Amazon is bringing HDR to Prime Video

There's another confusing video acronym on the horizon: HDR, or high dynamic range. When it comes to photos, HDR refers to merging footage shot in different exposures into a single, hyper-realistic scene -- but for video it's more about improving the dynamic range of contrast and color. Today Amazon announced that it'll be bringing the feature to its Prime Instant Video service, starting with its original series, later this year. The company claims that it will offer better contrast and "detailed shadows and distinct highlights to make colors appear richer." That's something filmmakers have wanted for some time, but judging from HDR demos we saw at CES, it's not an aesthetic appropriate for everything. Amazon isn't the only company hyping it up: Netflix also demoed 4K HDR video at CES, and its chief product officer Neil Hunt even considers it "more important" than 4K.

While it would be too harsh to call HDR as pointless as motion smoothing, that infernal technology that makes your parents' HDTV look like a soap opera, there seems to be a similar draw for video services. Netflix's product lead, for example, says most viewers will see a bigger difference with HDR than 4K. But that's mainly because 4K isn't appreciably different than 1080p HD unless you've got a very big TV, or are sitting extremely close to the screen. HDR has its uses, but it can't be applied with reckless abandon. Just wait until we've got auto-HDR TV sets trying to correct the colorspace on your favorite film.

[Photo credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]