Netflix Tests 6K Production Waters With 'House of Cards' Season 3

House of Cards Season 3 Teaser Still - H 2015

Netflix's House of Cards season three took a leap into 6K resolution production.

The streaming service has been among the most aggressive OTT platforms in pushing a move to "Ultra HD," and season two of the D.C.-set thriller was its first series to be released in 4K (four times the resolution of HD).

Season three was again lensed with Red cameras (a go-to camera for House of Cards exec producer David Fincher, who also used Red on features including Gone Girl) but this time, with Red’s 6K Dragon sensor, billed as offering roughly nine times more pixels that HD.

Postproduction was handled at Encore in Hollywood, where the team put together a workflow to accommodate the 6K R3D camera files from production, as well as visual effects shots in 6K DPX files (delivered by VFX suppliers including Olin and Savage), according to Encore's senior vp operations Morgan Strauss. This is highly unusual; many features that are finished in 4K do their VFX in 2K due to the large file sizes.

Read more 'House of Cards' Season 3: TV Review

“We mixed the native camera files and uncompressed 6K files … and conformed in [Autodesk’s] Flame, staying as native as possible," says Strauss. Colorist Laura Jans-Fazio graded the series using FilmLight's Baselight system.

Encore claimed it created 6K archive masters that were roughly 5.5TB for each one-hour episode, as well as a 4K version, roughly 2.5TB per one-hour episode, which was delivered to Netflix. Since 4K is four times as much picture information as HD and 6K is even greater, post houses generally say the cost increases for 4K primarily surround data storage.

The representatives from Encore evaded specific questions about the House of Cards budget, only offering that it didn’t charge a premium compared with last season, which was already being finished in 5K to create a 4K Netflix master.

Viewers with the bandwidth to handle 4K and an Ultra HD TV to display the 4K will be able to see the higher-resolution version. Otherwise, fans will see an HD version.

Encore or Deluxe sister companies also post Netflix series including Orange Is the New Black and Marco Polo.

Twitter: @CGinLA