An HDR logo in neon lights.

High-dynamic-range (HDR) video is taking off in a big way. Some of your favorite movies are already available with enhanced color and brightness, and look even better than they did in their original theatrical releases.

But some remasters have caused critics to cry foul, igniting a debate around technical capability and artistic intent.

What Are the Benefits of HDR?

Before we consider whether the term “fake HDR” is even warranted, it’s important to understand what HDR video is. As its name implies, high-dynamic-range video has an increased dynamic range compared to standard-dynamic-range (SDR) content.

Dynamic range is the amount of information visible in an image or video between the brightest highlights and the deepest shadows. Modern HDR video is delivered in 10-bits per channel, as opposed to the eight-bits per channel in SDR. This means SDR can display 256 shades of red, but HDR can display 1,024.

Three photos of a campfire: one in SDR, one in Static HDR, and one in Dynamic HDR.

This means more color information is visible on-screen, which is closer to what we would see in real life. More shades of a particular color also makes unsightly “banding” in gradients less prominent. The difference is most visible in fine details, like clouds or areas with subtle color variations.

HDR also adds luminance or peak