Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HDR10, Technicolor and HLG: HDR codecs defined


Netflix is certainly one of many locations the place you could possibly see Dolby Imaginative and prescient pop up.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Most new TVs have excessive dynamic vary functionality, which may enhance image high quality. Sadly there are a number of HDR codecs and your TV seemingly cannot decode all of them. Firms like Dolby, Technicolor, Samsung, Philips and others every have other ways to create HDR video. In idea, they’ll all coexist inside your TV, although that is not often the case. Streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, together with 4K Blu-ray discs, may help a number of codecs, although typically they solely have one or two. 

How do these a number of codecs have an effect on you? Effectively, nearly each HDR-capable TV helps the preferred format, HDR10 or “generic HDR.” Many additionally help Dolby Vision and HLG, whereas different codecs, particularly Samsung’s HDR10 Plus and Technicolor’s Advanced HDR, are simply getting began. 

In CNET’s TV opinions, each the capabilities of the TV itself and the best way HDR is used within the film or TV present have a better impression on picture high quality than the particular HDR format. However realizing your method across the completely different codecs continues to be worthwhile. Here is a tour of the HDR panorama because it stands at the moment.

  • It isn’t a full-fledged “format struggle,” it is extra like a slap struggle.
  • A number of HDR codecs can exist in a single TV.
  • Every little thing helps HDR10, however many TVs and sources can even have at the very least one of many different codecs.
  • One format would possibly look “higher” than one other on paper, however in the actual world the largest elements are the TV’s general efficiency and the content material itself.

The fundamentals

Most new TVs have the flexibility to show HDR content material, which has extra element within the vivid and darkish areas of the picture, for a better “dynamic vary” in comparison with non-HDR content material (i.e. just about all the things you have ever watched). Older content material is now known as “SDR,” or commonplace dynamic vary. HDR content material on an HDR TV can look way more punchy and vibrant than conventional content material.

For a extra detailed take a look at HDR, try How HDR works.


The dynamic vary of what is captured by the digital camera (left) and what’s attainable on SDR and HDR shows. 


Simply having an HDR TV is not sufficient. It’s important to watch particular HDR content material. With out HDR content material, your HDR TV does not actually know what to do with itself. Positive, it should look good, and perhaps even artificially increase SDR content material for maybe a slight enchancment. However to get probably the most out of your HDR TV, you want actual HDR content material. Fortunately, there’s now quite a lot of it on the market. Likelihood is your favourite new applications can be found in HDR.


  • Supported by all the things
  • Higher picture high quality potential than SDR, however maybe inferior to HDR10 Plus or Dolby Imaginative and prescient
  • Static metadata

HDR10 is as near a typical as we have. It is free to make use of for producers, so it is obtainable in all places. Each HDR TV can decode it, each HDR streamer can stream it. Just about all HDR content material has an HDR10 model, in some instances together with a extra “superior” HDR format like Dolby Imaginative and prescient, which we’ll talk about in a second.  

HDR10’s concern, in the event you can name it that, is that it has “static” metadata. Which means that there’s one HDR “look” for the complete film or present. That is actually higher than SDR content material, but it surely does not permit for, say, a very vivid scene to look its very best, nor a darkish scene its greatest, inside the similar film. This one-size-fits-all side of static metadata is ok, however does not let the content material nor the TV reside as much as its full potential. You want dynamic metadata for that, which a lot of the different codecs have. 

Static metadata is form of like if a soccer group all needed to put on the identical sized shirt. Possibly it appears good on the quarterback, and OK on the massive linebacker and the diminutive kicker, however certainly they’d all look higher with a shirt in their very own measurement.

HDR10 is not backward-compatible with SDR TVs, so it is no good for broadcast. You may discover it obtainable with streaming content material and on Extremely HD Blu-ray.

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Will you need HDR in your subsequent TV, and what’s HDR10…


HDR10 Plus

  • Championed by Samsung
  • Not broadly supported
  • Dynamic metadata
  • Probably higher picture than vanilla HDR10

As you most likely figured from the identify, HDR10 Plus is like HDR10… however plus. The plus on this case is dynamic metadata, enhancing on HDR10’s static. Which means that on a per-scene — and even per-image — foundation, the content material can present the TV with all the data it must look its very best.

The catch is… this can be a Samsung format. They’re pushing it exhausting, and regardless of promising no licensing charges (so anybody can use it principally without cost), this can be a little bit of a stumbling block. Exhausting to think about a world the place LG willingly helps a fledgling format backed by Samsung. Different TV firms are seemingly hesitant to again it for a similar cause. Sure, client electronics is as petty as junior excessive.


It is somewhat exhausting to inform from this graphic, however discover that the frames on the appropriate present completely different ranges of brightness within the sky. That is simply an instance, utilizing a typical dynamic vary picture in your commonplace dynamic vary display screen. The concept with HDR10 Plus’s dynamic metadata is {that a} filmmaker can decide the right way to greatest present every shot or scene. With HDR10’s static metadata, a single setting is used, a compromise that has to cowl the darkest and brightest scenes. 


Proper now, past Samsung, Panasonic is the one {hardware} producer supporting the format within the US, although TCL and Hisense help it in China. On the software program aspect, there’s Amazon, Warner, Common and Fox. It is unlikely this may turn out to be the usual dynamic metadata HDR format, and it appears proper now it is solely giving Samsung an excuse to not embrace Dolby Imaginative and prescient on their TVs.

For extra particulars, try What is HDR10 Plus.

