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A Beginner's Guide to HDR Video Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro

Introduction to HDR Video Editing

Welcome to the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro! This guide is designed for beginners who are eager to explore HDR editing and learn how to take their videos to the next level.


High Dynamic Range (HDR) video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro offers a vast creative canvas, enabling you to bring your vision to life with more depth, detail, and color. This guide is for beginners ready to dive into the world of HDR video editing, providing the tools and knowledge to elevate their video projects to new heights.


Premiere Pro version 23.2 includes several important fixes, optimizations, and user-requested improvements. One of the new headlining features is automatic tone mapping for HDR media.


Premiere Pro Logo - Fixing HDR Problems - Distorted background graphic
Premiere Pro HDR Problems - Fixed

Do I need special hardware or software for editing HDR in Premiere Pro?

Yes, to work with HDR content in Premiere Pro, you will need both special hardware and software. You will need a computer monitor or display that supports HDR, a video card that outputs HDR video and Premiere Pro 2023 or later, which includes HDR editing capabilities.




Understanding the Basics of HDR in Video Editing

HDR video editing is a gateway to visual storytelling that is more vibrant and lifelike. It is essential to understand what HDR brings to your videos, such as enhanced color ranges and contrasts that make your footage stand out.


HDR technology enhances video quality by providing a wider color gamut and higher contrast ratio than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR).


To fully understand HDR video editing, it's important to familiarize yourself with key terms like:


  • HDR formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG are some popular HDR formats used in video production. Each format has its own unique characteristics and specifications.

  • Color space: The color space defines the range of colors that can be represented in an image or video. Rec. 2100 PQ and HLG are common color spaces used for HDR content.

  • Working color space: This is the color space used within Premiere Pro to edit your HDR footage. Choosing the right working color space is crucial for maintaining the accuracy of your HDR content throughout the editing process.


Premiere Pro preferences - Color - Display Color Settings - Checked Display Color Management and Extended Dynamic Range Monitoring
Premiere Pro Display Color Settings

Setting Up Premiere Pro for HDR Video Editing

Proper setup in Adobe Premiere Pro is key to effectively work with HDR content. This includes creating a workflow that maintains the integrity and quality of your HDR footage.


Before you start editing your HDR footage, you need to properly configure Premiere Pro.


  • Create a new sequence: When creating a new sequence, select an appropriate HDR color space like Rec. 2100 PQ or HLG.

  • Enable display color management: In Premiere Pro's preferences, enable "Display Color Management" and "Extended Dynamic Range Monitoring."


Importing and Managing HDR Footage

Managing HDR footage involves understanding the unique properties of HDR files and how to best use them in your editing workflow.


Importing HDR footage from various sources like iPhones, professional cameras, or Apple ProRes requires careful consideration.


  • Understand the metadata: HDR files often contain metadata that provides information about the color gamut, brightness levels, and other technical specifications.

  • Use appropriate codecs: Choose codecs that are specifically designed for HDR content, such as ProRes or HEVC.


Premiere Pro Sequence Settings - Working COlor Space options and auto tone mapping setting checked
Adjusting Working Color Space under Sequence Settings

Color Correction and Tone Mapping in HDR

Color correction and tone mapping are crucial in bringing out the best in your HDR footage, allowing for a more nuanced and detailed final product.


Color correction and tone mapping are essential techniques for enhancing HDR footage.


  • Use the Lumetri Scopes panel: This panel provides a variety of tools for analyzing and adjusting the color of your HDR footage.

  • Apply and adjust LUTs: LUTs (Lookup Tables) are pre-defined color profiles that can be applied to your footage to achieve a specific look.

  • Master tone mapping: Tone mapping is the process of converting the wide range of brightness in HDR footage to a format that can be displayed on an SDR monitor.



Setting Up HDR Displays for Accurate Editing

To accurately edit and grade HDR content, a properly calibrated HDR display is essential. This ensures that the colors and brightness levels you see are true to your footage.


To edit HDR footage accurately, you need an HDR-compatible monitor.


  • Calibrate your monitor: A properly calibrated monitor ensures that the colors you see on your screen are accurate representations of the colors in your footage.

  • Control ambient lighting: Avoid excessive ambient light in your editing environment.

  • Position your monitor correctly: Place your monitor at an appropriate viewing distance and angle.


Premiere Pro Export - Preset Manager - HEVC Match Source PQ selected
Finding the proper export preset

Exporting HDR Content: Formats and Settings

Exporting HDR content in the right format and settings is crucial for maintaining its quality and ensuring it is compatible with various platforms and devices.


Exporting HDR content requires specific settings to maintain its high quality.


  • Choose the right format: Popular export formats for HDR content include QuickTime and ProRes.

  • Select the appropriate codec: Codecs like HEVC and ProRes are suitable for HDR content.

  • Match platform requirements: Different platforms have specific requirements for HDR content.


Additional Tips for HDR Video Editing in Premiere Pro

Expanding your knowledge and skills in HDR video editing involves exploring additional features and staying updated on the latest advancements in HDR technology.



Learn about HDR metadata: Understanding HDR metadata can help you make informed decisions about color correction and tone mapping. It’s essential for accurately interpreting the dynamic range and color space of your footage.


  • Experiment with HDR graphics: Incorporating HDR graphics into your video can add depth and dimension. Ensure that your graphics match the HDR format of your footage to maintain color consistency.

  • Stay updated on HDR technology: HDR editing is a rapidly evolving field. Keep abreast of new developments, techniques, and tools that emerge in the world of HDR video editing. This will help you to continuously improve your skills and adapt to new standards.


McScratchey's Final Thoughts

Congratulations on taking your first steps into the exciting world of HDR video editing! This guide has provided you with a foundational understanding of key concepts and techniques. Remember, mastering HDR editing is a journey of continuous learning and experimentation. Embrace the power of HDR technology to elevate your video projects and captivate your audience with visually stunning content. By staying curious and embracing new challenges, you can unlock a new level of creativity in your video editing projects.

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