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HDR games analysed

Oct 26, 2017
968
Yeah, playing games in HDR is often frustrating.
For me it's been "wow this looks great, I'm not touching my TV settings."
*plays any other game*
"Oh ... well that doesn't look right at all."
And then I end up trying to find a universal 'looks good for everything' TV setting that may not even exist.
 
Oct 27, 2017
18
Also worth mentioning, as something has changed but you want to have 422 enabled on the Xbox now, as the console will do 420 in HDR without it turned on (certainly on my alpha OS anyway)
Interesting! I had watched Vincent from HDTV's recent video about HDMI cables etc, and i thought he mentioned to UNCHECK the box to get full bandwidth and test. I had it checked for the longest time and only recently unchecked it. I wonder if something changed in the alpha build? Maybe in prep for something else? Odd!
 
Oct 25, 2017
828
Kuwait
Just had a look at Resi 2 deom and have recorded the playback for further review.

my initially impressions are from the demo is that it's not a game that features a huge amount of dynamic range, I think this is likely just to keep it looking stylistically similar to the other titles in the series and give it a very typical japanese horror game look.
Shadow of the Collossus is very similar in this regards, it also has a very distinct look that is maintained in the remake.
It's very soft due to the compressed highlights but this fits in with some of the other unusual processing that is going on.
I didn't really witness any significant peak brightest, but if you did you out to the front of the station the lights there were noticable brightter than the interior, so it can get there

playing with the settings didin't really yield any huge variances of concern, I think it was easier to get a satisfactory result by following the instructions. The game definately raises the blacks, but I'm 100% sure this is intentional in this area. It may not be the same across the whole game.

For reference however, the lowest value for peak brightness is 300 nits and the maximum is 4000.
What setting would I need to use in order to get perfect blacks?
 
Oct 27, 2017
781
France
Yeah, I think it used to. But now if you select "use default color settings" it actually uses 422 8bit.
How can I be sure of what HDR color settings are used ?

If I let Windows handle it HDR works fine in games but I have to set the peak luma to 4000 in games such as Forza Horizon 4 or Mass Effect Andromeda (value read from the config file).
If I set the Nvidia control panel to handle it and set 422 10bit I have to set the games to 2000 (to match the white of the max value) or the highlights are overexposed if I keep 4000.

Either way the games look almost the same, except a little darker when forced in the Nvidia CP.

On the Xbox One X I have to use 4000 too (if I let the 1000 default in FH4 the highlights are grayish).

My TV is a Philips 55OLED803 and the HDR enhancements are disabled (auto-tone mapping), also, the color mode profile is the exact same on both sources.
 
Oct 27, 2017
887
I’d so , you need to ignore the red/blue thing and set that to a value as close to 100 as you can handle.
It’s very similar to a “paper white” adjustment.
In DMC I would be somewhere around 150 and certainly no higher than 200
Thank you! I wish I knew this a year ago. HDR in Resident Evil 7 on PC has been a struggle for me forever and now I know why. I tried this out last night and now it looks great.
 
Oct 27, 2017
485
One game we don’t need to worry about HDR is Ace Combat 7 because it’s not supported. :/ The ONE game I would expect HDR to enhance the atmosphere doesn’t support it and it even uses Unreal 4!
(Face Palm)
 
Nov 12, 2017
2,232
Yeah, I think it used to. But now if you select "use default color settings" it actually uses 422 8bit.
Are we sure it does in all cases, or is that just what's listed when you go to the desktop? If the application has exclusive full screen, then I assumed it would switch to 10 bit.
 
Oct 26, 2017
8,992
RE2 demo. Just my settings or do we have a bad, bad HDR implementation here as well? Areas that should look dark, quite a few areas in a game like this just look grey with HDR. These should look pitch black. Turning HDR off helps a lot with making the black levels darker but still far from ideal and not black like in many other games.

Best to just leave HDR off? I kept the settings at the start of the demo at default because I could barely see the icon, which is good.
 
