What Is Dolby Vision?

July 14, 2021
Dolby Vision

High dynamic range video and gaming content has gone mainstream, and one of the leading technologies to emerge is Dolby Vision. So what is Dolby Vision, how does it improve on other HDR technology, and how do you see it for yourself?

What Is Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision is a high dynamic range (HDR) video format developed and overseen by Dolby. Unlike HDR10, which is commonly found on most HDR-capable televisions and displays, Dolby Vision isn’t necessarily supported on all displays.

While HDR10 is an open standard that can be used by any creator or display manufacturer for free, Dolby Vision is a closed format that requires creators and manufacturers to work with Dolby and pay royalties.

Dolby Vision visualized

The big difference between Dolby Vision and the more basic HDR10 standard is that Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata to tone-map the image on a per-scene or per-frame basis. This means that Dolby Vision content can adjust the brightness, color, and sharpness to better conform with the capabilities of the display.

This results in a more “accurate” image that better preserves the creator’s intent compared with competing technologies like HDR10. Dolby Vision has a few other benefits, like support for up to 12-bit video at a peak brightness of up to 10,000 nits, although no displays are currently capable of this.

Dolby Vision Explained

Dolby Vision for games brings the benefits of dynamic metadata to video games. One of the biggest boons for gamers is how Dolby Vision does away with the sliders and adjustment knobs that can make or break a game’s HDR presentation.

How to Enjoy Dolby Vision Movies and Games

To enjoy Dolby Vision video content, you’ll need two things: a TV or monitor that’s capable of displaying Dolby Vision content, and something to watch or play. In mid-2021, Dolby Vision is well-supported on a wide range of models from TV manufacturers like LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Vizio, and TCL.

As for content, many on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ already support Dolby Vision for a lot of original programming. You can buy or rent Dolby Vision movies using marketplaces like Apple’s TV app.

If you bought movies using iTunes in the past, you might be surprised to learn that you already own a few Dolby Vision releases, since Apple often upgrades older releases. You can also get Dolby Vision releases on Blu-Ray—just look for the logo on the box.

Movie studios like Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, MGM, Universal, and Lionsgate have all signed up to create pictures that are presented in Dolby Vision.

Dolby Vision for games is currently only available on the Xbox Series X and S. At the time of writing in June 2021, the feature is being tested by Microsoft in a handful of games. Firmware updates will be required for both consoles and displays to get the most out of the feature when it launches properly later in 2021.

One of Many HDR Formats

Dolby Vision is perhaps the most promising of all HDR formats. While HDR10+ has failed to catch on in a big way, Dolby Vision is being used by some of the biggest names in movies and television. Learn more about HDR formats and why the future of video is so bright.

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