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article imageYouTube now supports brighter, sharper high dynamic range videos

By James Walker     Nov 9, 2016 in Technology
YouTube has announced support for HDR videos. It's now possible to watch and upload HDR videos on YouTube, although an HDR display is required to take advantage of the benefits. The technology brings more vibrant colours and detailed shadows.
HDR is being billed as one of the next big shifts in display technology. New high-end televisions and computer monitors are beginning to include the feature. The hardware is currently limited by a lack of widely available content though. YouTube hopes to change that by bringing HDR support to its community of millions of creators.
Google-owned YouTube said HDR is a natural next step in its support for video and audio formats. Since its inception 11 years ago, the platform has grown to include HD and 4K resolutions, 3D output, 360-degree immersive videos and support for real time livestreaming. HDR adds another technology to the list, reinforcing YouTube's position as a leader in online entertainment.
When viewed on a compatible display, HDR (High Dynamic Range) videos have noticeably more vibrant colours and sharper, detailed shadows. HDR also lifts the contrast of the scene and creates brighter highlights, adding clarity and definition to otherwise subdued footage. "Simply put, HDR unlocks the most spectacular image quality we've ever streamed," said YouTube.
Simulated HDR comparison image. SDR (left) and HDR (right)
Simulated HDR comparison image. SDR (left) and HDR (right)
In a sample image attached to YouTube's announcement post, the company demonstrated the advantages of HDR using a simulated scene. The HDR part is rendered in full colour. The saturation of the SDR (standard dynamic range) region has been reduced to show the difference between the two technologies. Because seeing true HDR colours requires a new display, this is currently the easiest way of comparing SDR and HDR.
YouTube has collaborated with channels including MysteryGuitarMan, Jacob + Katie Schwarz and Abandon Visuals to launch new content in HDR. From today, any creator is able to upload their own HDR videos from HDR-capable cameras. The process is largely the same as uploading a regular video, although some footage may require a more involved procedure. Google explained the best way of getting HDR content onto YouTube in a separate support post.
On devices that don't support HDR, videos will play in standard dynamic range mode without user intervention. On compatible devices, it's now possible to watch YouTube with a much wider colour gamut than ever before. A small but growing range of TVs are available that support the technology. More models are expected to be revealed in the next year.
"HDR adds a whole new dimension of creative freedom and visual spectacle, and we've barely scratched the surface of what this means for storytelling," said Google. "We can't wait to see the amazing videos you're going to make with HDR."
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