This recommendation and guidance is meant for a wide audience and may not apply to your production. Please reach out to your Netflix Representative with any questions.
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The industry has been driven to reevaluate how post production work is being done. In order for us to keep our shows running, remote collaboration during the online, color grading and creative review process is more important than ever. These guidelines are meant to be fluid and open for collaboration with our partners, in order to ensure they can support the needs of our shows. These guidelines are subject to change as we gain more experience and feedback from real world remote scenarios.
In this document, we lay out possible scenarios and solutions, as well as some of their risks and benefits, to help inform on what resources may be available and fit within our technical and security guidance. To be clear, this is not a requirements document nor is it an official endorsement of any solutions referred to. This information is solely provided to engage collaboration and discussion and to share what we know.
The best solution will depend on the specifics of the production and the capabilities of the post facility. Please reach out to your Post Management contact at Netflix for guidance on your specific title(s).
While the industry is doing everything it can to keep projects moving forward when possible, our priorities are always guided by the health and safety of our employees and partners. We want to make sure we are all taking the necessary precautions to minimize risk across all of our global productions, post-facilities, local language vendors, and service providers. We strongly encourage following all recommended health guidelines provided by local governments and health organizations.
Setting Proper Expectations
A color grading or review setup at home will be compromised in comparison to expertly designed facility environments that adhere to industry standards for calibration and room lighting. The compromises will vary for each setup, and ultimately have an effect on color appearance. This may be acceptable, especially if the title is looking to make progress in the color grade, versus achieving final delivery within this time of remote work.
- Calibration / Color Accuracy - limitations in color consistency across devices
- Image Quality - any form of video streaming requires compression of some kind
- Viewing Environment - non-standard lighting, wall color, and room design
- Bandwidth limitations - QoE (latency issues, image quality, compression artifacts)
- Regional throttling scenarios
- Security of content - Home Studio Security Guidance
- Time - non-standard workflows will require additional time for setup and adjustment
While accurate monitoring for color grading and creative review is important, we understand there may be obstacles during this remote working period. If you are facing challenges with continuing or completing color grading during this time, please reach out to your Netflix Post Management contact who will connect you with our Production Workflow team to provide specific guidance.
HDR Grading and HDR Review:
There are very few options for reference viewing of HDR if grading can not be performed at the post facility. For colorists, this would mean that an HDR reference monitor is used for at-home grading scenarios.
A Dolby Vision HDR title must have its final pass of the color grade completed on a professional, Dolby-approved HDR reference monitor. However, a colorist may still make progress on the color grade by temporarily using a recommended flagship/high-end HDR consumer monitor (see “Displays” section below), and subsequently completing the grade with a HDR reference monitor.
For HDR creative review by talent or studio executives, please reach out to your Netflix Post Management contact for guidance on the best solutions.
HDR Grading and SDR Review:
For situations where at-home HDR monitoring is not possible for a creative (such as a director, show-runner or cinematographer), a review of the Dolby Vision-derived SDR version is possible. SDR video streaming for remote review is standard practice in the industry and supported by many video review and live-streaming solutions. This may be a good option for shows that want to continue to make progress grading in HDR while reviewing in SDR (using the Dolby Vision-derived SDR) and expect to be able to do a final pass in HDR.
SDR Grading and SDR Review (for an HDR title):
While we want to lean into continuing with grading in HDR when a show has already begun doing so, a show can still make progress in the color grade using only SDR monitoring. If the project is color managed properly, the grading work can still be used as the basis for a final pass performed later when HDR reference monitoring is available.
For example, if a show is working in ACES, the colorist can use an SDR Output Transform and preview in SDR in order to keep progress going, while keeping the ability to switch back to HDR for final checks and reviews. An SDR trim pass using the Dolby Vision tools would still be required when going back to finish in HDR in this scenario.
For titles finishing in SDR the guidelines of this document still apply. Please see options below for SDR color review and monitoring.
Image Monitoring Resolution:
Many of the streaming solutions referenced in this document are limited to HD (1920x1080) resolution. HD monitoring and review should be considered acceptable for color decisions, but final approval of image texture (grain, sharpening, blur, etc) should be done in UHD (3840x2160) if critical. Even then, compression involved may not be able to fully represent the image texture compared to a review of uncompressed images which may not be possible outside of the post facility.
Creative Color Review
The solutions in this section, at their core, have functioned as video streaming solutions to play content on multiple platforms for various needs. To date, there has not been a solution that can operate at global-average home internet speeds while maintaining the fidelity required for color critical work.