Nov 1, 2017
2,760
Are we sure it does in all cases, or is that just what's listed when you go to the desktop? If the application has exclusive full screen, then I assumed it would switch to 10 bit.
I'm not sure, I think someone here found a way to see that the signal was 8 bit. I don't think it matters much anyway tbh.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
RE2 demo. Just my settings or do we have a bad, bad HDR implementation here as well? Areas that should look dark, quite a few areas in a game like this just look grey with HDR. These should look pitch black. Turning HDR off helps a lot with making the black levels darker but still far from ideal and not black like in many other games.

Best to just leave HDR off? I kept the settings at the start of the demo at default because I could barely see the icon, which is good.
I don’t think it’s bad, I think that greyness is 100% as intended.
The look of the resident Evil games (especially the prerendered background ones) are what I would describe as quite heavily tone mapped anyway. There is a distinct excessively lack of contrast in the image across the series. The same look is in Silent Hill and other Japanese genre titles

It’s not as pronounced in 7 (which is also less obviously colour graded than this demo, but you see elements of it still.
DMCV is also very similar, but I think it’s got more dynamic lighting and crazy magic effects, so you see the top up luminance a little more often, but even then it’s still not a million miles of the SDR look.
This is probably what RDR2 should have done if they didn’t want to make the game look too different to western movies

I was playing the game last night constantly changing settings and it broadly looks the same regardless of the settings you choose. The paper white setting will help a little with black level , but it may make menus too dark , so I would go as low as you possibly can without causing menu issues.
You only really get the peak brightness from direct light sources, muzzle flash, fire etc

I think this is just to maintain the look of Resident Evil 2, as it looks just like a remember.
Alternatively a lot of the textures are already baked in with lighting and the desired tone mapped look which is why they don’t take on a much of the light emitted by the light source.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
828
Kuwait
I don’t think it’s hard o think that greyness is 100% as intended.
The look of the resident Evil games (especially the prerendered background ones) are what I would describe as quite heavily tone mapped anyway. There is a distinct excessively lacking in contrast image across the series. The same look is in Silent Hill and other Japanese genre titles

It’s not as pronounced in 7, but you see elements of it still.

I was playing the game what’s night constantly changing settings and it broadly looks the same regardless of the settings you choose. You only get the peak brightness from direct light sources, muzzle flash, fire etc

I think this is just to maintain the look of Resident Evil 2, as it looks just like a remember.
I can achieve perfect blacks using SDR, not sure if it's intended or not but I'm liking it more than HDR.
 
Oct 26, 2017
8,992
I don’t think it’s hard o think that greyness is 100% as intended.
The look of the resident Evil games (especially the prerendered background ones) are what I would describe as quite heavily tone mapped anyway. There is a distinct excessively lacking in contrast image across the series. The same look is in Silent Hill and other Japanese genre titles

It’s not as pronounced in 7, but you see elements of it still.

I was playing the game what’s night constantly changing settings and it broadly looks the same regardless of the settings you choose. You only get the peak brightness from direct light sources, muzzle flash, fire etc

I think this is just to maintain the look of Resident Evil 2, as it looks just like a remember.
Hmmm I see. Personally I really don't like that at all. I'll probably just leave HDR off when I buy the game. SDR definitely looks better to me. We didn't see this greyness in the footage before because we couldn't see the HDR.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
I can achieve perfect blacks using SDR, not sure if it's intended or not but I'm liking it more than HDR.
It's funny how it actually appears to havea more comprehensive calibration in SDR (same as DMCV) but it does allow you to crush the blacks more.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
I'll take a few more measurements from the game playing with the paper white and see where it matches the SDR from a black level perspective.
 
Nov 8, 2017
106
The most recent 3rd party releases on PS4 Pro all exhibit raised blacks - and it is definitely not intended...
tomb raider, assassin's creed origins and odyssey, farcry 5, and red dead 2 all have terrible near black image quality. 1st party sony releases have no issues at all. Now it looks like resident evil has issues, despite RE7 providing an exceptional HDR experience with deep blacks and great contrast
 
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Nov 8, 2017
106
Examples?

