Screen brightening when white subtitles are present with HDR on

Hi all,

So noticed recently when I wanted to play Kingdom Hearts 1 on PC, that when you’re in a cutscene and white subtitles appear, the whole screen can be seen to brighten during this and then go back to normal when the subtitles disappear.
This can be pretty distracting and hope there’s a way to fix it, I imagine it could be a firmware thing?

I did some investigation and noticed with HDR set on W11 and Auto HDR either turned on/off it happens, but disabling HDR does fix it, so I’m sure it’s something to do with HDR. Googling the issue shows references to “Dynamic Backlight Control” being the cause for other TV/monitors, and in some cases were fixed with firmware updates, so have hopes it could be a firmware thing that could be fixed.

On a side note, is anyone aware of a W11 setting or maybe even programs that can be used to disable HDR on W11 when certain apps/games are launched? Would be handy for games like this where there is no HDR implemented, though either way would like this fixed for cases where Auto HDR works well (In KH1’s case at least right now, I think I prefer how SDR looks atm)

Thanks

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This is likely due to local backlight dimming.

The Spectrum’s backlight is split into 16 vertical zones. The backlight for each zone can be turned on or off independently, and will turn off when that portion of the screen is black.

You’ll probably find that it’s not the entire screen that’s lighting up, just the portions above (and slightly to the sides of) the subtitles. The far left and right sides are probably unaffected.

Sadly, there isn’t much that can be done about this. It’s just a property of the panel’s backlights. The only thing would be to turn local dimming off, and the Spectrum’s firmware doesn’t seem to allow this at the moment (at least for HDR images).

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Hey, @LAA,

In addition to what NZGeek wrote, there are a couple of ways to enable or disable the HDR setting in Windows 11, even on a ‘per-app’ basis.

The first (overall enabling or disabling) is via Settings → Display → {select the Spectrum if you have more than one monitor) → Use HDR toggle (In Insider Preview builds for Dev channel, this toggle is listed as Auto HDR) to enable or disable HDR. In the official Windows 11 release this is much more advanced, allowing you toggles of both to use HDR and then, deeper in the menu, to actually enable or disable Auto HDR, too.

But, if you want to enable it and control it on a per-app basis, that can (somewhat) be done by doing the following:

Settings → System → Display → Graphics - in this page you’re able to adjust the default (aka system-wide) Auto HDR setting at the top, as well as for individual apps below that (yeah, it says "Let Windows decide (power saving) but in effect it’s power savings for your GPU - so here you can force enable / disable HDR for specific items, including games, apps, etc. - click on an item and then select options (If it is not in the list, use the section in the middle to search for your app by type (desktop (installer-based) or Store app, then click browse to find your app, then a box will pop up with Options and Remove buttons - click Options).

When you click options, you will get a window that has 3 available options via radio buttons, and one by checkbox:

Radio buttons:

Let Windows decide
Power saving (with your GPU listed underneath)
High performance (also with GPU underneath)

Checkbox:
Don’t use Auto HDR

It takes a while to get set up if you have hundreds of apps, but once you get it set up just right, it should go a long way to getting you to where you need to.

I have to go teach here in a bit, but if I can, I’ll try to edit this post later this evening with some screenshots making it much easier to follow along.

HTH

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I’ve been experiencing this same issue on my xbox series x. Since apps like Netflix utilize HDR the screen brightens the same way behind the subtitles and it looks like its flickering.

Thanks for the write up!
Unfortunately this doesn’t work in this case, Auto HDR being on/off doesn’t fix the screen flickering, only turning HDR off within Windows itself fixes it. Auto HDR is just when it tries to convert an SDR game into HDR, which I’m not convinced is working for KH1 anyway.

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Correct, the steps I posted was for the disabling of the automatic HDR for the game itself, rather than disabling it globally. But if the flickering requires it being turned off globally, then that removes the need to do anything else.

Also, just out of curiosity, which driver version for nVidia are you using on Windows 11, 471.96 or 472.12?

Yeah maybe it’s more of a windows problems there isn’t an easy way to disable HDR on a per game basis.
And neither to answer your question, updates to 496.13 now which is the latest for my GPU now (3090)