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When I watch content on my HDR compatible projector...

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all!

I'm working on a series of video programs all about enabling the latest entertainment experiences with pre-existing or affordable equipment.

To prevent me from sticking my foot in my mouth, I wanted to ask you all a couple of questions to see if some of my thoughts hold merit, or if I'm way off base!

1. Is projector HDR real, or is it more a battle of tone mapping technologies to have that HDR compatibility stamp of approval?

2. If you own an HDR projector, do you find content looks better when content is in SDR, in HDR, or is it about the same? I realize there are different models, etc. Just looking to see if there is an industry norm users have come to expect. I added a poll.

PLEASE COMMENT WITH THE NATURE OF YOUR PROJECTOR: LCD, LED, DLP, Laser, etc. This probably influences things too - I hadn't considered that.

Thanks in advance!

Regards,
Enterfrize
 

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HDR is considerably better both in games and in films/tv, blacks are blacker, colours are more vibrant. The Expanse on Amazon Prime is a fabulous show case for HDR due to all the black (space) and vibrant lighting, (explosions etc), watch one episode in each SDR/HDR and judge yourself!
 

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HDR is considerably better both in games and in films/tv, blacks are blacker, colours are more vibrant. The Expanse on Amazon Prime is a fabulous show case for HDR due to all the black (space) and vibrant lighting, (explosions etc), watch one episode in each SDR/HDR and judge yourself!
What projector are you using?
 

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I answered they are about the same, but there are too many variables so it's really not the right answer. UHD content does look better but not because of HDR. It's mostly the higher bandwidth of the content that makes it look better not because of HDR. I have a BenQ HT3550 and an Epson 5050ub both together in the same bat cave room. Done right with good tone mapping of course HDR (along with the other aspect of the UHD format) it looks better but in truth it's tone mapped to SDR as projectors can't display HDR as it's mastered.
 
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HDR looks miles better on my JVC RS540. Really depends on the tone mapping curves/solution though, but I’d say that’s somewhat true of HDR on any device, as few HDR TVs can display the level of brightness that a mastering monitor can achieve.
 

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I just upgraded from a Sony VPL-VW600ES lamp-based SDR projector to the 915ES laser projector.

The 915 only handles HDR10 & HLG, no HDR10+ or DolbyVision. Nor does it do true dynamic tone mapping. It does have a "Dynamic HDR Enhancer" with variable "strength" setting which is supposedly Sony's approach to tone mapping.

I would have preferred a unit that handles all the HDR flavors, but grew tired of waiting for the perfect unit. Based on my experience with the 600, I was confident the 915 would look good.

And I was right. I adored the image from my 600, but the 915's is much better, brighter, sharper. When fed UHD/HDR content, the image pops nicely, but SDR also looks better.

So, based on a sample size of one, I would say yes, HDR in projection is real, even when it's not full-blown state-of-the-art handles-all-formats HDR.
 

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Hdr can look great on a projector. Jvc x790r hdr can look great with the right tone mapping. I thought it even looked better then most lcd tv with hdr since there’s no blooming.
 

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No. HDR is a scam and a myth. It was developed by Russian trolls in the basement of a DC pizza restaurant to get fat American rubes to buy overpriced made in China electronics that spy on them and send their info to the CCP just like Tik Tok.
 
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At the risk of being wrong, at least I'll make an attempt to contribute what I've managed to learn and conclude over a year or so, regarding HDR for projectors.

Let's be honest, HDR is not 'blacker', whoever told you that is wrong, we're talking SDR vs. HDR here, so let's keep it to format vs. format, not different masters for content.
SDR has perfectly fine black levels, i.e. 0 nits, HDR is no different, but HDR improves the shadow detail, due to the increased data levels since it's 10-bit, and not 8-bit like SDR.
There's a larger patch of dark gray data levels available, making it possible to render finer gradual shadow details vs. SDR, where shadow details are 'clipped', if you will.
I just need to point out, there are no 'HDR' projectors available, have you ever seen projector shipping box, certified with UHD Alliance's 'Ultra-HD Premium' certification?

