Ginger HDR

Notice: Ginger HDR will be discontinued on February 28, 2014. See the blog for more details.

Welcome to the web page for Ginger HDR. Looking at the image on top, have you ever taken an image that looks like the image on the right? With a conventional camera, in scenes with lots of contrast either your shadows are going to be crushed or your highlights are going to be clipped to white.

High Dynamic Range video solves this problem. By using special shooting techniques you can capture the entire Dynamic Range of the scene. In the shot above, the classroom was captured with a bracketed set of 9 exposures, merged into HDR, and then processed with Ginger HDR inside of After Effects.

Since HDR Video is a relatively new technology there is a lack of solid workflow support. Ginger HDR is a set of plugins designed to streamline HDR processing so that we can take HDR Video from a science project to a production workflow. So what does Ginger HDR include?

HDR Tonemapping for After Effects (CS 3.0+) and Premiere Pro (CS 5.0+)

  • Tonemapping Basic: The basic tonemapping plugin is designed to quickly and easily compress the dynamic range of your scene while retaining detail. It uses a minimal set of parameters so it’s great for people new to HDR.
  • Tonemapping Advanced: The advanced tonemapping plugin is a much more specialized set of tonemapping options for experienced users. Tools include:
    1. Lens Filter: Simulate the effect of lens filters such as a gradient neutral density filter.
    2. Two Level Merge: A specialized tool for scenes with a separate bright area and dark area (such as looking out a window).
    3. Local Adaptation: The tool for compressing global contrast while adaptively increasing the local contrast.
    4. Filmic Curve: Simulate the look of real film by giving your tone curve a shoulder and a toe.
    5. Color Grading: Grading tools for manipulating your shadows, midtones, and highlights.

HDR Timelapse

Ginger HDR also includes a Merger too. If you have a bracketed set of exposures, the Merger allows you to merge them to EXR files that capture the full dynamic range of your scene. Those files can then be imported and tonemapped inside After Effects.

HDR Tonemapping in Premiere Pro

The most common workflow is to tonemap your files inside After Effects, render the files out, and edit them in Premiere Pro. But often times it’s much simpler to work directly with Premiere Pro.

To do so, you can create a “Wrapper” file. In the Merger program you can create a Wrapper file (with a .GNR extension) that points back to the original files. You can then load those GNR files directly into Premiere Pro (or After Effects) and tonemap your files directly.
HDR Wrapper Workflow

RAW and CinemaDNG support in Premiere Pro

Another common problem is working with Camera RAW and CinemaDNG files inside Premiere Pro. While After Effects includes a Camera RAW and CinemaDNG importer, Premiere Pro does not. But you can Ginger HDR. Simple create a wrapper file (just like the HDR wrapper) and you can import the wrapper file directly into Premiere Pro.
Camera RAW and CinemaDNG Workflow Tutorial

Magic Lantern HDR Video

For the more adventurous crowd, you can capture HDR video directly from certain Canon SLRs using the Magic Lantern Firmware. With the HDR mode, every other frame is rendered at a different ISO. For example, even frames would be 100 ISO and odd frames would be 1250 ISO.

Once you capture your movie, the Merger tool will process the file and merge the two “streams” together into a sequence of EXRs which you can then load inside After Effects. Alternatively you can create a wrapper file that points to the original move and allow Ginger HDR to merge the frames on-the-fly.

Note that the Magic Lantern HDR workflow does tend to reduce the overall visual sharpness of your video. It seems to be related to the interframe codec that Canon cameras use. So make sure that you are content with the visual quality before purchasing a copy.

Purchasing, Licensing, and Trials

Ginger HDR is available now for $149 USD. A single license allows one user to install Ginger HDR on up to 3 computers (either Mac, PC, or some combination of both). Additionally, a license gives you access to all tools in the Ginger HDR suite, plus a year of updates. If that sounds good to you, you can get started with a free 30-day trial.