, Netflix requires their original content to be at least 4K for optimal presentation.

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Master of None
Image: Master of None via Netflix / Panasonic.

These recommendations come directly from Netflix, and they are primarily for their own content. So you can still shoot on other gear and hope for distribution, but to meet their standards or work on one of their sets, you’ll need to use the following cameras or specs.

Netflix’s Basic Camera Requirements

There are two main classifications for Netflix cameras: primary and secondary. Primary is your main camera, which must have a true 4K sensor. Secondary cameras capture any type of B-roll or additional footage, like crash cams, aerials, POV, and underwater cameras.

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Master of None 2
Image: Master of None via Netflix / Panasonic.

Primary Netflix Cameras

  • True 4K sensor (equal to or greater than 4096)
  • Minimum 16-bit Linear or 10-bit Log processing
    • RAW
    • Log (Including, but not limited to…)
      • S-Log3
      • V-Log
      • CanonLog3
      • REDLogFilm
      • BMDLog
      • LogC
  • Must send original camera files without looks, LUTs, or color correction
  • Maintain metadata
    • Tape name
    • Timecode
    • Frame rate
    • ISO
    • WB

In addition, Netflix requires approval for aspect ratios greater than 2.00:1 — filmmakers must also shoot framing charts before principal photography begins. That way, the framing charts can get processed through the pipeline of editorial, post, and VFX.

Approved Cameras for Netflix Originals

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Kimmy
Image: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt via Netflix.

When it comes to specific cameras, Netflix does provide a list of camera bodies that meet their specifications.

Netflix Approved Cameras:

Note that these cameras aren’t the only cameras used on these shows. There are other cameras that meet the standards, all the way down to a Sony a7S as a secondary camera in Last Chance U. In fact, let’s dive into some of the most popular series and documentary films on Netflix and explore their camera packages.

Cameras Behind the Scenes of Popular Netflix Originals

For a better look at the actual productions, check out these behind-the-scenes images of many of Netflix’s most popular series. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive finds.

Mindhunter

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Mindhunter
Image: Mindhunter’s RED Xenomorph Dragon camera via Jarred Land.

When you get top-name talent for your original content, you will likely score some perks. For Mindhunter, RED built a custom Xenomorph camera for David Fincher. You can read much more about the work that went into shooting and editing Mindhunter here on the PremiumBeat blog.

MindHunter Camera Package:

  • RED Xenomorph Dragon
  • RED Dragon
  • Leica Summilux-C lenses
  • Aspect Ratio – 2.20 : 1
  • Dolby Vision
  • HDR10
  • Redcode RAW (6K)

Stranger Things

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Stranger Things
Image: Stranger Things via Netflix

For Stranger Things (seasons 1 and 2), the Netflix original series also turned to RED cameras.

Stranger Things Camera Package:

  • RED Epic Dragon (Season 1)
  • RED Weapon Helium (Season 2)
  • Leica Summilux-C lenses
  • Redcode RAW (6K and 8K)

Master of None

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Master of None Set
Image: Master of None via Netflix / Panasonic.

The Aziz Ansari-led comedy series Master of None turned to the Panasonic VariCam.

Master of None Camera Package:

  • Panasonic VariCam 35
  • Lenses
    • Cooke Speed Panchro
    • Varotal
    • Zeiss Super Speed
    • Angenieux HR
    • Optimo
  • P2
  • Aspect ratio — 2.35 : 1

American Vandal

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - American Vandal
Image: American Vandal via Netflix.

I am a massive fan of American Vandal, and I’ve already gone deep into the production of the series. I truly consider this a glimpse of the future of documentary film, with its incorporation of so many different types of footage. The primary camera on the series was the RED Weapon Dragon, but the show also used video from iPhones — both horizontal and vertical footage.

American Vandal Camera Packages:

  • RED Weapon Dragon
  • Lenses
    • Leica Summicron-C Primes
    • Fujinon Cabrio
  • Apple iPhone
  • Aspect ratio — 2.00 : 1

You can dive into the massive breakdown of the series and check out some tutorials in this PremiumBeat article.

Ozark

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Ozark
Image via Sampson Jenkins / Cherokee Tribune.

The Netflix original Ozark followed in Master of None’s footsteps with the VariCam as well. I highly recommend checking out the interview with cinematographer Pepe Avila del Pino at No Film School.

We used the Panasonic VariCam. It has a dual-ISO with an 800 and a 5,000 ISO, which is interesting. And we used the VariCam because Netflix requires shooting every show on native 4K.

