Understanding HDR and standards like HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision

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A lot of new TVs have the HDR feature, and brands are making sure that they use HDR in their marketing material. Earlier, the feature was limited to just high-end 4K TVs, but of late, even cheaper-priced TVs come with the HDR feature. But what exactly is HDR and how does it help in improving the TV’s picture quality?

  • HDR: It stands for High Dynamic Range. It is among the greatest improvements TVs have seen in a long time. TVs with HDR can display deeper colours, a wider colour gamut, and can display much higher brightness. All of this results in more immersive video quality compared to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) TVs. HDR allows your device, say a TV, to understand more shades of colours, or a higher range of colours, which can then be dynamically reproduced when you watch content on the screen. HDR also lets your TV understand various contrast levels better in the content you watch, making the device capable of reproducing much better quality pictures and videos compared to SDR.
  • HDR scene: An HDR scene comes with metadata. Metadata is a set of information that helps a display device to show the content in an optimal manner. Metadata consists of RGB colour primaries, white point, brightness range, MaxCLL (Maximum Content Light Level), and MaxFALL (Maximum Frame-Average Light Level). There are two types of HDR metadata: Static and Dynamic. Static HDR metadata means that colour range and brightness levels remain the same for all the scenes and frames in a video file. The tone mapping of the whole video is constant. However, in real life, every scene might have different colour ranges and brightness levels. That’s where Dynamic HDR metadata comes in. Tone mapping in videos with dynamic HDR metadata changes on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis, which accurately depicts real-life scenarios.
  • HDR10: It is an open-source certification that can be considered the entry level HDR certification. This is likely the certification that you will find on many modern budget TVs that claim to be HDR-compliant. HDR10 is not completely redundant, but it doesn’t offer a lot of enhancement to your picture quality in today’s. With HDR10, devices provide ‘Static Metadata’ to your display, basically telling it how bright a movie should be based on two points of reference.
  • HDR10+ : HDR10+ fixes the main problem with HDR10 – and uses something called Dynamic Metadata. As the name suggests, Dynamic Metadata allows your display to gauge brightness levels on a scene-by-scene, or a frame-by-frame basis. Now, the two-point reference system can adapt according to what is on the screen at that point in a movie or episode, offering a more dynamically changing HDR experience that can offer a much superior viewing experience compared to HDR10.
  • Dolby Vision: The best HDR certification right now for TVs and displays is Dolby Vision. It uses Dynamic Metadata as well to allow the brightness and contrast levels to be adjusted per frame or scene in content, enhancing your watching experience by making content more realistic and pleasing to watch. Dolby Vision is also a paid certification, which means that for every TV with a Dolby Vision certification, the manufacturer has to pay a sum of money as royalty fees. A Dolby Vision certification also has a set of specification requirements, which are necessary to make the most out of HDR content. Because of this, it would be really difficult for manufacturers to make an inferior TV with Dolby Vision. Instead the certification is considered by many to be a mark of good image quality. This also makes Dolby Vision TVs more expensive compared to HDR10/HDR10+ TVs.