Cameraman shooting with children looking at viewfinder
During a recent production, a Spanish based production company, Góndola Films, that specializes in human interest documentaries decided to use HDR

You might have heard of HDR before, or at least you should have. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is the newest technology to get the best image on screen, regardless of whether you are working in HD or 4K/UltraHD. It is an increase in dynamic range and luminance values and wide color gamut or WCG, meaning richer colors across the board. WCG is defined by the P3 or BT.2020 standards for color reach. SDR, or Standard Dynamic Range, can have 6 stops of dynamic range, however HDR offers up to 12 stops more of dynamic range for a total of 16/18 stops. That added dynamic range offers a wider reach into shadows and highlights in terms of luminance detail and a real pop to the color range with the ability to show true greens and magnificent golds.

Why HDR is appealing

HDR is a technology that allows us to get closer to the Human Visual System (HVS). Our eyes do a much better job at perceiving the dynamic range in both bright and dark lighting situations, with greater detail in the shadows and highlights than video can. HDR is an effort to increase the intensity and range of that detail as well as provide a richer range of shades for colors displayed by a screen. That increase in both leads to a better sense of texture.

Image on computer screen
HDR is an effort to increase the intensity and range of that detail as well as provide a richer range of shades for colors displayed by a screen.

During a recent production, a Spanish based production company, Góndola Films, that specializes in human interest documentaries decided to use HDR. “…The broad color spectrum available through HDR allows us to create more attractive visions of our world… and AJA’s Io 4K Plus was essential in helping us achieve this with ‘A Light in the Darkness,’” shared director and editor José M. Borrell.

HDR workflow

HDR can be tricky, because it doesn’t share the same workflow as SDR. There are two aspects of achieving an HDR workflow: software and hardware. When addressing the software component, you will need an application that is able to accomodate HDR video. Many major video editing applications are able to work with HDR already. Because it’s at the center of new technology, HDR has been the focus of many recent updates.

When it comes to hardware, AJA offers a long list of HDR-ready tools and solutions. To monitor an HDR signal, use Mini-Converters like the Hi5-4K-Plus and Hi5-12G which trigger a display to display that signal correctly. That will insure you are always seeing the best out of the tools you have. When you need an I/O from computer to an HDR capable display, look to the AJA Io 4K Plus for Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and KONA 4 and KONA 5 for PCIe solutions for workstations and TB chassis use. This is essential for editors who need to properly monitor HDR as they manipulate it.

For digital recorders or players that can capture or play out HDR in real time, there’s the Ki Pro Ultra Plus. For real time transform tools it’s the FS-HDR, which handles HDR to SDR, SDR to HDR and HDR to HDR transforms. And lastly, for truly accurate monitoring and analysis of an HDR image, it’s the AJA HDR Image Analyzer.

When asked about the hardware they used for “A Light in the Darkness,” director and editor Borrell said “Io 4K Plus was a crucial part of our workflow, providing greater flexibility to use vivid color to craft an impactful story. It also lowered our overall costs, giving us more creative control throughout production and post, and simplified efficient clean up work in post.”

Io 4K Plus
“Io 4K Plus was a crucial part of our workflow, providing greater flexibility to use vivid color to craft an impactful story.”

HDR is an appealing prospect. With 142 channels worldwide already supporting 4K and/or HDR and outlets like Netflix making it a necessary deliverable, it’s hard to look past. Consider your best shot with 12 more stops of dynamic range and more brilliant colors, FS-HDR can read your camera log files and transfer all that gorgeous source into HDR in real time. Add in that increased demand and it might cost you not to produce HDR in the long term. Just remember that the workflow does not need to be complicated once you have the right equipment. To learn more about how to empower your workflow with HDR using AJA products, visit www.aja.com/solutions/hdr.

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AJA
AJA develops an extensive range of solutions for the professional video and audio market, from conversion devices to I/O solutions, digital recorders, cameras and more.