HDR, HDR, HDR. Are you sick of hearing about HDR like I am? Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10, HDR10+.
For the past few years, 4K has mostly dominated the popular conversation in video, but as 4K has become ever-so-slightly banal to ordinary video users, HDR has been
steadily supplanting its dominance. Your customers ask for it, even though they can’t
afford it. Alas! Such is our plight as producers. We try to meet our customers’ needs
within their budgets, despite our personal opinions on just what exactly it is that they
need. So when the customer says, “I want HDR,” we say, “No problem,” and then scurry
off to figure out just how in the world to actually create HDR video.
What Is HDR?
Let’s begin with a primer on this magical world of High Dynamic Range Video. HDR
is an all-encompassing term. It covers proprietary methods like Dolby Vision, but it also
covers open-source solutions like HDR10+. And don’t forget about Hybrid Log Gamma
Despite what consumer television ads may lead you to believe, HDR is not a video
image with wildly overdriven saturation and brightness settings. At the core of HDR are
a few key differences between itself and that crotchety old SDR.
Some simple definitions will set us in the right direction. “High” indicates that the ceiling is greater than normal. “Dynamic” refers to the contrast. Think of dynamics in music
or having a dynamic personality. “Range,” of course, is a given span from end to end or
high to low. In video, this refers to the brightness and contrast of the displayed image.
By Paul Schmutzler