How to turn RAW photos into HDR video

This complicated process turns your RAW photos into a HDR video file.

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Today I'm showing you how to turn RAW photos into HDR video using Lightroom Classic, LRTimelapse 6, and DaVinci Resolve Studio.

This is not to be confused with HDR photos blended together, which is something else entirely.

This is about higher brightness levels and wider color gamuts within the generated video file, using LRTimelapse’s Colour Management.

As I’ve mentioned before, HDR for timelapse photographers is an upcoming chapter of The Ultimate Timelapse Course, and this is one of many videos covered in said chapter. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on the release of this chapter.

Watch the HDR video tutorial below, or keep reading if that's your preference.

Here’s the hardware and software you need

Here’s what you need to prepare.

Capture a timelapse as a series of RAW photos, I’m using a sequence from my Lumix S1 shot in Aperture priority mode with auto iso, resulting in a near-perfect day-to-night sequence straight out of camera.

You need to calibrate your HDR monitor, as we’ll be relying on this calibrated view to colour grade and finalise our HDR video. Download the app and follow the instructions, it’s pretty straightforward and makes a world of difference compared to manually tweaking it yourself.

Once your screen is calibrated properly it's time to start the edit.

How to turn RAW photos into HDR video

Open your timelapse sequence in Lightroom Classic and in LRTimelapse 6.

Go to your LRTimelapse settings and enable Colour Management, then select the correct .icc file that your screen calibrator generated. Then restart LRTimelapse so the settings get applied.

Navigate to your sequence in LRTimelapse and add your keyframes so you can tweak and ramp your white balance and other settings. If this process is too quick you can follow along with this demo here.

Go through the steps to color grade your sequence in Lightroom Classic and then save your metadata and return to LRTimelapse.

Enable the auto transition and now you can preview your sequence if you want.

Return to Lightroom, select all your photos and go to File > Export and select the following settings. This turns your sequence of RAWs into an intermediary sequence of TIFF files.

Then, open DaVinci Resolve and go to the project settings panel and adjust the following settings.

  • Go to File > Project Settings > Color Management
  • Set the Color Science To “DaVinci YRGP Color Managed”
  • Set the Color Processing Mode to “HDR Rec.2020 Intermediate”
  • Check “Use separate color space and gamma”
  • Set the Output Color Space to “Rec.2020” and “Rec.2100 HLG”
  • Check “HDR Mastering is for 1000 nits”
  • Check “Enable HDR10+”

The color space we are using is REC2020 which is a Wide Colour Gamut allowing for more colors compared to SDR, the gamma we’re using is REC2100 HLG, which allows for more brightness values than we currently have.

Apply further grades with the HDR color wheels and effects where needed. In the nodes panel, make sure all your nodes are set to HDR.

The reason we don’t put the RAW files straight into DaVinci Resolve, which is an option, is because firstly not all RAW files work in DaVinci Resolve (Lumix for example). Secondly, you’d want to use LRTimelapse for ramping and deflickering your sequence if needed, which LRTimelapse is so good at it can’t be ignored.

Now export your clip as a HDR video file. Go to the Deliver workspace and:

  • Set the format to QuickTime
  • Set the codec to DNxHR, Type DNxHR 444 12-Bit
  • Check “Constant Bitrate”
  • Set Data Levels to “Full”
  • Check “Force sizing to highest quality
  • Check “Force debayer to highest quality”

In case your computer can’t read this exported file, here is an alternative option:

  • Format: Quicktime
  • Codec: Apple ProRes
  • Type: 4444 XQ
  • Constant Bit Rate
  • Data Levels: Full
  • Sizing: Highest Quality
  • Debayer: Highest Quality
  • Tone Mapping: HDR10+

Let this run and voila, you have yourself a HDR video file.

As mentioned, subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date with the new HDR chapter of The Ultimate Timelapse Course and check out my free e-books to get started with timelapse and hyperlapse photography!

May the clouds be in your favour.

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