Part I: Project settings
Part II: Color correction
Part III: HDR Palette, project render settings
Part V: RAW
Part VI: The Grade
Part VII: Addendum
Part IX: Why HDR Production Monitors Matter
Note: The information in this guide is continually revised and expanded and we urge the reader to check back occasionally for updates. The current recommendations are valid as of macOS Monterey version 12.1, DaVinci Resolve Studio 17.4.3 and Desktop Video 12.2.2.
Since publishing our exhaustive workflow for HDR10 in Final Cut Pro, we’ve been inundated with requests to do the same for DaVinci Resolve – and with the introduction of customizable HDR color wheels that allow extremely precise exposure and color adjustments from super blacks to specular highlights in Resolve Studio 17, a terrific NLE just got even better! It’s baffling how to this day the single greatest contribution to cinema since the talkies remains woefully neglected by many in the filmmaking community and that there exists in 2021 no one-stop source with concise, accurate, up-to-date information for the enthusiast on the acquisition, processing and delivery of HDR video. Moreover, of the exceedingly few HDR tutorials that can be found on the Web, many have inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information. Our goal was to make this tutorial as intelligible as possible, with the aim of inspiring even more filmmakers to discover the incredible universe that is HDR. In part one, we’ll cover (1) how to set up your a7s III; (2) project settings you’ll need to grade HDR 10 in Resolve; (3) Blackmagic Design Desktop Video settings; and (4) how to configure your LG OLED for use as an HDR grading monitor.
Far from being just a gimmick, HDR is an entirely new language with its own unique vocabulary and an expanded tonal range, allowing for immense expressive possibilities. Yet much of the HDR content on video sharing platforms and streaming services like Netflix is virtually indistinguishable from SDR. And some HDR YouTube videos are so oversaturated, so grotesquely bright, so utterly lacking in contrast, with hideously blown-out highlights, that they resemble monstrous caricatures – yet unaccountably, they amass hundreds of millions of views – while at the same time exercising a corrupting influence on the taste of the general public. Click here to read more about HDR brightness levels and how shooting for HDR differs from SDR. For an example of superb HDR cinematography and grading, we can’t recommend the exquisitely lensed Netflix thriller The Spy highly enough.
Here’s how to set up your Sony a7s III.
For further examples illustrating how to expose correctly using the false color guide of the Ninja V, click here.
To sync audio with the Ninja V, be sure to check out this post!
Note: For the best results, we really recommend shooting RAW, not XAVC S-I internal.
In spite of bizarre claims made in some online tutorials, 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.
To use the HDR capabilities of an Apple MacBook or iMac built-in display or external HDR capable displays such as the Apple Pro Display XDR in order to preview HDR content directly via the Resolve viewer, observe the following steps. Note: the feature is only available on macOS 10.14.6 and above and DaVinci Resolve 16 and above.
While no one should be using the Resolve viewer for color grading on their Mac, this feature does have a number of advantages: (1) it makes it possible to edit HDR footage with actual color and contrast; (2) you can show the client/friends/model what you’re working on when on location or when there’s no HDR display around and (3) it makes previewing HDR content on a MacBook possible.
The time can’t come soon enough when we’re able to see an actual HDR image in the viewer on Macs with miniLED displays.
Update 12.2021 The Apple Liquid Retina XDR miniLED display has arrived!
UPDATE: DaVinci Resolve Studio 17.4 adds Native HDR viewers and 120 Hz playback on supported MacBook Pros.
For sure, you’ll want to calibrate your LG OLED before using it as an HDR grading monitor.