Is HDR Video Worth It? The Value Of 13 Stops When Editing

HDR Video – the hottest trend in cinematography in the last five years is still a topic of debate. Is it just a marketing gimmick? Are there any actual benefits to it? 

The thing is, every videographer has their own techniques for shooting and editing video. And what works for one videographer could be completely different than what works for someone else. 

So we’re not here to END the debate but rather to give you a perspective on what High Dynamic Range means and explain the benefits of HDR over SDR, and even give you a few tips and tricks to improve your workflow. 

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Explained 

HDR is a short form for High Dynamic Range, and it is typically used to describe a type of video where the contrast ranges in brightness are much greater than in traditional videos. 

Standard Dynamic Range or SDR is a legacy standard used to describe traditional and conventional picture and video quality. 

Compared to SDR, HDR technology aims to reproduce what the naked eye sees and is often considered the next great leap in video realism. 

The contrast between the whites and the blacks is greater, resulting in an image that has better-emphasized shadows and overall color clarity. 

HDR was first popularized in videography, but today HDR content is also taking the world of photography by storm. 

Outside of the technical aspects of the standard, many artists and creators also consider the standard to have a unique “feel” or “vibe” compared to other video standards.

This unique “feel” is also preferred by most viewers and content consumers, also making it part of the reason why HDR is booming in popularity. 

Scene Luminance, Contrast, and The Value of More Stops

In technical terms, High Dynamic Range has better scene luminance than Standard Dynamic Range. 

Motion picture images have variable ranges in the luminance of the brightest whites and the blackest blacks in a specific scene. This range, called scene luminance, is often measured using a lens T-Stop. 

The T-Stop measures the percentage of light that comes through a lens mixed with the F-stop number of that lens. 

Standard video quality often has a standard contrast of about 6 stops, whereas High Dynamic Range video boasts 13 stops or more. On average, HDR can triple the dynamic range compared to SDR with more than 18 stops! 

This makes the colors on the screen appear much more realistic and closer to what the actual human eye sees. 

That’s also the reason why HDR has taken the world by storm and is the preferred video quality to enjoy long-form pieces of content, including motion pictures and films. 

Unmatched Realism: The Wide Range Of Exposure 

The wider range of exposure allows HDR to provide improved contrast, color range, and sharper and more beautiful images. 

It’s not JUST a new format, but it is an innovation in a video that provides a better experience for the viewer and a better ability to convey a visual message to the creator.

For some, the difference in quality is so notable that they compare the leap in technology to the leap videography experienced when it transitioned from black and white to color. 

Of course, the difference in realism is harder to convey, but the leap is still notable. 

The History High Dynamic Range (HDR) Video

HDR video is a relatively new format, and it has been created with the sole purpose of conveying to the viewer that they’ll have a more authentic experience when viewing content on an HDR-stamped technology. 

The way to digitally capture a higher dynamic range itself has been a capability of capturing and recording technology for years. 

High Dynamic Range video has been around since the early 2000s. It was first used by the National Television System Committee. 

The technology was used in conjunction with other technologies to help create more realistic digital content. 

However, the way to consolidate the data that visual sensors take in and convert it into an easily transferable format hasn’t been set in place. 

 In 2014, the UHD Alliance published a new standard for HDR. This is the first time that HDR has been standardized. 

The formats emerged to enhance videos through an end-to-end imaging process used to enhance the dynamic range – from capture to storage, distribution, and display. 

Over the years, HDR technology and formats have improved, and today it’s quickly growing in popularity – both among creators and consumers of content. 

High Dynamic Range (HDR) video is one of the best forms of video content available to date. 

It is able to produce images that are more natural, dynamic, and detailed. 

HDR video is an immersive video that was popularized by Hollywood movies, smartphone manufacturers, and even digital content providers. 

Now, HDR is a major part of the mainstream. Everyone knows that when you have an HDR video, you have a more dynamic range and more details in dark scenes. But the benefits are often much greater. 

With HDR capture and display technology becoming cheaper and more affordable with each single day, it’s the new standard that, whether you like it or not, is here to stay. 

Should you use HDR for Videography?

Now, the question remains. If you are a videographer, should you switch to HDR? 

On the surface, the answer is simple and straightforward – yes! But the high cost of production, the needed processing power for post-production, and a plethora of other hassles might actually make HDR an inconvenient choice. 

Yet, the fact of the matter is, whether you are a content creator on YouTube, a cinematography student, or a professional in the industry, you can’t escape the use of HDR if you want to provide the best picture quality for your viewers. 

That’s especially true if you have already spent thousands on camera equipment. 

The current video formats we use are not sufficient for the more advanced cameras we can get these days. 

It is imperative to have videos that can give an image with a wide range of colors with the help of HDR video. 

Plus, post-processing software is also becoming more powerful and more freely available. 

In fact, HDR has become an increasingly popular choice for post-production work and has already filtered into the mainstream market. 

The wider range of color and brightness compared to traditional video formats just provides a level of realism that no other piece of standardized mainstream technology can provide. 

The images are richer and more vibrant, which makes it much more appealing than the older video formats. 

HDR video provides more colors and improved contrast, taking any videography or cinematography project to the next level.

It’s a no-brainer why High-Dynamic Range is a video option that is becoming more popular, considering the significant improvements over SDR video. 

Plus, the technology is perfect to use in dark room scenarios or when the difference between the brightness of the background and the shadows of the subjects is too large.

It simply makes it easier to see the difference between details in shadows and highlights.

In addition, HDR video has a higher contrast level when compared to regular video. As a result, HDR video is more visually appealing to consumers.

And there are dozens of cases in which it’s much better to use it. In fact, it can give you better creative freedom by allowing you to shoot with amazing quality in an array of different lighting conditions. 

So is HDR video worth the extra cost? 

If you are a professional videographer, it’s almost unavoidable. It’s a technology you should embrace. 

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Video – Simply Better!

There has been a lot of hype around HDR video lately. And the hype is justified! 

It’s more realistic and, as the name suggests, has a greater dynamic range, which means it has more contrast, meaning a lot of lights and dark areas. 

This is great for filmmakers because it can give them more options to covey the vision they have for a scene.

And it’s also great for the viewers because it provides you with a better viewing experience.

Yes, High-Dynamic Range (HDR) video is more expensive when it comes to editing, but it is worth it.

High-Dynamic Range video is a more expensive, but better option for videographers because it is much easier to edit. It takes less time to edit an HDR video than to edit a standard definition video, makes it easier to share, and actually makes a difference in the quality of the end result. 

If you’re pursuing the best possible footage for your projects, then HDR should definitely be on your list. 

So, now you know why HDR video is the better choice over SDR. 

HDR is a great way to create a polished and captivating video that consumers will be drawn to as it provides them with clearer, more vivid colors and a wider range of colors. 

It’s as simple as that. 

We hope we’ve helped answer your questions and if you ever need Royalty-Free HDR Videos for your projects, contact us at contact@raw.film – we would love to hear from you!