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Netflix pirates Netflix, for the sake of better video

Meridian's real audience is UHD codecs

You won't have to search for Torrents of Netflix's new 12-minute show Meridian: the streamer has published the program as a kind of “test pattern” for streaming technology.

The program, which Variety describes as “spooky” and “confusing”, is at the collection of test media, under the Creative Commons 4.0 license.

To stress-test codecs, it's shot in 4K HDR (high dynamic range) video at 60 frames per second; peak brightness is 4,000 nits (candela per square metre), and the audio is Dolby Atmos.

It's also a test of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) Interoperable Master Format (IMF), a project designed to wrap universal content in market-specific metadata.

Netflix explains its interest in IMF as a way to avoid “versionitis”.

The post says “for a title like Narcos, where the video is largely the same in all territories, we can hold the Primary AV and the specific frames that are different for, say, the Japanese title sequence version.

“This reduces duplication of assets that are 95% the same and allows us to hold that 95% once and piece it to the 5% differences needed for a specific use case.”

Some of the company's internal work on IMF is starting to emerge at GitHub: for example, there's a content play list (CPL) editor here, which Netflix says will be enhanced with supplemental package support next month.

Anne Aaron, who heads up video algorithms for Netflix, told Variety Meridian is also meant to add to the catalogue of content for developers to stress-test their codecs and algorithms.

Without good live-action content under open licenses, she said, encoders drift towards being tuned to animated content like “Big Buck Bunny”. ®

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