Watching HDR movies on a PC

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  • #53556
    phobiabear

    My question is, if you were to get a hypothetical actual movie playing on your PC, barring all the DRM drudgery, how exactly do you set the HDR up correctly? I assume you have to flick the “Play HDR games and apps” switch in the Windows settings? The one that makes everything look all washed out and fugly? The only content I’ve seen that actually felt proper HDR were games that didn’t require that Windows software setting enabled so it worries me to turn it on for movies. The SDR Content Balance setting doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to me, I just have it maxed out to try to offset some of the dullness when the HDR is on.

    For 4K films that advertise HDR, does the HDR only really work through a traditional player and TV setup or would it still be an improvement on the CHG70 (I understand its a bit sub-par to actual TV HDR) when enabled? And if not, does watching a 4K UHD HDR movie in SDR mode make it look “worse” regardless because its designed for HDR? Like trying to watch a 3D movie or VR without glasses

    #53561
    PCM2

    Hi again phobiabear,

    Technical queries are technically against the forum rules, so I don’t want this to set a precedent for other users who will start taking liberties with really tedious technical queries. 🙂 But I think this is an important topic to cover and I know other users wonder about how HDR movie content is handled on a PC.

    You would indeed need to have an HDR capable monitor such as your Samsung C27HG70 and have a system which supports HDR – with the HDR switch in Windows set correctly. For reference, pulled from a recent review of an HDR model (AOC AG273QCX).

    “As of the latest Windows 10 update, relevant HDR settings in Windows are found in ‘Windows HD Color settings’ which can be accessed via ‘Display settings’ (right click the desktop). Most game titles will activate HDR correctly when the appropriate in-game setting is selected. A minority of game titles that support HDR will only run in HDR if the setting is active in Windows as well. Specifically, the toggle which says ‘Play HDR games and apps’. If you want to view HDR movies on a compatible web browser, for example, you’d also need to activate the ‘Stream HDR Video’ setting. These settings are shown below. Also note that there’s a slider that allows you to adjust the overall balance of SDR content if HDR is active in Windows.”

    Windows HD color settings

    Despite the seemingly contradictory description in Windows, the SDR content appearance slider is only for SDR content and doesn’t affect HDR content. It’s basically a digital brightness slider as we describe in our reviews of HDR-capable screens. If you’re seeing it clearly affect your supposed HDR content and it looks “washed out” or generally lifeless no matter what you do, it’s almost certainly not running in proper HDR. I don’t recall this slider affecting Tomb Raider running HDR, for example.

    To display HDR video content you need to be using a web browser or software that’s specifically HDR compatible. You can see some examples of HDR content looking as it should on YouTube. You just need to use an HDR capable browser such as a recent version of Google Chrome. You will see the resolution listed as an HDR resolution in the settings (cog icon) on the video if it’s working correctly. The only other HDR movie or video content I’ve observed myself is using the Windows 10 Netflix app. I’m not sure if you can run Netflix HDR through a compatible browser now. I don’t have an HDR subscription for Netflix any more so I can’t test that out (edit: I do now, but it seems the app works more reliably for HDR content so I’d recommend using this).

    You’d need to do a wider search on the internet for which other software solutions allow viewing of HDR movie content, but you can certainly do this on the PC if everything is set up correctly both on the hardware and software level. I welcome any findings if you’ve worked out how to get your content working properly in HDR. Because it very much sounds as if you’re just viewing it as SDR content currently.

    #61380
    PCM2

    A few important additions to this thread, as this has caught some users out:

    1) The monitor will need to support (at least) HDCP 2.2, but this has become as good as standard on recent HDR-capable monitor via DP 1.4, HDMI. 2.0 and later revisions. It’s commonly included on so-called ‘DP 1.2a+’ ports, too, which means it’s DisplayPort 1.2 + Adaptive-Sync + HDR featureset.

    2) In addition to the hardware side of things such as an HDR-capable monitor and system, you’ll also need to make sure you intall the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) pack from Microsoft via the Windows App store. I’m very surprised this isn’t bundled with Windows 10 or doesn’t come standard with an update. And that they’re charging a small fee for it.

    3) The software will need to support HDR. Some examples of where HDR content can be enjoyed would be YouTube on Google Chrome, Netflix via the Windows app (or via a compatible browser, but the app usually works best) or Amazon Prime Video using a Firestick. Unfortunately Amazon Prime Video doesn’t currently support HDR directly via a web browser.

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