YouTube launches HDR for live streams
YouTube has announced that creators can now live stream their content in HDR. Although Google began rolling out HDR support for recorded videos (very, very slowly) back in 2017, this is the first time that live streams have been able to show off those vivid blacks and increased color gamut.
For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few years, HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range (imaging). At its simplest, it creates deeper blacks that show off the rest of the spectrum better, but in reality, it runs far deeper, offering a more complete range of luminescence for a more natural, vivid looking picture. Streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ have used it as part of their unique sales offering, as linear broadcasters are not currently able to present their shows this way.
Now for the first time, content creators will be able to stream in full-HDR, providing they have the right equipment to do so. It won’t make a lot of difference for a head and shoulders shot in a studio, but as we can see from these sample pictures taken by Google, it can make a huge difference to landscape shots particularly.
From today, any creator using a supported encoder that renders HLG or PQ 10-bit color standards in an HLS output format can stream HDR to YouTube, in an HEVC codec, to be watched by anyone with an HDR supported device to view it on. That includes phones, tablets, televisions, and streaming sticks (of course they’ll need to be plugged into a display with HDR too). YouTube says that this is just the beginning and it will continue to revise the offer to add different encoders to the compatibility list in due course.
We’ve noted that, of the Google device range, only the Chromecast Ultra is listed as compatible, despite the newer Chromecast with Google TV supporting HDR natively. We’re looking into this, but we have a hunch that it may be added along with Stadia support, early in 2021.