Rachel and I were browsing Netflix last night, when I came across something funny in the “Recently Added” stream: test files. I’ve seen these pop up on “What’s New on Netflix” before, and as a video geek, they’ve always piqued my interest.
They’re little test movies (never intended for public access) that Netflix adds to its streaming service at various frame rates, which I assume are used for testing. Though I’ve managed to get the these movies’ pages on the Netflix website before, I’ve never successfully played them. The Apple TV client, however, is able to play them perfectly well.
It starts off with some simple exterior shots from the Netflix campus. After that, a guy—who I can only assume is the life of every Netflix staff party—appears, running around Netflix HQ with a DVD, doing cartwheels around trees, moonwalking with a laptop, juggling, and performing a monologue from Julius Caesar. There’s a few more simple shots, and then the eleven minute video ends with some screen calibration images. All the test videos are made up of the same footage compressed at the different frame rates.
Naturally, such an anomaly could not go undocumented, and since I don’t have a device capable of recording an HDMI stream, I popped my camera in front of my TV and hit record. The performance from Netflix’s resident thespian begins around the 3:45 mark.