Bringing 4K and HDR to Anime at Netflix with Sol Levante

By Haruka Miyagawa & Kylee Peña

Some might dismiss them as simple cartoons, but anime’s diverse and fantastical stories, vibrant style, and delicate lines are an art form that has evolved and grown in popularity, variety and sophistication over the last fifty years. From its likely roots in colorful painted lanterns in the early 20th century, to gaining mainstream status in Japan in the 1970s, viewers now have hundreds of anime series and films to choose from all over the world.

Our Creative Technologies team wanted to elevate the technical quality of anime’s visuals, discover what new creative opportunities that would introduce, and to learn what it would take to increase anime’s resolution from HD to 4K and introduce the wider color palette of high dynamic range (HDR) to artists’ toolsets. When 4K entered the conversation, most animators in Japan asked for one thing: a bigger piece of paper! But the artists at Production I.G. saw the future in digital. A bigger, more colorful collaboration was born — and the resulting short, Sol Levante, is now available for streaming on Netflix in 4K Dolby Vision and Atmos!