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Color Correction for HMI's at Night with Tungsten?


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#1 Norbert Shieh

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 12:11 PM

Quick question.

Shooting 500T at night, and am curious would an HMI read too blue for moonlight?
How much color correction would you add on?

Thanks!
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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 03:09 PM

That's quite often what people do - shoot HMi's uncorrected for a slightly cooler look. They will not turn blue, so if that's what you want then you must add blue. They're more like cool white or very lightly blue uncorrected.

Then again, moonlight isn't really blue - it's just a movie convention. And if you're in a city environment you can play the light any color you want, really.

For a good look of what unconventional nights can look like, take a look at late DP Jean-Yves Escoffier's films - often full of green and yellow nights.
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#3 George Lekovic

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 03:32 PM

You will probably go with the big 18K or a 12K HMI PAR. Throw a 1/4 or 1/2 CTO on it. I find the bare HMI to be "too blue" on tungsten...
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 04:19 PM

It depends what you want the moonlight to look like -- a very low level pale blue, the way it appears in reality, or the big, harsh, overexposed blue backlight you see too often in movies? Or some other effect?

I don't think HMI's are as pale or subtle as what Adam describes, but that's partly a matter of taste. I think they are indeed blue on their own, and really need 1/2 CTO correction to look more subtle, and more like "real" moonlight. The saturation of HMI's also depends on the level; when it's underexposed it tends to look more saturated than when it's overexposed.

We've discussed a million times about the "real" color of moonlight. I maintain that it does indeed appear bluish to the eye in reality, for two reasons. One, it's technically sunlight (5600K) bounced off a neutral gray, and is much bluer than the tungsten lights your eyes may be adjusted to in nighttime environments. Two, the whole eye/brain perception of color at low light levels; basically your eyes can't resolve color below a certain luminance, and your brain tries to interpret the signal as well as possible, and it comes up bluish. I've observed many, many times how almost ANY color light turns pale blue to the eye when it's very dark and the only light source.

But for movies, there are no real rules and you can interpret the color of moonlight to be whatever you want. Everybody has their favorite "recipe" for moonlight. Many people like to throw a little green in. I find a straight 4400K looks about as close to real as possible. And to sell it as "real," it really should be only at key level or under. But many times you have to fudge that for other reasons, like simply to get enough contrast in the image.
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#5 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 04:37 PM

I don't like the look of uncorrected HMIs - it's way too blue for me. Moonlight should look silvery-gray, I think. Some people use 1/2 CTO with 1/4 Plus Green. I like Chocolate Gel on an HMI for Moonlight, it seems to have the right 'silvery' quality.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 04:56 PM

Uncorrected HMI on 500T will be really blue. The answer to your question really depends on what and where you are shooting. If it is city exterior I like to keep lighting levels low in order to avoid under-exposing the existing lights coming from buildings, signs, etc.
In terms of colour it depends on what the setting and the desire psycho-emotional impact you are going for.
You need to be more specific in order for me to answer your question.
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#7 Norbert Shieh

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 05:25 PM

You need to be more specific in order for me to answer your question.

Sorry here are some more details. Fuji 500T, Ext. Forest, Campfire.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 05:32 PM

The orange firelight will make any blue light appear a little "bluer" by virtue of color-contrast. But you'll still have to decide how "blue" you want your moonlight to look.
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