I guess you haven't, because there are none, OLED's back in the day had this certification, where one criteria to meet was 560 nits or higher, if I recall correctly.
No projector can produce 560 nits, at best maybe 150, depending on screen size? Needless to say, there isn't enough punch in the image to replicate flat panel HDR.
HDR is really about the brightness, the large gap between dark and bright, the dynamic aspect of the brightness information in the image, the larger the gap, the better.
Projectors are still stuck with a low brightness output, so the only solution to be able to watch HDR mastered content, is to tone map the brightness down to its levels.

Please note, I said be able to watch not that it really is HDR you are watching, because it's not, it might be better than SDR, i.e. brighter, but it's not true HDR.
Ask yourself, if comparing a $499 flat panel to a $2499 OLED, which panel would you say produces the best HDR, or is truest to the content, replicating true HDR?
The $499 panel might have all the stickers, but it's really not delivering, one thing most seem to forget is that OLED is amazing with SDR too, yielding an amazing black.

Look, I'm not here saying HDR content looks bad on projectors, but just don't expect it to be HDR, if you know what I mean.
Some projectors have a decent amount of colors, much similar to many flat panels, and can produce blacks as good as we know projectors can, but lacks in brightness.
I'm sure you'd be fully satisfied with the brightness if you can control your environment, but again, put an OLED or high-end LCD in for comparison, and you'd think differently.
It's up to preference, do you like a larger image, or a smaller image with better quality, I don't think anyone here could argue that a projector has a better image than an OLED.

Then there's another factor, how good is your tone mapping?
Certainly, no tone mapping that's built-in a projector is good enough, everyone can agree on that, at least the ones who researched enough.
You'll need either a Lumagen Radiance Pro (external video processor) or a madVR Envy (external processor) or an HTPC with madVR software installed.
All these solutions offers the best dynamic tone mapping currently available, JVC has frame-by-frame tone mapping in their 4K projectors, but not near as good/customizable.

Then there's another concern, when do you know that you have a great image? When do you know your image is up to par with reference? What is reference?
Enthusiasts calibrate their stuff, both audio and video, and with SDR we have a standard where we calibrate against, but with HDR, can you really do that?
If you ever tinkered with madVR for PC, you would know what a struggle it is to adhere to some sort of reference without steer away due to preference of the final image.
I would say HDR for projectors is more about preference, much similar to which picture mode looks best on the TV, you end up using what you like the most.
SDR is not quite similar in that same way, it has a more solid, frame-to-frame performance, rarely would I personally look at SDR content and say "No, that looks wrong!".
It's because SDR has been mastered to the brightness range available to projectors, but with HDR, I find myself having to tweak and tweak, never really being satisfied.
It might differ from person to person, but I would vote for SDR for projectors for the least amount of hassle, tweaking, meddling with settings on a title-to-title basis.

Projector: JVC X7900/X790R/RS540, lamp-based.
I voted SDR, I'm an honest person, and no, it's not real.
 

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I suppose you have to define what "real HDR" is. If you define it as the full HDR spec which calls for 10,000 nit peak brightness, not even televisions can meet that. If you define it with peak nits in actual content, about 4000 nits is needed, which still isn't found on TVs. According to Rtings, the Samsung Terrace can do about 1800 nits. Most other TVs top out around 1000 nits, with the average seeming to be around the 500-600 range, with the worst TVs doing about 180 nits.

So for a 120" screen, one of the brightest home theater projectors I know of is the BenQ LK990. Paired with a 120" 1.2 gain screen, it can do about 120Fl, or 350 nits according to the ProjectorCentral.com calculator. Pair it with a DaLite HiPower with a gain of 2.8 (no longer available), and we can reach about 950 nits for an experience that rivals the better TVs. A JVC NX9 can do 267 nits on the same screen. (130nits on a 1.2 gain screen)

Given that SDR has a peak of about 100 nits, by the numbers there can be a small HDR advantage with the right combination of projector and screen. But it shouldn't be that noticeable...

Which begs the question, is the HDR content that does look better even on projectors really HDR, or is it simply a boost in saturation and contrast?

On my projector (Mitsubishi HC4000), I've played around with HDR using MadVR, and it does look different, maybe even better. But I don't know that it is a difference in highlights, or just a difference in the way the highlights are presented, or just a saturation/contrast boost.
 