Lots of games do it to try and look more "cinematic"
Thats not true, as the SDR counterpart does not exhibit raised black levels. The SDR versions of the games mentioned above all have deep blacks, and greater contrast in SDR using an OLED that can display true black

Reducing the brightness/black level using the tv's internal controls can help. But this can lead to poor near-black performance, banding and an overall worse picture

EvilBoris can you try to do a comparison of the SDR and HDR versions of the games listed above? Specifically looking at near black performance

For example, if one compares Uncharted 4 SDR and HDR - both images are comparable and tonemapped similarly, with the HDR version simply adding luminance and detail in the highlights. This is how its done for most HDR films. But compare the new tomb raider - and thats not the case. With Tomb raider in HDR mode there is not much difference in detail for highlights - but the black level or floor of the image is raised.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
Thats not true, as the SDR counterpart does not exhibit raised black levels. The SDR versions of the games mentioned above all have greater contrast in SDR using an OLED that can display true black

Reducing the brightness/black level using the tv's internal controls can help. But this can lead to poor near-black performance, banding and an overall worse picture
Ah, I didn't see your list

Assassins' Creed definately doesnt and actually offers a lot of adjustment , both Paper white and a kinda not really suitable (both useful if you want to compress your blacks) gamma correction.
Tomb Raider is definately going to a cinematic look and you see varying degrees of blackness depending on how any given area is graded. If you want it "blacker" turn the brightness down, I measured that games lots, I think it's in the thread somewhere.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is flat out broken, you are preaching to the wrong person with this one :P

The difficulty with trying to compare SDR to HDR is that SDR often entirely different adjustment types. The SDR setting is typically a gamma correction in case your TV isn't matching the in game gamma target for the game, but does so in such a way it's possible to crush the blacks further that intended as TV's themselves have the same gamma adjustment in the image setting, so it's possible to over adjust.
Then to overcomplicate things, some TVs let you override gamma in HDR (which is flat out wrong) and even adjust RGB levels for a YUV signal, so the comparison if you flick between the 2 can create an even larger disparity - this is why I do the comparisons on the raw outputs, rather than after they've been processed the TV.

All the Sony consoles have been really good from a video output perspective, so I can't imagine the PS4 version of games for the most part are significantly different.
Whilst you may say that it's not them trying to have a cinematic grade, I can tell you that it's super common in both photography and videography to do exactly that.
Games developers also have that other aspect of maintaining playability to contend with, it's not good everything being super dark if it means you can't see what they want you to see.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,592
EvilBoris Sorry if I missed it, but I wanted to see what you think of Odyssey's HDR implementation? I picked it up recently and I think it looks amazing at 1000/ 100 on my b7. I was reading the OT for the game and a lot of people think the HDR is garbage. I just don't agree with that.
 
Nov 8, 2017
106
The games on that list also are calibrated to 2.2 gamma. Industry standard has moved to 2.35-2.4 or bt 1886. Thats the only commonality between these games as far as image quality in SDR and the shared black level issues. Every game that has exceptional near black image quality, all look best when the display is calibrated to bt 1886. There must be some issue with conversion if the source tonemapping is calibrated to 2.2 for SDR. After extensive testing that seems to be the case.

Games calibrated to a 2.2 gamma in SDR all exhibit raised blacks or near black detail. Games calibrated to BT 1886 all have exceptional near black detail and can display pure black in-game in HDR

Tomb raider, odyssey and rdr 2 all are calibrated for a 2.2 display. On a properly calibrated bt 1886 display, those games have crushed shadow detail.

But Uncharted 4, mass effect, and god of war all set for the darker 2.35-2.4 gamma and look proper in hdr. bt 1886 on a display that can display true black is 2.4 gamma.
 
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Nov 8, 2017
106
EvilBoris Sorry if I missed it, but I wanted to see what you think of Odyssey's HDR implementation? I picked it up recently and I think it looks amazing at 1000/ 100 on my b7. I was reading the OT for the game and a lot of people think the HDR is garbage. I just don't agree with that.
Odyssey has amazing HDR for mid and highlight detail - but the near black or darker portion of the image is washed out
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,798
The HDR for Odyssey is great. I've also seen people say that it is flatout terrible. Weird considering it should look good even on default settings.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
Hmmm I see. Personally I really don't like that at all. I'll probably just leave HDR off when I buy the game. SDR definitely looks better to me. We didn't see this greyness in the footage before because we couldn't see the HDR.
the darkest paper white setting gives you a very similar image to the unadjusted SDR image (those SDR images just give you more opportunity to cursh and compress the blacks)

I personally don't see it as an error and it looks as I expect it to look, but it's certainly greyer (and often bluer).
There is the possibility there is some kind of gamma error in HDR, You can however adjust the gamma setting down on your TV and still retain the benefits of the HDR.
 
