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An Introduction to Grading HDR Video by Marc Bach

We have done very little HDR to date at FCP.co towers, well to be honest, none. However, we do know somebody who has edited in HDR in Final Cut Pro X. Marc Bach gets us up to speed quickly with his recommendations about grading within the new extended dynamic range.


Final Cut Pro X 10.4 introduced a new High Dynamic Range (HDR) grading workflow. There were initially some complaints about how the color wheels felt in HDR as opposed to SDR. However, those have largely been resolved by the update in 10.4.1. While it is nice to have the toolset, people also need proper monitoring for HDR grading. At the LumaForge office, we solved this with an LG E7 television.

To play HDR out of Final Cut Pro X, we had to purchase an AJA I/O 4K Plus. HDMI straight out of an iMac doesn't send the necessary metadata to the television. Once we got the LG E7, AJA I/O 4K Plus, and FCPX working together, we then had to figure out how to actually grade the stuff.

It's easy enough to set your Library to Wide Color Gamut HDR, and to choose Rec. 2020 HLG or Rec. 2020 PQ as your Timeline Color Space. But then what?

Since Marc Bach had been color grading in HDR for a while, I gave him a call. We spent about an hour on the phone. It became clear that there are guidelines, but not hard and fast rules. We're in the early years of High Dynamic Range video as an art form.

During his Faster, Together presentation, Marc revealed a few things people should consider when coloring in HDR. For example, the human eye can see 24 stops of dynamic range total. However, it can only perceive 12 stops of dynamic range at once. As HDR monitors become brighter, they'll surpass the capabilities of the human eye. Imagine grading one scene for broad daylight, and then lowering the 12 stop range as the scene turns suddenly to night.

Marc does an excellent job covering this and other ideas in his presentation. It's well worth the watch if you are wanting to approach HDR as an art rather than a technical hurdle.

To see more from the Faster, Together Stage, go to fastertogether.com


patrick southernPatrick taught FCPX as a Trainer at an Apple Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma when it came out in 2011. He in now an Editor and Assistant Editor in Los Angeles and is Chief Workflow Officer at LumaForge.

You can follow him on Twitter @jpsouthern


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