Most review solutions are based on the H.264/AVC codec at 8-bit. This is usually sufficient for general viewing, but due to the 8-bit nature, it may induce banding or other artifacts that may introduce questions about the grade. This is something to be aware of when working with any 8-bit video solution. When codecs can take advantage of 10-bit, the images can achieve higher fidelity.
Non-Live Streaming Color Reviews:
In an asynchronous scenario, a colorist completes their work, renders out a file, and uploads it for review by creatives at a later time. Session-based watermarking should be enabled for any review solution.
Dolby Vision vs. HDR10:
Some remote review solutions support HDR10 and some support Dolby Vision. When a consumer device/display is being used for color review and Dolby Vision is an option, it is recommended to use Dolby Vision. This is because the color accuracy of Dolby Vision will usually be higher (particularly on devices like the iPad Pro), but HDR10 can also provide an approximate HDR experience to continue making progress on an HDR grade.
There are many non-live review solutions available that can support SDR. It should be noted that HDR solutions are beginning to emerge but remain bleeding edge.
In certain scenarios (e.g. bandwidth constrained), local files on iPad Pro (2nd gen+) can be transferred and played using Apple Files (SDR, HDR). See playback instructions and recommended security settings for guidance.
Live Streaming Remote Color Reviews:
In this scenario a colorist works on a calibrated monitor, either at a facility or at home, and streams a synchronous video feed to the creative reviewing in real-time. Authentication and encryption must be enabled for all solutions. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is recommended where possible.
- Streambox (SDR or HDR)
- Provides a range of products for sending and receiving live video streams, either “one-to-many” using their Cloud offering or “point-to-point” where the devices connect directly to each other.
- For SDR review only, our base recommendation is to use the Cloud Encoder and NODE 2 receiver box (Smart TV) or iOS Media Player (iPad Pro).
- For HDR or any colorist working remotely, our base recommendation is to use the Chroma box solution with a calibrated display.
- 1RU sending unit, app receiving (i.e. iPad or Apple TV)
- Up to 10-bit (Clearview Flex app v2.2 or higher)
- Current pricing reflects a 35% discount at $1300 to $1500 per mo.
- High-bandwidth, 4K, 12-bit RGB, also requires Sohonet Media Network. Similar to TVIPS, due to the high bandwidth requirements (~800 Mbps) this solution should only be used for facility-to-facility purposes.
- T-VIPS (HD only) or Virtuoso
- Due to high bandwidth requirements (>100 Mbps) and high-touch engineering support needed, this solution is best suited for facility-to-facility purposes.
Data Management and Custody
Below are guidelines provided by Netflix Studio Information Security on the key aspects for data management and custody.
Anytime a file is transferred (physically or via internet) checksums should be run to ensure the files' integrity. A checksum (e.g. md5, mhl) manifest should be provided along with the media assets for verification on the receiving end.
Transferring content using home internet services may become a hurdle due to bandwidth limitations. When possible, transferring files via the internet using a secure transfer protocol like Aspera is the best case scenario; Aspera is commonly used by most major facilities as well as Netflix Content Hub. When bandwidth is limited, the only other option for moving digital assets is using fully disk encrypted hard drives.
Secure Network File Transfer (preferred)
- Content Hub
- Vendor/Facility offered secure file transfer solution
- Aspera or Signiant
- If other please reach out to Netflix's Studio Information Security team (firstname.lastname@example.org) for security guidance.
- Fully Disk Encrypted Hard Drives
- Hardware encryption is preferred and will provide the best performance
- Software encryption is acceptable but there will be a sacrifice to performance
- For a list of recommended drives please refer to the Home Studio Security Guidance
- iPad Pro (content is copied directly to the iPad's storage)
- Make sure to run the latest versions of iPadOS and movie player apps (i.e. Apple Files).
- Use a passcode (6 digit minimum) and/or biometric controls (TouchID, FaceID) for access.
- Enable ‘Find My’ functionality. This is available on iPadOS and it helps locate and/or wipe a missing device.
- Do not use any App Stores other than the official Apple App Store.
- Any lost or stolen device containing content should be reported to Netflix Studio Information Security team (email@example.com). This includes personally owned devices as well as those issued by Netflix or our Production partners.
The working storage system used during the actual grading session must also be fully disk encrypted. We recommend Windows Bitlocker or macOS Filevault to encrypt the storage.
Please refer to the Storage Policies within the Home Studio Security Guidance doc. Below are some key factors.
- All disks must be fully disk encrypted
- When media is not being used it must be stored in a secure location (safe, locked file cabinet or room, etc.)
- Once media on temporary storage is no longer needed it must be deleted.
In any color grading scenario, a professionally calibrated display is the most important item to be moved to the home. The display should be calibrated in the new environment.
