Going way beyond 4K resolution: Netflix has filmed “House of Cards” third season in 6K resolution

by on March 15, 2015

Stephan Jukic – March 15, 2015

Netflix has always been both a staunch supporter and major pioneer of spreading the new 4K ultra HD resolution technology that gives TVs, other digital displays and digital video clips a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or just under 5 times the resolution of Full HD.

This is why the company started streaming its own original content in 4K resolution before just about any other paid streaming service (Since April of 2014 in fact) and had also pledged to film all the content it produces from mid-2014 onwards in 4K for the sake of constantly expanding its library of UHD entertainment.

With these activities and initiatives, it’s thus clear that the company has a pretty firm faith in the ascendency of the new ultra HD resolution standard and firmly thinks it will be the technology of the near future.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t prevent Netflix from also taking things a few steps further at least on an experimental basis. According to a recent report from “The Hollywood Reporter”, the third season of the extremely popular Netflix original series “House of Cards” was shot and finished up in an even more radical 6K resolution of 6144 x 3160 pixels that’s only available with the most professional video production cameras.

As the image shows, 6K resolution is much larger than conventional 4K

As the image shows, 6K resolution is much larger than conventional 4K

Netflix even went as far as having the show’s visual effects shots done in the above 4K resolution and this is quite a rare thing to do (even when the rarity of even filming in 6K is also considered).

Due to the large file sizes of these extremely high resolution “House of Cards” productions, post production work is not only costly but also more difficult to manage and even most films that do get shot in 4K resolution have their visual effects work done in mere 2K resolution (2048 × 1556 pixels), Thus, the 6K VFX work is distinctly surprising.

According to “The Hollywood Reporter”, the master copies of “House of Cards” episodes that Netflix received were only in mere 4K resolution but the streaming media company also requested that the production house itself store the 6K master video clips in their full 6K resolution for future use in what we can presume will be the even larger home viewing resolution formats that will eventually arrive to consumers’ homes.

And these 6K master copies of the individual episodes are nowhere near small. Each episode finished up at a whopping 5.5 terabytes, or 5500 gigabytes! In comparison, the individual raw (uncompressed) 4K master episode copies are an also enormous 2.5 TB each.

These massive file sizes are in fact the main reason why these kinds of Ultra-High resolution productions are so expensive to undertake at a professional level for large works of video content like TV series with their multiple episodes.

Of course, since there are still only 4K TVs being sold by anybody anywhere, we’re not going to be seeing the consumer option of streaming these episodes in this massive resolution for some time yet.

However, what Netflix is doing with the 6K storage clearly indicates that the company not only expects above-4K resolution to be a consumer option in displays at some point soon but also wants to be the first out of the gate in offering content when that happens.

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