YouTube rolls out support for HDR videos

Video quality on YouTube is getting an upgrade today, with the launch of HDR support across the video-sharing site. HDR offers improved picture quality with higher contrast, which means you’ll see more vibrant colors as well as make out more of the image in darker, shadowy scenes. However, not many consumers will be immediately available to enjoy the new HDR videos, as the technology is still rolling out to the mass market.

Instead, this launch is about YouTube getting its site ready for that future.

However, if you happen to own an HDR-enabled TV today, you can view HDR content on select YouTube channels going live with the enhanced content, like MysteryGuitarMan, Jacob + Katie Schwarz, and Abandon Visuals, says Google. (There’s also a launch playlist available here.)


Above: SDR vs HDR comparison, simulated (via YouTube)

You can also stream HDR content to your supported device through Google’s newer Chromecast Ultra device, which debuted earlier this fall with 4K and HDR support as one of its big selling points.

HDR is something that’s only available on HDR TVs, which are still hitting the market – like Samsung’s 2016 SUHD and UHD TVs, for example. You can’t simply upgrade an old set to support HDR – you’ll have to buy a new TV. That will limit the availability of YouTube HDR in terms of real-world video viewing for the time being.

But over time, as more HDR devices will become available, Google says it will work with content partners to help them enable HDR videos on their own channels.

For creators who want to get ahead of the curve, however, YouTube is making HDR video upload a new option on its service as of Monday. The company notes it worked with the DaVinci Resolve team to make HDR video upload as simple as SDR video upload. It’s also making HDR recording gear available in its YouTube Spaces in L.A. and New York for use by creators who want to invest in this sort of high-def content.