Nov 8, 2017
106
the darkest paper white setting gives you a very similar image to the unadjusted SDR image (those SDR images just give you more opportunity to cursh and compress the blacks)

I personally don't see it as an error and it looks as I expect it to look, but it's certainly greyer (and often bluer).
There is the possibility there is some kind of gamma error in HDR, You can however adjust the gamma setting down on your TV and still retain the benefits of the HDR.
If your display has a gamma adjustment option in HDR that is the best solution. Unfortunately the LG oleds dont allow for that in HDR mode :(
 
Oct 26, 2017
8,992
the darkest paper white setting gives you a very similar image to the unadjusted SDR image (those SDR images just give you more opportunity to cursh and compress the blacks)

I personally don't see it as an error and it looks as I expect it to look, but it's certainly greyer (and often bluer).
There is the possibility there is some kind of gamma error in HDR, You can however adjust the gamma setting down on your TV and still retain the benefits of the HDR.
I would try all this out but sadly the demo is over for me. Ah well.
 
Nov 8, 2017
106
That's as it should be, so don't worry. Some models expose that setting when they categorically shouldn't
Yes Im all for one true setting. Im totally against how all of these displays tonemap the image. At least Sony and Panasonic adhere to the pq eotf out of the box - then nicely roll off on the high end without clamping whites or bright colours. LG is all about fitting data as high as 10000nits into a display with 700 nits peak capability. The only way to fix this is to use the dynamic tonemapping setting on the 2017 and higher model Oleds or force it using a linker box.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,922
Having just played the Resi demo, 100% these blacks are completely messed up, firstly you can see the HDR highlights are there, speculars are everywhere, the problem is those blacks, you can see that's not how they are supposed to be, from the very first cutscene, when you duck under the metal shutter, the blacks are jet black, then he moves around with the camera, and bang, like a light switch they go milky grey, but obscenely so, and again you can see all the speculars but with lessened impact because of the greys, I'm convinced this is a patch fix.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
Having just played the Resi demo, 100% these blacks are completely messed up, firstly you can see the HDR highlights are there, speculars are everywhere, the problem is those blacks, you can see that's not how they are supposed to be, from the very first cutscene, when you duck under the metal shutter, the blacks are jet black, then he moves around with the camera, and bang, like a light switch they go milky grey, but obscenely so, and again you can see all the speculars but with lessened impact because of the greys, I'm convinced this is a patch fix.
If it’s not intentional then it could be a number of things

It could be the game has some kind of gamma related glitch (that it’s got gamma correction applied when it shouldn’t)

It could be that they’ve made a boo-boo and the game is outputting limited video levels for the in game stuff (I don’t know enough about the SDK’s to know whether you even do that manually)
The black point in both SDR and it’s equivalent in HDR is at around 18-20. Although menus and overlays are darker.

It might be that there is a little more lift than people like due to grading and guidelines for setting the paper white (which raise the near black levels) are making it worse for people.

SDR on the default settings and HDR with the paper white bar all the way to blue. There is not a big difference, but you do have 2 huge controls that will make the image even darker if you require in SDR


Or there are a few other things that could cause it, but the difficulty is knowing what is “correct”.

I’ll go see if I can find that scene you’ve described when it looks like it’s becoming darker. There are some weird transitions in the colour filters as you move through certain doors , I wonder if you that was happening and you were seeing a bit without the colour grading.
 
