Upload High Dynamic Range (HDR) videos

You can upload High Dynamic Range (HDR) videos to YouTube. HDR videos show higher contrast with more colours than standard digital video.

Viewers can watch HDR videos on compatible mobile devices and HDR TVs. They can also stream HDR videos using Chromecast Ultra to an HDR TV. Viewers will see 'HDR' after each quality option in the video player (for example, 1080p HDR).

Viewers watching on non-HDR devices will see the video as a standard dynamic range (SDR) video.

Upload HDR videos

HDR videos must have HDR metadata in the codec or container to be played back properly on YouTube. The most reliable way to properly record the metadata is to export from a supported app.

If you can't export standard HDR metadata, then you can use the YouTube HDR metadata tool to add HDR metadata to a video. This tool will only work correctly if your video was graded using a HDR transfer function.

Note: If you aren't sure whether your video was graded using a HDR transfer function, using this tool will badly distort your videos. Many videos with 'HDR' in the title are not graded with a HDR transfer function. This tool will not work on those videos. Don't use the YouTube HDR metadata tool if you aren't familiar with colour grading or didn't grade your own video in HDR.

If you're grading your video, grade in Rec. 2020 with PQ or HLG. Using a different configuration, including DCI P3, will produce incorrect results.

Once a video has been properly marked as HDR, uploading it follows the usual process of uploading a video. YouTube will detect the HDR metadata and process it, producing HDR transcodes for HDR devices and an SDR downconversion for other devices.

Note: HDR videos currently can't be edited with YouTube Web editor.

HDR video requirements

When you upload a video, YouTube supports all resolutions and will automatically convert HDR video to SDR videos when necessary.

Upload requirements

Resolution 720p, 1080p, 1440p, 2160p
For best results, use UHD rather than DCI widths (for example, 3840x1600 instead of 4096x1716).
Frame rate 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 48, 50, 59.94, 60
Colour depth 10 bits or 12 bits
Colour primaries Rec. 2020
Colour matrix Rec. 2020 non-constant luminance
EOTF PQ or HLG (Rec. 2100)
Video bitrate For H.264, use the recommended upload encoding setting
Audio Same as the recommended upload encoding setting

HDR video file encoding

These containers have been tested to work:

  • MOV/QuickTime
  • MP4
  • MKV

These codecs are recommended, as they support 10-bit encoding with HDR metadata and deliver high quality at reasonable bitrates:

  • VP9 profile 2
  • AV1
  • HEVC/H.265

These codecs also work, but require very high bitrates to achieve high quality, which may result in longer upload and processing times:

  • ProRes 422
  • ProRes 4444
  • H.264 10-bit

HDR metadata

To be processed, HDR videos must be tagged with the correct:
  • Transfer function (PQ or HLG)
  • Colour primaries (Rec. 2020)
  • Matrix (Rec. 2020 non-constant luminance)
HDR videos using PQ signalling should also contain information about the display that they were mastered on (SMPTE ST 2086 mastering metadata). They should also have details about the brightness (CEA 861-3 MaxFALL and MaxCLL). If these are missing, we use the values for the Sony BVM-X300 mastering display.
Optionally, HDR videos may contain dynamic (HDR10+) metadata as ITU-T T.35 terminal codes or as SEI headers.

HDR authoring tools 

The following are examples of tools that you can use to upload HDR videos to YouTube:

  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Final Cut Pro X

Common issues

Incorrect colour space marking

In cinema, it's common to master HDR videos in the DCI P3 colour space, with either the DCI (~D50) or D65 white points. This is not a supported format for delivery to consumer electronics. When mastering, choose Rec. 2020 colour primaries (the Rec. 2100 standard implies Rec. 2020 colour in many apps).
A common mistake is to master in P3, then tag the result using Rec. 2020 primaries. Doing so will result in an oversaturated look with shifted hues.

More control over SDR conversion

YouTube's automated SDR downconversion is a convenient choice that can deliver good results with no effort. However, on challenging clips, it might not deliver the perfect result. We're working on improving automated SDR downconversion so that it works well for all material.
It's possible to give a hint to YouTube's SDR downconversion in the form of a 3D Look-Up Table or LUT. To produce this LUT:
  1. Load your HDR video into a colour-grading app without applying any colour management.
  2. Set your mastering display to Rec. 709 colour and Gamma 2.4 transfer function.
  3. Apply an existing LUT that converts from Rec. 2020 + ST. 2084 to Rec. 709. Then in subsequent nodes, change primary correctors, curves and keys to get the look that you want.
  4. Export the LUT in the .cube format to the same folder as the HDR video.
  5. Select both the LUT and the HDR video, and drag and drop them on the metadata tool.

The tool will apply metadata for the BVM-X300 and also pack in the LUT to give hints to the SDR downconversion.

Note: Currently, there is no spatial or temporal control for hinting the SDR downconversion. Power windows and keys involving controls like Blur won't work properly, nor will adjustments that apply to individual shots.

Noise in the shadows

When mastering in PQ (ST 2084), much of the signal range is devoted to shadow detail. Digital intermediate codecs like ProRes and DNxHR retain detail across the image range. Your videos may have noise in darker image regions that's visually masked by highlights in the image.
YouTube's video processing may remove some noise to achieve streaming bitrates. You can get more control by denoising your video before rendering it for upload. Denoising can also help if your video looks too 'compressed' when streamed.
We're always working to improve the quality of YouTube videos, including handling this case better.

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