This is a time when color management, and frameworks like ACES, should be highly encouraged. Color Management provides the flexibility to change between different display types, i.e. HDR vs. SDR, at the facility vs. at home, while maintaining color decisions and color appearance across displays.
Remote Working Scenarios:
There are several remote color grading scenarios that may be considered depending on the accessibility of facility based systems and the level of engineering experience required for setup. Below are considerations for some of the scenarios. Due to the variability of the circumstances for a given project, please reach out to Post Management contact at Netflix for guidance on your specific title(s).
Colorist at Home, Content/Hardware at Home:
- Facility setup is moved to Colorist's home/remote working location and the Colorist can work independently.
Colorist at Home, Content/Hardware at Facility:
- Hardware remains at facility, colorist is remotely controlling the machine using Remote Desktop/Application Control solutions (listed in the next section), while viewing using a live streaming solution from the section above (e.g. Streambox).
- This scenario is highly dependent on the facility having physical access and engineering support to set up, and the home having sufficient bandwidth (>100 Mbps) for both remote desktop control and live streaming of video.
Content Mirrored Remotely:
- Content is mirrored in two or more locations and all locations are sharing the same color project/database to keep in sync.
- Sharing projects and databases remotely will require some form of VPN and advanced networking setup to allow secure connection to remote servers.
If the plan is to render the IMF straight from the color grading project, please be aware that this is highly dependent on the version of the color grading software being used. We highly recommend that before starting a new color grading project, the latest version of the color grading software is used. For example, only the latest version of Resolve (16.2.4) is able to create a properly tagged Dolby Vision IMF straight from the color grading project (no need to create the IMF from a VDM).
Remote Desktop/Application Control
These solutions require dedicated bandwidth and low-latency connections. For Color Grading, these solutions are dependent on the colorist's tolerance for latency. See Remote Desktop Apps Guidance for security best practices.
- HP RGS
- Mechdyne TGX
This list is not exhaustive, but includes some of the more common displays we recommend for their tier of general use. We always recommend that displays be calibrated to industry standards. Color Grading & Calibration Guidelines provides minimum specifications for HDR and SDR displays as well as calibration and viewing environment guidelines.
Recommended SDR Displays - Calibrated for Rec.709/BT.1886 at 100-nits
Most of the modern professional and consumer displays are able to meet the standards of SDR color grading. Below are some common displays used for SDR grading/viewing.
- SDR (only) Reference Options
- Sony PVM-A250
- Sony BVM-F250
- Dolby PRM-4220
- Flanders FSI DM250
- SDR Consumer Options
Recommended HDR Displays - Calibrated for SMPTE 2084 PQ / P3-D65*
- HDR Reference Options
- Must meet Dolby Vision grading requirements
- HDR Consumer Options
These HDR Consumer options are for review purposes or pre-grading only, and not to be used for final color grading work.
* Certain scenarios that use HDR10 signals may require calibration to PQ / Rec. 2020
Calibration and Working/Viewing Environment
We understand that having the proper working or viewing environment at home can be difficult to achieve on such short notice. If proper viewing environment guidelines can not be met (Color Grading & Calibration Guidelines) then please make sure the working and viewing environments are not completely dark or extremely bright. A dimly lit environment with neutral (6500K) color temperature is the best guidance we can give.
Recommended Bias Lighting for Home Setups
- MediaLight 6500K Bias Lighting Systems
Recommended Calibration Probes for Home Setups
- Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 (Probe Only)
- Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 & VideoForge PRO (Probe and Signal Generator)
- X-Rite i1 Display Pro Plus (Probe)
Note: The Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 is only compatible with Calman 2019 R2 and future software releases.
Recommended Calibration Software
- Light Illusion LightSpace
- Free 3-Day LightSpace licenses for the duration of the lock-down. Please use their website Contact Form to request a free 3-Day LightSpace license.
- v2.0 - August 13, 2020
- Added Sohonet ClearView solutions to recommended live solutions
- Clearview Flex updated with 10-bit support as well as iPad app support
- Added appropriate URL links for Sohonet Clearview solutions
- Moxion HDR support has been added with notes
- Updated Resolve version to 16.2.4 in the "Rendering Deliverables/IMF" section
- Added LG OLED CX to Consumer monitor list
- Added links to Picture Settings guides in monitor list
- Added links for Playback Instructions and Security Settings when using Apple Files for iPad Pro color review.
- v1.3 - May 12, 2020
- Added link for How-To video on SDR calibration of LG OLED C9
- V1.2 - April 16, 2020
- Replaced references to VLC player with Apple Files for iPad playback
- v1.1 - March 30, 2020
- Updated wording in "HDR Grading and SDR review" section to provide more clarity to the scenario.
- v1.0 - March 26, 2020