We did a lot of tests with the VariCam and the RED, and I was really happy with what the VariCam was giving us. We found that we were a little afraid of how the RED camera handles greens. We were going to be surrounded in greens while shooting summer in Atlanta, and the RED just looked a little too digital.

We shot everything at 4,400 Kelvin temperature, interiors and exteriors, day and night likewise. —Pepe Avila del Pino

Ozark Camera Package:

  • Panasonic VariCam 35
  • Lenses
    • Cooke S4
    • Zeiss Super Speed
    • Hawk V-Lite
    • V-Lite Vintage ’74 Lenses
  • Aspect ratio — 2.00 : 1

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Kimmy Schmidt
Image: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt via Netflix.

The comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt used a RED Dragon package for its primary camera.

Orange Is the New Black

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Orange
Image: Orange Is the New Black via Netflix.

The famed Netflix original Orange Is the New Black is one of the few Netflix originals to use the ARRI Alexa, which is the dominant camera in major cinema productions. It wasn’t the only camera they used, however; other seasons and episodes used the VariCam.

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Orange Black
Image: Orange Is the New Black via Netflix.

Orange is the New Black Camera Packages:

  • ARRI Alexa
    • Cooke 5/i Lenses
  • Panasonic VariCam
  • Aspect Ratio — 1.78 : 1

Netflix Marvel Original Series

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Luke Cage
Image: Luke Cage via Netflix.

For the many Marvel series, RED cameras captured nearly every episode of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders.

Marvel Series Camera Packages:

  • RED Epic Dragon
    • Daredevil
      • Zeiss Master Prime
      • Angenieux Optimo Lenses
    • Luke Cage
      • Panavision Primo Lenses
      • Cooke S4
    • Jessica Jones
      • Panavision PVintage Lenses
    • The Punisher
  • RED Weapon Dragon
    • Iron Fist
      • Panavison Primo 70 lenses
    • The Defenders
  • REDCODE RAW

Last Chance U

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Last Chance U
Image: Last Chance U via Devin Keebler / Netflix.

For the original series Last Chance U, the team turned to Sony F-series and A-series cameras.

We ended up going all Sony for Last Chance U. Our main camera was the Sony F55, but we used the Sony FS7 for tight locations and even an A7S for some emergencies. The F55 was a important choice for rural Mississippi, as it handled all the insane temperature extremes and crazy quick weather changes quite well. Also, it’s one of the only current cameras with a true global shutter, so I knew we were going to get incredibly clean and beautiful football action shots.

The F55 RAW recorder shoots a 4:4:4: 4k RAW that provided us with really great dynamic range and color options, so we shot most of our B-roll in this format. With the amount of footage we were shooting, we couldn’t financially take the burden of shooting RAW for everything, but their compressed 4K XAVC format still looks and matches great with the RAW that we shot.

You can read the entire interview with Director of Photography Gabriel Patay here.

Icarus

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Icarus
Image: Icarus via Netflix.

For the Netflix documentary Icarus, DP Jake Swanto told PremiumBeat the following:

We used a Canon Vixia for sort of that Supersize Me candidness that you see a lot of in the film. We shot with a Canon C300 and a 24-70, 16-35, and a 70-200. The camera was just the perfect package for us. I shoot with that camera on a Glidecam HD2000 on the back of the motorcycle. The camera ended up being able to balance on the Glidecam. Also, the dynamic range and also the versatility to shoot both action sports but also be able to go incognito enough to go into these Moscow labs and shoot with Gregory. It was the camera to use. Then when the dual pixel autofocus came out, it made it much better to control.

You should really read the whole Icarus interview about how the documentary completely changed focus from the steroid scandal into a manhunt. Really fascinating stuff.

The Confession Tapes

The Cameras Behind Netflix Original Films and Series - Confession Tapes
Image: The Confession Tapes via Meena Singh.

In another PremiumBeat interview, we chatted with DP Meena Singh and her work on The Confession Tapes. 

We used the Canon C300 Mark II. I’ve used it forever — and it’s just a workhorse. I love Canon over Sony and Black Magic and RED.

I think I probably did 150 interviews or something close to that. I just got so used to finding the best location. I think that using the Canon glass, the 30-105 cinema zoom open to a 2.8, and just shooting it wide open while having the interviewee actually pretty close to camera was the trick.

You can read our exclusive interview on The Confession Tapes here.

100+ Smoke & Fog Effects
Packed with 143 atmospheric effects, Vapor is an ideal way to infuse your footage with an elegant, cinematic look.