Why Netflix is betting on Dolby Vision for its content in India and beyond

Written by Shruti Dhapola
| New Delhi |

Updated: March 20, 2020 1:57:16 pm

Netflix is bringing its first India movie in Dolby Vision with ‘Yeh Ballet’. (Image source: Netflix)

In December 2019, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had announced that the company planned to spend Rs 3000 crore on the content strategy in India. But this focus on content will go beyond the creative process, into post-production. In 2020, Netflix is bringing Dolby Vision content to an Indian film, ‘Yeh Ballet’, mastered in this technology.

Previously, Netflix has included Indian titles such as House Arrest and Upstarts which came with Dolby Atmos sound, but ‘Yeh Ballet’ is the first Indian film on the streaming service with Dolby Vision.

“At Netflix, we want to show our creative partners the best technology that is available. We have the platform and the ability to stream the content with this technology. Our thought process behind bringing Dolby Vision to Indian content to look at this as having a bigger box of crayons. We want to equip our filmmakers and our creative partners, with that massive box of crayons so that they can push their creativity,” Vijay Venkataramanan, Director of Post Production, Netflix India explained in a call.

Read more: Dolby wants its tech to become ubiquitous across smartphones

He said if standard dynamic range (SDR) allowed creators to work with say 100 crayons, with high dynamic range (HDR) it was the equivalent of 1000 crayons. “The goal of the creator is to keep the audience interested in that content and to grab their attention and hold on to it. That’s what this Dolby Vision technology enables them to do, by telling their story in a very immersive manner, ” Venkataramanan added.

Netflix already has several shows in the Dolby Vision format. These include popular shows such as ‘13 Reasons why’, ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’, ‘Black Mirror (Season 4, 5),’ to name a few.

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Netflix sees a major advantage in creating shows and content in such high resolution: the ability to future-proof content, so when the technology gets mass adoption, they would have the first movers advantage.

Dolby Vision’s advantage over standard HDR is that dynamic metadata is constantly added as the viewer watches a film or show, to tweak the display settings and ensure the best viewing experience. This ensures a much superior HDR viewing, though Dolby charges a royalty fee for the use of this technology on screens. In contrast, the rival HDR10+ technology used by Samsung and others also uses dynamic meta data but does not come with a royalty fee and can be added to any display.

Venkataramanan said Dolby Vision offers the highest specification available of the HDR technology today and that’s something they want to offer to both consumers and their content creators.

But what does Dolby Vision add for a consumer? In simple terms, it can bring content closer to our human vision, explains Venkataramanan. “When we walk into a dark room, we can still see a lot of detail. In a show or a movie, how does a director communicate to the audience that the characters are in a dark room, but also allow users to see the details? That’s what Dolby Vision can allow. Basically, what this technology is doing is push what you are seeing on the screen one step closer to human vision. Has it arrived there, yet? No. But it is bringing it one step closer,” he says.

Where can you experience Dolby Vision

Many devices today support Dolby Vision such as Apple’s iPhone 11 series, iPhone XS series and the latest iPads. Flagship phones from Samsung like the Note 10 and S20 series come with the HDR10+. Brands like OnePlus, Kodak and VU are already offering Dolby Vision supported TVs in the market, often with reasonable pricing.

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