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Can White Balancing save the day?


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#1 Aitor

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:36 AM

Hi all!

I have just started to read about lighting. I use a miniDV camera.

1)Can white balancing save me from thinking about fluorescent, tungsten and daylight as well as using a lightmeter?

2) Does anyone know what DPs in Hollywood and generally in professional level do? I heard that many just use tungsten for indoor lighting and shut off any other light source in the house... Is that true? When we see a shot where the lights are on in a room, that means that the DP has changed the bulbs in the room with tungsten lights?

I thank you in advance...
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:32 AM

1. no. just....no. Whiteballance can only balance to one source. Floros don't ballance well, and even if they do, usually home floros will give skin complexion an unflattering desaturated look. White ballance can't save the day, it can only ruin the day if you dont do it right.

2. Home lights are generally tungsten. Tungsten is the type of metal used in fillaments. DPs in hollywood have such extreme control over light that they can use any different technique to assure propper color reproduction. Shutting off the light from windows is a possabiltity (though a room with no light comming through the window looks like night) Gelling the windows with special orange gell can bring window light to tungsten color temp. You can gell your lights blue to match the windows. You can even let the window go blue under proper circumstances (ie the key light is tungesten and you have 5500K light comming over the shoulder, giving a bluish tint to the side of their face.)

It sounds like your looking for a blanket statement to cover any possible circumstance. It isnt as easy as all that. You need to decide what the frame should look like, then you need experience to get that look in the best possible manner. Watch movies that strike you visually and pay attention to the light. Then take your camera and shoot a bunch of tests. Dont worry about telling stories yet. Just get a modest light kit, a few gells and diffusion materials and test what works. Read these boards and books on the subject and try and understand the fundemental workings of lights and color.

Sounds like you have a long way to go before your shooting with the pros, but dont be discouraged. Nothing worth doing is ever easy (I know I stole that, I would referance it, but I can't remember what its from. Its probably from something lame like a Mr. Belvadier show)
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:08 AM

Sounds like you have a long way to go before your shooting with the pros, but dont be discouraged. Nothing worth doing is ever easy (I know I stole that, I would referance it, but I can't remember what its from. Its probably from something lame like a Mr. Belvadier show)

I had a friend years ago who became a fairly rich man by deliberately picking out things that are hard to do - and doing them. He knew that most people avoided, or couldn't figure out how to do, anything difficult.
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#4 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:18 AM

I had a friend years ago who became a fairly rich man by deliberately picking out things that are hard to do - and doing them. He knew that most people avoided, or couldn't figure out how to do, anything difficult.




That is such an awesome point! I've gotton some of my best jobs by realizing that I at the time didn't stand
out enough from the other applicants and so threw out some "dare to be great" (Thank you Lloyd
Dobler/Cameron Crowe) possibilities -and then of course backed them up. So many of us know we can do
the job (or we hope, suspect, doubt but still want to) and yet we forget to be bold. Not arrogant, but
offering something new and special that will help realize the project's possibilities and the director's goals.
Think of all the first time
directors who were given veteran DPs, by the studios, who sometimes were great and sometimes did
things the way they always did them.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:50 AM

White balancing, camera filters, and even post color-timing (to some extent) affect the color balance of the overall frame. So if you were shooting at night in a room lit ONLY by one source, like overhead Cool White flourescents, white balancing can help you get a neutral color.

But it won't help you in MIXED situations (daylight plus fluorescents, and a tungsten lamp on, etc.) because as you shift the overall color to fix one, it affects the others. In other words, to remove a greenish cast, you shift the image towards the pink, but now every other light source that wasn't greenish to begin with looks pinkish.

So white balance is an important tool and can also be used creatively, but it doesn't stop you from having to THINK about the color of the light sources in the room.
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#6 Greg Gross

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:28 PM

As David just said its the mixed light in a particular scene that gets you into trouble.
I try to use white balance creatively at times when shooting digital stills. Unfortunately
I will at times experience these color shifts do to the mixed types of lighting in the scene.
Sometimes I can achieve a delicate balance right on the edge but often times(more often
than not) I cannot achieve my true color as I preceive it,visualize it. I must admit that I
really enjoy though trying to achieve the true color I desire. Digital photography has op-
ened up the possibilities for achieving the true color desired for the eye of the photographer.
Noise and sharpness will humble one also. One approach may be to shoot raw,convert and go
for creative color or look in the color space that you work with. Don't forget I can use the same
lights that you use on the set to shoot digital stills.

Greg Gross
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