Dolby Imaginative and prescient

  • Broadly supported
  • Probably the most effective picture high quality of all of the codecs
  • Much less content material than inventory HDR10

Dolby Imaginative and prescient has made an enormous push for HDR. Like HDR10 Plus, it could actually have dynamic metadata. Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon, Vudu and Apple’s iTunes help it, and you could find it on some Extremely HD Blu-rays. Points of Dolby Imaginative and prescient, like the way it handles dynamic metadata and colour, are non-obligatory for HDR formatting within the upcoming ATSC 3.0

The problem with DV is that firms need to pay Dolby to make use of it. On the plus aspect to that, Dolby will then present them the right way to make their TVs look greatest when displaying DV content material. So for some firms, that is a straightforward option to get their TVs to look higher than maybe they’d on their very own. For bigger firms (like sure Korean firms that start with S), they do not want such help and would somewhat dump cash into their very own HDR format, thanks very a lot.


It is inconceivable to indicate you need an HDR picture appears like in your present machine, because it’s SDR. That is an approximation, utilizing two SDR pictures, of what you’d see in the event you positioned an SDR and HDR TV side-by-side.


After HDR10, that is the preferred HDR format, however that does not imply it is common. Samsung is the largest holdout, for causes talked about above. Some firms would possibly solely provide Dolby Imaginative and prescient help on sure fashions. Content material-wise, there’s help from Sony, Common, Paramount, Lionsgate and the Swiss of each format struggle, Warner, plus others. That mentioned, there may be far much less Dolby Imaginative and prescient content material than there may be HDR10 content material. Not an enormous concern, however one thing to remember.


  • From BBC and NHK
  • Free to make use of
  • Broadcast pleasant

Hybrid Log Gamma was created by Britain’s BBC and Japan’s NHK. Not like the codecs we have mentioned thus far, it is really backward-compatible with SDR TVs. One sign that works on each older TVs and newer is a big deal for broadcasters. Although as you possibly can think about, it isn’t with out drawbacks. Primarily, that is by way of image high quality. Like HDR10, HLG is probably going higher than SDR, however maybe not fairly the image high quality of the opposite HDR codecs. It is a part of the upcoming ATSC 3.Zero commonplace.


A graphical illustration of an SDR and HLG sign. The vertical axis is the sign, from broadcast, cable or satellite tv for pc for instance. “0” is black, “1” is vivid white. The horizontal axis is the bodily brightness popping out of your tv. An SDR TV would see the HLG sign and assume it was “regular,” displaying a picture that had, maybe higher spotlight element. An HDR TV that is HLG-compatible would perceive what to do with the HLG sign and present that brighter data as a bodily brighter a part of the picture (i.e. how HDR usually works). 

Public Area/Inventive Commons

There’s already huge TV help. Content material continues to be within the early phases, nonetheless. If you will get the BBC’s iPlayer (as in, you are within the UK), that has HLG help. DirecTV and YouTube additionally help HLG, however there’s simply not quite a lot of content material thus far. Because it’s free, and fills an essential area of interest, anticipate to see extra HLG sooner or later.

For more information, and why it is so completely different from different strategies, try All about hybrid log gamma.

Superior HDR by Technicolor (SL-HDR1, 2 and three)

  • Not broadly supported
  • Every “taste” has its personal area of interest
  • Probably helpful, however we will see

Technicolor’s Superior HDR is available in a number of flavors: SL-HDR1 is just like HLG, in that it is absolutely backward-compatible with SDR TVs, permitting for one sign to rule all of them; SL-HDR2 has dynamic metadata like HDR10 Plus and Dolby Imaginative and prescient; SL-HDR3 makes use of HLG as a base, however provides dynamic metadata.


The trail to SDR and HDR in a single SL-HDR1 sign. The highest is the content material creation, the underside is what your TV will do with it. The SDR content material is mechanically created from the HDR sign.


There is not any content material obtainable for common viewing for the time being, however its inclusion within the upcoming ATSC 3.Zero commonplace may imply we’ll see some quickly. 

For more information on this, try What is Advanced HDR by Technicolor?

There could be just one. Or three. Or perhaps 5

Just a few issues listed below are fairly simple to guess. HDR10 is the de facto base format. Nothing is more likely to change that. Dolby Imaginative and prescient, with its huge business help, particularly on the content material aspect, is more likely to stay the “step-up” format. HDR10 Plus and SL-HDR2 may stay or acquire in acceptance, particularly since DV prices cash to implement, however they’re each lengthy pictures.

The wild card is broadcast, which goes to be an essential consider getting HDR content material to a broader viewers. HLG and SL-HDR1 (and perhaps SL-HDR3) each provide the backward-compatibility required by broadcasters. Which of these will acquire traction stays to be seen.

And in actuality, the long-term outlook is, ideally, certainly one of common playback and irrelevant content material format. Do you care in case your TV is displaying Dolby Imaginative and prescient or HDR10 Plus, so long as it appears nearly as good as attainable and identical to the opposite format? Since a TV’s HDR efficiency is nearly completely primarily based on its bodily {hardware}, so long as the content material appears good and could be proven correctly, its particular language does not matter. Effectively, does not matter so long as your TV can converse it, in fact. 

Initially printed final yr. Up to date with new details about every format.

Bought a query for Geoff? First, try all the other articles he’s written on subjects like why you shouldn’t buy expensive HDMI cablesTV resolutions explainedhow HDR works and extra.

Nonetheless have a query? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff, then try his travel photography on Instagram. He additionally thinks it’s best to try his best-selling sci-fi novel and its sequel

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