Windows Auto-HDR as an easy way to improve graphical immersion

High Dynamic Range (HDR), has been suggested before here. The original HDR support post is now locked and it seems like the best place to post this is here in features and ideas. CCP is not currently planning on adding HDR support. I would imagine one of the key things being implementation difficulties. However, implementing Auto-HDR could be as simple as messaging Microsoft.

High Dynamic Range basically means having a bigger color and brightness range. This, for example, fixes borders between dark colours being visible, looking like blocks instead of a smooth gradient, which is color banding. It basically makes graphics look more like real life, which would certainly increase the immersion in EVE.

For HDR, there exists a workaround for implementation. Windows 11 has a feature called Auto-HDR, where it determines whether a game supports it. I can’t confirm whether Windows 10 has this, but atleast some preview builds have had it. Auto-HDR uses a post-process pixel shader pass with machine learning that converts normal SDR colors and brightness to High Dynamic Range. Auto-HDR can be toggled on/off for individual apps, so support wouldn’t break anything and the toggle might be able to be set off by default.

Microsoft claims that this works for most DX11 and DX12 games. It requires usage of DXGI flip model. Mentions of this model show up on search, mostly in EVE debug logs. If EVE uses this model, implementation could be as simple as getting added to an allowlist by Microsoft. For example, Valorant is on this allowlist. I don’t know the current state of this, but some time ago simply changing the games .exe files name to a supported one enabled Auto-HDR in some games, and changing some windows registry files worked for some others. It might require some fixes or changes for compatibility, but these could be just minor changes.

I cannot estimate how hard switching to a DXGI flip model would be compared to native HDR implementation, but that could be a thing to at least consider. Adding Auto-HDR support is doable and for example, Alan Wake Remastered added Auto-HDR support for Xbox X/S in 2022.

There is also Special K, a tool that does Auto-HDR a bit different modifying a games tone mapping, although it can be used for cheating purposes, so if it were a functional option for HDR implementation, it would need to be discussed implemented into the game with something preventing other uses or only implementing the HDR part if possible.

Added, apparently there is an Nvidia update probably coming soon (there is a mod to use it now), similar to Auto-HDR, but it works with EVE. It apparently only works with RTX series cards, so GTX, AMD and Intel gpus are excluded.

Here are some rescources for further reading:
Microsoft presentation on HDR, timestamp to Auto-HDR
Microsoft Auto-HDR announcement, easy text

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Hmm. I have an HDR Monitor and thus are using HDR in the Windows11 display options. When using EVE in Windows-Mode, I can see a noticable improvement in contrast (basically way brighter white, darker shadows) over using the standard mode. Does HDR need to be supported by the application or is it just applied as post-processing filter over the whole display image?

If I remember correctly, according to Microsoft documentation app windows should be handled separately unless fullscreen. I asked CCP and they said that EVE is not Auto-HDR supported. SDR and HDR might have different colour and brightness profiles on the monitor that could explain the contrast, i.e. you might have contrast = 100 on HDR picture mode and contrast = 50 on SDR. When you open EVE fullscreen it switches to SDR and therefore to lower contrast, while in windowed it will be on HDR with the higher contrast setting.

Although it could also be that you got EVE running with the Auto-HDR on. Did you get the notification that its on? Normal HDR shouldn’t matter outside setting differences and maybe how the monitor handles it, could be that SDR content is displayed brighter in HDR mode, there is also a setting for this in windows under HDR → SDR content brightness. Does the picture mode change when comparing fullscreen and windowed mode EVE?

HDR in practice is the databits that are in a bigger range. Native, normal HDR is an output thing, not a filter. It is basically a setup with the app and Windows such that it outputs HDR. Auto-HDR would be a sort of post-processing filter, although it needs to be integrated kinda between, not after everything else, so it isn’t supported on everything. More technical information: HDR in more advanced detail. The Auto-HDR ‘filter’ might need additional supportive fixes or it might be as simple as just allowlisting = enabling it.