Garden variety 8-bit SDR TV has a displayed dynamic range of around 32:1, or 5 stops, while HDR has in the neighborhood of 14 stops, which corresponds roughly to the sensitivity of the human eye for a single, or static scene. HDR also has a vastly greater color volume than SDR. Videos uploaded to YouTube in HDR benefit not only from greater contrast, color volume and sharpness, but also suffer from significantly fewer compression artifacts than SDR videos. The absence of unsightly banding artifacts alone should be reason enough for choosing HDR. No one, having seen the HDR version of a video, would prefer the SDR one. Hundreds of different models of mobile phones currently on the market now support HDR. For those of us not shooting Netflix Originals or having our masterpieces of cinematic art screened at international film festivals, YouTube offers the very best platform for exhibiting our work and reaching the widest possible audience. Our hope is that this tutorial will help you to get started uploading HDR videos to YouTube with as little fuss as possible. The following are setup instructions for the a7s III, the Blackmagic Ultrastudio 4K Mini and LG OLED TV, along with guidance on settings for Final Cut Pro and Compressor for the purpose of uploading HDR10 videos to YouTube.
In picture profile, select either S-Gamut3/S-Log3 or S-Gamut3.cine/S-Log3. For what it’s worth, S-Gamut3.cine/S-Log3 is the most common color space used on Sony FX9, F55, FS7, F5 and FX6 Netflix productions (which also use the P3-D65 color space in post-production). S-log3 captures 13 stops of dynamic range, which is comparable to film negatives.
In spite of bizarre claims made in some online tutorials suggesting that tone mapping in Final Cut Pro allows for color correction in lieu of a proper external monitor, MacBook Pro and iMac displays may not be used for grading HDR video. Furthermore, it is not advisable to connect either directly to an HDR monitor or television set without an I/O box. Nor should one be relying on a field monitor like the Shogun Inferno for color grading. Focus and resolution should only be judged on a screen that is sufficiently large to allow viewing at 1.5 times picture height. Suitable displays include the Asus ProArt PA32 UC, ProArt PA32 UCX and LG OLED televisions. Apple’s Pro Display XDR is not recommended, as one can pick up as many as three Asus monitors or four 55″ OLED televisions for the cost of one XDR display with stand, nano textured glass and 3-year extended warranty. You might also consider adding a consumer reference display.
Exercise restraint and resist the temptation to crank everything up to 11 just because you’ve got a wider palette to work with! A little bit goes a long way. Most of the image, from shadows to mid-tones, should still be graded under 100 nits as before. Watch Netflix shows to get acquainted with how colorists deal with the expanded range of brightness: The Spy (2019), The Trial of the Chicago 7 or Altered Carbon are as good a place to start as any. A color correction workflow can be found here.