Everything you need to know about YouTube’s HDR video content, including how to find HDR videos to watch, what you’ll need to watch the HDR videos and how to upload your own HDR content.
YouTube has just announced that HDR video content is now available to watch on the streaming video platform, while users can also upload their own HDR clips. It has been a long time since the company said it would get involved, way back at the start of 2016, in fact – but better late than never, right?
Read next: What is HDR?
Now that HDR can be streamed on YouTube, that means higher quality videos can be watched on hardware that supports that High Dynamic Range playback, to use its full name.
Since it is early days for the format, there aren’t a huge number of videos to watch right now, but expect the catalogue to grow. Netflix and Amazon are already streaming lots of shows and movies in HDR and Ultra HD Blu-ray can do the same, so content is there. So how do you enjoy it on YouTube?
Here’s everything you need to know about streaming HDR videos on YouTube.
YouTube HDR video: What does HDR do on YouTube?
High Dynamic Range means a greater colour palette and a greater distinction between dark and light areas on the screen. You get around one billion colours for HDR as opposed to around 16 million for normal feeds. This is great for human faces, where our eyes easily detect errors in tone, something that will be far harder when watching in HDR and should result in greater immersion.
That contrast range between black and white should also help to add realism to your viewing experience. It should mean that the variations between blacks is also greater, for clarity in darker scenes that might otherwise lump one area as pure black – good for fright night flicks then. Or PewDiePie vids, whatever you prefer.
YouTube HDR video: What HDR videos are available?
At the time of publishing, YouTube offers a special playlist for HDR videos. These are largely shot by anyone with an HDR capable camera and include things like shots of the world with music overlaid. Yup, they’re the kind of videos you see playing on a TV in a shop to show off just how good HDR can look.
This is great for getting some use out of that HDR TV you’ve splashed out on but at the moment doesn’t extend to full-on entertainment. But it’s still exciting and just the start, as anyone with an HDR capable camera can now use this as a platform to show off just what can be done.
YouTube HDR video: What TVs and streamers play YouTube in HDR?
At the moment you’ll need an HDR capable television in order to see these new YouTube videos in their full HDR glory. Expect all HDR TVs to either already have the updated YouTube app with HDR support or for it to be coming soon.
Read next: HDR TV vs Projector, which is best?
One thing to bear in mind when it comes to TVs and HDR is that picture quality will vary depending on their individual levels of brightness. So an LCD panel might be brighter than OLED, but the OLED will offer far deeper black levels for greater contrast on dark video. Thing to bear in mind if you’ve not already bought your shiny new TV with 4K and HDR capabilities.
It sounds like YouTube will be HDR 10 only compatible for now, with no word on Dolby Vision support. Dolby Vision is the better for colour reproduction – but since this means licence fees come into play and is more for end-to-end reproduction in films, YouTube has clearly opted to stick with the free HDR 10 format. Wise choice.
If you want to watch YouTube HDR content via a third party device, you have options like Sony’s new PS4 Pro or Google’s latest Chromecast Ultra, both of which will stream 4K and HDR video.
YouTube HDR video: How to upload HDR videos
If you want to get involved and upload your own HDR content you’ll need the right kit. If you have an HDR camera, great, but bear in mind you’ll need to have edited it correctly.
This can be complicated if you take into account everything that can be adjusted. Your best bet is to check out the guide by the Mystery Box guys, who have been working with Google to get the first batch of videos live.