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EvilBoris
Oct 29, 2017
4,642
Yes Im all for one true setting. Im totally against how all of these displays tonemap the image. At least Sony and Panasonic adhere to the pq eotf out of the box - then nicely roll off on the high end without clamping whites or bright colours. LG is all about fitting data as high as 10000nits into a display with 700 nits peak capability. The only way to fix this is to use the dynamic tonemapping setting on the 2017 and higher model Oleds or force it using a linker box.
It could be that the game has been configured on a display that wasn’t setup correctly or is doing something else weird and then when this image is then being passed to displays that are different, it looks wrong.
I’d speculated in the past that some games such as God of War and BlackOps4 look overly bright on my display and had behaps been configured on a dimmer display or a display that is doing 4000/1000nit tone mapping.
Last night I was playing around with the metadata injection on a number of games that always looked weird or were commonly complained about online or simply had 4000+ not outputs and a number of them looked notably better when I forced a 4000nit tonemap , rather than my display’s native behaviour to simply clip. This kind of fits with this theory about using non reference displays for configuring the HDR.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,922
If it’s not intentional then it could be a number of things

It could be the game has some kind of gamma related glitch (that it’s got gamma correction applied when it shouldn’t)

It could be that they’ve made a boo-boo and the game is outputting limited video levels for the in game stuff (I don’t know enough about the SDK’s to know whether you even do that manually)
The black point in both SDR and it’s equivalent in HDR is at around 18-20. Although menus and overlays are darker.

It might be that there is a little more lift than people like due to grading and guidelines for setting the paper white (which raise the near black levels) are making it worse for people.

SDR on the default settings and HDR with the paper white bar all the way to blue. There is not a big difference, but you do have 2 huge controls that will make the image even darker if you require in SDR


Or there are a few other things that could cause it, but the difficulty is knowing what is “correct”.

I’ll go see if I can find that scene you’ve described when it looks like it’s becoming darker. There are some weird transitions in the colour filters as you move through certain doors , I wonder if you that was happening and you were seeing a bit without the colour grading.
There are 3 areas with decent black levels, one where you first go under the shutter, second one in the corner before the toilets, and the 3rd in the little room where the guy is banging on the shutter, I noticed that inside that room, looking out into the grey hallway, it's actually black, but when you walk out, it goes to shit again.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,312
If it’s not intentional then it could be a number of things

It could be the game has some kind of gamma related glitch (that it’s got gamma correction applied when it shouldn’t)

It could be that they’ve made a boo-boo and the game is outputting limited video levels for the in game stuff (I don’t know enough about the SDK’s to know whether you even do that manually)
The black point in both SDR and it’s equivalent in HDR is at around 18-20. Although menus and overlays are darker.

It might be that there is a little more lift than people like due to grading and guidelines for setting the paper white (which raise the near black levels) are making it worse for people.

SDR on the default settings and HDR with the paper white bar all the way to blue. There is not a big difference, but you do have 2 huge controls that will make the image even darker if you require in SDR


Or there are a few other things that could cause it, but the difficulty is knowing what is “correct”.

I’ll go see if I can find that scene you’ve described when it looks like it’s becoming darker. There are some weird transitions in the colour filters as you move through certain doors , I wonder if you that was happening and you were seeing a bit without the colour grading.
To your last point, that's true. They definitely change things on a room by room basis. When you go from the reception room (the room you raise the gate after cutting the tape) that is very bright to the immediate hallway that is dark, you'll see the game fade the lighting down even if just standing in the door way. Another room (the room right after you see the licker crawl across the window) has a very bloom heavy look to it.

Maybe that's what's fucking with things?
 
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Oct 27, 2017
485
If your display has a gamma adjustment option in HDR that is the best solution. Unfortunately the LG oleds dont allow for that in HDR mode :(
You made some really interesting posts! My TCL 6 allows for gamma adjustment in HDR, 2.0, 2.2 etc and I thought it should be locked out.
Anyway in late March I'm planing a major upgrade to a 65" LG C9, can't wait.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,312
So, this is one of those rare HDR games on PC where it lets you engage HDR natively through the game without turning it on in Windows. But if you leave your Windows display settings set to 8bit, does this result in 8bit HDR, or does it bypass it to 10bit?

Also, the PC version allows you to choose either sRGB or REC.709. What is the difference between these, and what is the correct setting for someone using Limited Range black level?
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,848
When HDR is turned on in the Windows display settings, doesn't Windows tonemap the desktop so SDR content is supposed to look correct? I know I've seen the option to adjust SDR white levels in the options. Also, games that don't support HDR just change back to SDR as long as they support Exclusive Fullscreen. So, what I'm asking is is it not possible to just keep HDR on all the time? That would get rid of all the switching back and forth when playing games.