Netflix's New Original Film Is Just for Developers

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Netflix's latest original production probably isn't going to challenge House of Cards at next year's Emmy Awards, but it's important nonetheless.

Strange and a bit spooky, Meridian is set in 1947 Los Angeles, where the disappearance of four men, including a detective, leads a police captain to an eerie cavern. Only a few minutes long, the short film from Curtis Clark was created not for Netflix subscribers, but for engineers.

As Variety explains, the film will serve as "test footage [to] evaluate anything from the performance of video codecs to the way Netflix streams look...on 4K TVs."

Ideally, it will help adoption of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), a standard for master files that's intended to simplify the process of altering footage for different regions. "Not only do different markets require different subtitles, but there are also airline versions that come without riskier scenes, local content requirements like the need to pixelate all full-frontal nudity in Japan, dubbed versions and more," Variety reports.

Netflix is releasing Meridian under a Creative Commons license, which will make IMF "more usable across the web," according to Jennie Rose Halperin with Creative Commons. "Developers can access the Meridian codex or work with Netflix's hundreds of open source projects to create a better IMF standard with the company."

The film, starring Kevin Kilner and Reid Scott, is the third, yet most ambitious, piece of Netflix test footage. Shot in 4K HDR with 60 frames per second and a peak brightness level of 4000 nits and Dolby Atmos audio, the short—with its grainy footage, cigarette smoke, fog, moving background objects, etc.—is meant to put a strain on developers.

"This usage of the license is exactly the kind of usage we hope for: a more agile workflow through open licensing and a spirit of cooperation that creates better technical standards," Halperin said. "By using the CC license for this project, Netflix is saying lights, camera, action to the dream of a more innovative world."

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