Can the Absence of HDR in Shotcut Be 'Compensated For' Using Colour Grading Tools?

I just came across a post on the Shotcut reddit (see link below) in which the author showed an example of the output of his video being desaturated because Shotcut does not support exporting to HDR (High Dynamic Range).

In the end, the person who posted the thread converted their video, using Handbrake, so solved their problem.

My question is: Can an HDR or HDR-like visual result be achieved by using Shotcut’s Colour Grading tools?

I realize that, to an extent, we are talking about issues of individual perception (and preference) here, but obviously there is a clear difference between HDR and SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) in terms of visual appearance, and that is the reason these two standards exist, and is the reason one can immediately see the differences between the two.

So, we have two clear visual reference examples of what I am talking about.

I specifically do not want this to devolve into a highly technical discussion of the differences between various codecs - I am simply trying to find out whether the Colour Grading Tools in Shotcut can provide a good, close approximation of HDR.

Thanks for any replies.

You could try the following:

  • Put the clip on 2 tracks, V1 & V2;
  • Add the “Saturation” filter to the clip on V2 with the “Level” parameter set 0;
  • Add the “Invert Colors” filter to the clip on V2;
  • Change the Blend Mode for track V2 to be “Overlay”;
  • Add the clip onto track V3;
  • Set the opacity to around 65%;
  • Try various BLEND Modes for V3 such as “Burn”, or “Hard Light”;
  • Modify the opacity value to your liking.
  • Also, Try without V2.
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Thanks for your reply, Elusien.

You could try a workflow similar to that used in live Sport when producing HDR.

  1. Apply an HDR to BT.709 transform to the timeline
  2. Edit video, adjust colour and contrast, levels etc.
  3. Once you’re happy, export BT.709 version
  4. Remove transform, leave all settings as they were for SDR and export HDR version

You will need to alter the metadata with Handbrake or FFMPEG, and it will only be 8 bit.

For the transform, it would probably need to be a LUT based on a published method of changing HDR to BT.709, like the one W3C publish.


I always learn something interesting when Simon shows up. :grinning: Is there any noticeable banding in the final HDR version since it’s coming from an 8-bit “source”?

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There will be banding as neither source nor processing is 8 bit (in Shotcut). This may be masked somewhat by the noise of the camera.

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Thanks, Simon.

Very interesting.

I will probably just try to alter the colour until I find it satisfying, and then export that result, and also save those settings as a template.

And I almost always learn something from others’ questions here; thanks for this question, Austin.

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