An Introduction to HDR

(8 customer reviews)


High Dynamic Range (HDR) has been available to consumers since 2016 and has been widely adopted in media and entertainment. But, do you really know what HDR is? This course, taught by Kevin Shaw, is much more than a tutorial. Structured classes will help you master HDR, learn about HDR displays, and how to grade HDR content. You’ll understand the different HDR formats, including Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG. While most of the course aims to be application-agnostic (HDR theory and not button pushing), you will also learn how to set up and grade HDR in DaVinci Resolve.

HDR is unanimously claimed as better, but it significantly affects workflow from capture and mastering through to delivery and display. With a deeper knowledge of HDR  workflows, formats, and display technologies, you can better invest, implement and explore the possibilities the tech brings. Learn to differentiate good HDR from poor HDR and showcase HDR from technical HDR.

Note: this training is exclusively available for standalone purchase in the fxphd store and is not included with an fxphd membership.


Aim of the course: learn new skills for HDR

This course is much more than a one-off tutorial. Learn to take full advantage of new workflows and develop new skills for high dynamic range content. Experience how lighting, editing and grading are affected, and which tools are most useful to achieve bigger, better color. Learn the three essential workflows for HDR mastering. The course covers critical concepts and practical considerations for HDR production, workflow, grading, mastering, distribution, and viewing. You will also build your vocabulary around  HDR  and communicate effectively in technical and creative related discussion.

Course targeted towards colorists, VFX artists, DIT, editors, and more

This is an introductory level course ideal for colorists, engineers, cinematographers, DITs, VFX artists, and editors involved in HDR pre-production, production and post-production. It’s also useful for producers, directors and designers as they encounter demand for HDR, Dolby vision, UHD Premium, Rec 2020, and wide color gamut. If you are looking for a structured HDR tutorial, this course is for you.

An HDR display is useful for the practical exercises, but not necessary for the course. Ideally, you’ll want to take this course before investing in HDR if you can, as it will save you time and money! The course utilizes Resolve to explain many of the principles but you don’t need to be an experienced colorist to get a lot of information out of the course.

Materials provided in the downloads for the course

You will receive instruction in 13 class movies filmed at Dolby London, as well as three Resolve archives with projects and media to grade.

  • Project 1 has test images and raw content from the BlackMagic Design BMPCC 6k camera
  • Project 2 is an SDR quicktime promo that you will trim to HDR
  • Project 3 is more than 40 scenes of professionally shot Red (.r3d) footage from the documentary Namibia – The Spirit of Wilderness ( ©Busch Media Group)

This course includes over 7.5 hours of recorded sessions with practical demonstrations using DaVinci Resolve for on-demand playback and practice.


Once you purchase this course, you can immediately download all class instruction videos. This course is not part of the normal fxphd membership and does not include access to our discussion forums or VPN software. Footage supplied with the course may only be used for learning (use in commercial or non-commercial projects is prohibited).

Kevin Shaw, CSI is a consultant, instructor and colourist with over 35 years of experience. He is currently President of Colorist Society International (CSI), co-founder of the International Colorist Academy (ICA), an Academy ACES mentor, Dolby Vision HDR consultant Xrite Coloratti and certified BMD Resolve 16 trainer. He is a member of the Professional Video Alliance (PVA) and a trained display calibration expert.

In 2009, he co-founded the International Colorist Academy to share his knowledge and experiences with the growing new generation of software colorists. In 2016 he co-founded Colorist Society International (CSI), which is the first organisation to represent professional motion picture colorists and he is currently serving as President. Since 2017 he has focused on HDR display work and is excited about the new opportunities that brings.

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What makes HDR displays different? Will they survive in the long term? We define dynamic range, high dynamic (HDR) range and many other terms that are related or confused with HDR. Introducing the electro-optical transfer function (EOTF) and working with HDR scopes.


Why is HDR so important? Is HDR future proof? Do you need an HDR display on set, in VFX , editing and grading? What HDR display is right for you today? Learn about HDR at home and in the cinema, and about the available HDR display technologies. Know the pros and cons of OLEDs and LCDs and the different types of each. Understand the UHD Premium and Dolby Vision specifications and the differences between HDR reference displays and consumer displays. How to use HDR flags and how to connect HDR displays. See how to set up HDR reference displays for grading and compare SDR and HDR signals.


Why not continue to use gamma? Why is grading HDR is fundamentally different to SDR? How can HDR make better pictures? Understand the EOTFs – PQ (ST 2084) and HLG and why we need both of them. Consider the changes to bit depth, brightness, black level, and code values required by HDR. Learn how to optimize the HDR scopes. Introducing color management and ACES workflows. Learn to differentiate showcase HDR from “ordinary” HDR and consider the implications of creative intent on HDR mastering.


Understand display color spaces and how to use wide color gamut. Working with BT. 2020. Learn to create evergreen masters. Explore the relationship between brightness and saturation and why that is important for HDR. Recognize different HDR formats and mis-matched display settings. Discover how to simulate HDR on a BT.709 display.


Why can’t we have a single HDR format? How might HDR change in the future? Learn about all the different HDR formats in use. Understand metadata and why HDR needs it. Get familiar with HDR workflows that deliver, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. Know the SMPTE standards for HDR, delivery and mastering specifics and typical display standards from the UHD Alliance, Vesa and Dolby.


What content can be mastered as HDR? Learn about shooting, editing, VFX and grading HDR. Setup preferences and settings for an HDR project in BMD Resolve.


What is color management? How does it help Look Development? Get advice on session management. Use color science to get from camera to display formats. Understand the difference between display referred and scene referred workflows and how they affect grading. Learn about using, LUTs, transforms and converting SDR grades to HDR. Learn color management for HDR and get started with HDR grading. Discover the beauty of ACES and how to grade using it. Know the benefits of an evergreen archival master.


What are the limitations? How do we preserve artistic intent? Set up color managed projects to convert SDR masters to HDR. This is the first of our three essential workflows. Follow along with the BT. 709 promo project provided. Learn to exploit spectral highlights, manage clipped whites and protect subtitles. Understand color volume, HDR brightness and saturation. Control focus points and distractions.


The second essential workflow starts with the SDR grade, but also delivers HDR. Follow along with the project provided, containing more than 40 scenes of professionally shot Red (.r3d) footage from the documentary “Namibia – The Spirit of Wilderness“ (c) Busch Media Group”. Understand the benefits of grading with scene referred color management. Practice ACES for multiple deliverables. Learn how to make HDR trims whilst keeping the approved artistic intent. Try techniques for dark shadows, bright backgrounds, and colorful highlights. Understand when to use HDR for effect and what increased color volume looks like. Learn to deliver different HDR formats from the evergreen master.


The third essential workflow starts with the HDR grade and still delivers SDR formats as well. Practice working on HDR skies, detail and lighting effects. Manage the average picture level (APL) to optimize both the HDR and SDR masters. Work with alternative ways to tone map and trim HDR to SDR.


Discover techniques to minimize distractions and optimize HDR. Learn the main differences between SDR and HDR grading. Manage noise, black clipping, dark night scenes, bright exterior scenes, water, contrast and white clipping.


How long does it take to grade HDR? Learn about file naming conventions. Understand Resolve export settings, HDR and SDR delivery formats.


What do you get with a Dolby Vision license? What grading software supports Dolby Vision? Learn the Dolby Vision workflow, metadata and trims. Setup a Dolby Vision project in Resolve, analyze shots, tone map with the iCMU. and see the Dolby Vision trim tools in action. If you have a Dolby Vision License you can also practice Dolby Vision trims.