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I really don’t understand why they make HDR and not have a way to just turn it off. Drives me crazy I have to jump though 10 million hoops to make the picture look close to what I believe to be right. Unless I want to spend 5k+ on a plug and play video scaler/tone mapper. Luckily I build computers and servers and have a full server to hold all my movies and can run them through Madvr. But there again I have to make this change and adjust that, use this program to load this other program. I’m getting old and just want to be able to sit down and push play and it work. Not spend hours and hours tinkering to watch a movie. On top of all that there isn’t a standard on HDR they are not all mastered to the same nits. You can’t calibrate to one standard like SDR and know your good. Like the movie MEG holy crap it looks awful with out tone mapping. I would be happy paying 500-1k for something that could sit between my player and projector that could just do tone mapping and have a few buttons on a remote to adjust it based on each movie.

To me HDR is something they came out to make us buy new gear just like 4k but this one is still in BETA with no signs of getting a working product.

Sorry for the rant I’m just a little frustrated.
 

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No. Projectors are inherently not high dynamic range devices mainly because they do not have local dimming ability.

SDR format already generally exceeds the dynamic range of most projection setups.

Now, the HDR version of some film may look better than the SDR version, but that all comes down to a few factors, none of which are "because of HDR".

The HDR version of a film is usually 4K resolution and also a wider color gamut, but neither of these 2 factors are HDR. Remember, HDR is a gamma which lets the master define a high dynamic range mainly for bright highlights. HDR merely defines a larger luminance range.

You could certainly have 4K BT.2020 SDR for example.

The other big reason could simply be the particular mastering of the film. Many HDR releases are remasters of much older SDR releases, and the studio simply did a better job on the HDR remaster. This doesn't mean the HDR format is better (for a projector), it just means they did a more pleasing job on the HDR master compared to the SDR master.

I think the ultimate proof of this is to simply take a look at the output of a Lumagen or madVR. These softwares output an SDR picture format and look excellent. There is no reason the SDR master couldn't just look like that right from the studio as it's all within the SDR image format's capabilities.


So I conclude that No, HDR in projection is not real because you can achieve the exact same looking image with an SDR format signal.

In order for HDR to be "real" IMO you would need to have some video that cannot be properly represented in the SDR format.

There are videos like this in DolbyVision format and when viewed on an OLED, they produce an image with such dynamic range that the SDR format would not be suited to store or present it in such a way.
 

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There are two things being discussed here. The title says one thing but the poll says another and they are quite different.
  1. Is HDR on a projector real?
  2. Is HDR content on your projector better than SDR?
I don't think anyone will claim that HDR on a projector is real. A few posts here have made that abundantly clear. Those same posts have also stated that when a movie is presented in HDR it is a lot of times better than the SDR counterpart. It's not "real" HDR but it is subjectively a better experience. Honestly, we probably need a different name for all of this. HDR is "high dynamic range" and projectors just can't hit that. But included in that 4K HDR format are other goodies that projectors can handle. Bah, I'm just repeating what has already been said.

HDR on a projector isn't real. Movies packaged in what the 4K HDR format offers are better. We're not going to see 4k SDR BT2020 blu rays and on streaming (for the most part). It just doesn't make sense. Its going to be up to projector companies to tone map the high dynamic range so we can get the other goodies and not ruin the picture. If done well, then yes it's better than the traditional SDR format.
 

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There are two things being discussed here. The title says one thing but the poll says another and they are quite different.
  1. Is HDR on a projector real?
  2. Is HDR content on your projector better than SDR?
I don't think anyone will claim that HDR on a projector is real.
I agree with this. I voted that HDR content looks better, because it does. But I went into my new projector purchase knowing that PJs can't do Real HDR with a capital R. That would be nice, but at this point, I'm happy with a PJ that can handle HDR. Before, I had to tweak the source device (UHD Blu-ray player) to send something that would look reasonable when projected.
 

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I would argue that SDR is probably best simply because HDR hasn’t a fixed set of parameters like SDR has so you can’t really calibrate it the same. For example I throw on a standard 1080P bluray and I know what I see is exactly what the director wanted because it’s been professionally calibrated but with HDR it’s guesswork and even then you have in the case of the Epson a slider to adjust the HDR brightness which is another bit of guesswork.

That said I prefer the wider colour palette of HDR but to be honest I don’t mind watching either.
 

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And JVC stepped in thinking they solved it, lol, it's all about the money.
Well I think you will find that Lumagen and MadVR would say different but either way all are a compromise because until the film industry decide to standardise HDR it will never be as close to director intended as SDR currently is.
 
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