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White balance or color grade


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#1 Minco van der Weide

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:59 AM

Hi!

 

I've been using my A7s for commercial work for a while, but I'm getting more and more into short films. I love fincher's work, and did a lot of research about his cinematography (lighting in perticular).

 

But I wonder what the workflow for shots like this is:1411669660-screenshot_2014-09-25_192628.

 

I guess the lighting is gelled, but the color effect?

 

Do you need to shoot with the correct white balance with a grey-card (in this example for example 3200k) and then color correct it warmer? Or is it better to shoot it in camera as close as possible to the end result (and make it warmer with white balance in the a7s)?

 

Thanks in advance for all the help, I really apreciate it. :)


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 12:02 PM

Since digital cameras generally have a cleaner blue channel when the lighting gets closer to daylight, if you want an overall warmth and are lighting with tungsten, it would be simpler and cleaner to just set the camera to something like 3700K to 4300K, rather than 3200K, in order to get more warmth.


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#3 Minco van der Weide

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 01:06 PM

Since digital cameras generally have a cleaner blue channel when the lighting gets closer to daylight, if you want an overall warmth and are lighting with tungsten, it would be simpler and cleaner to just set the camera to something like 3700K to 4300K, rather than 3200K, in order to get more warmth.

 

So you are saying that "scientific" white balance with a grey card isn't necessary if the end look needs to look something like the picture shown above? 

 

Thanks a lot for your reaction by the way, I read a lot of useful posts of you in other treads here.  


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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 07:22 PM

An 18% grey card is generally used when shooting film to give the dailies timer a reference for exposure and any creative color balances that you might be using. 

 

Manually white balancing a digital camera would be done with a white target. It's not generally necessary unless you are dealing with mixed, or unusual lighting.

 

In the frame you've referenced, the light could have been filtered, or dimmed to warm it up. The camera may have been set to a non-standard CT, as David suggests, or the look could have been created in post.

 

My personal preference is to create the look 'in camera', either through filtration or color balance. That way, my intentions are communicated for everyone to see.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 11:01 PM

You could get a warm cast by white balancing to a blue card under your "white" lighting, but with a digital camera, it's easier to just raise the color temp setting.

 

As for shooting a grey scale for a colorist to see, as a guide for color-correction, then you could shoot the grey scale under a blue-gelled lamp (let's say, add 1/4 CTB to the lamp) and then shoot the scene under white lighting -- the scene will have a warm cast because the timer would have pulled the blue out of the grey scale image to neutralize it, thus shifting the remaining shots towards the orange.

 

But for a lot of people shooting digital, there is no dailies colorist step anymore.  But you can do white balancing tricks with colored cards, just like before in video, if you want a color cast to the image.

 

You would shoot a grey scale under "white" 3200K lighting only if the scene that followed was lit by warm-gelled lamps and you wanted to make sure a colorist didn't correct out the warmth.  So by seeing a neutral reference up front, they'd see that the following scene that looked warm was supposed to be warm.

 

But if you are trying to get the colorist to add warmth to a scene lit with 3200K lighting with no gels, then a good trick would be to shoot the grey scale under a blue-ish light so the colorist would have to add warmth to neutralize it.  But again, this is assuming a color-correction step for dailies.  The grey scale is a non-verbal communication tool with someone in the post house.  But if you are the one creating the color in camera so that it is baked in (or recorded to the metadata used for conversion), then you don't really need that communication step.


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#6 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 03:04 AM

Stuart

 

I have a question.. if you are shooting S Log or C Log..  or RAW.. do you mean you bake in the look as Metadata.. or you are actually recording it  baked in as you shoot.. if so does that not restrict grading/colouring in post..

 

Thanks


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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 03:38 AM

Sorry meant Log C.. not the canon 8 bit C log


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#8 Minco van der Weide

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 03:39 AM

Stuart

 

I have a question.. if you are shooting S Log or C Log..  or RAW.. do you mean you bake in the look as Metadata.. or you are actually recording it  baked in as you shoot.. if so does that not restrict grading/colouring in post..

 

Thanks

 

LOG is something diffrent then RAW. LOG is "simply" a flat setting for maximum dynamic range, RAW actually records more data so you can change things as the color temp and iso in post.

 

When playing with color temperature it is baked in with LOG (and so restricting options in post) and editable with RAW footage.


Edited by Minco van der Weide, 27 November 2015 - 03:40 AM.

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#9 Minco van der Weide

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 03:43 AM

You could get a warm cast by white balancing to a blue card under your "white" lighting, but with a digital camera, it's easier to just raise the color temp setting.

 

As for shooting a grey scale for a colorist to see, as a guide for color-correction, then you could shoot the grey scale under a blue-gelled lamp (let's say, add 1/4 CTB to the lamp) and then shoot the scene under white lighting -- the scene will have a warm cast because the timer would have pulled the blue out of the grey scale image to neutralize it, thus shifting the remaining shots towards the orange.

 

But for a lot of people shooting digital, there is no dailies colorist step anymore.  But you can do white balancing tricks with colored cards, just like before in video, if you want a color cast to the image.

 

You would shoot a grey scale under "white" 3200K lighting only if the scene that followed was lit by warm-gelled lamps and you wanted to make sure a colorist didn't correct out the warmth.  So by seeing a neutral reference up front, they'd see that the following scene that looked warm was supposed to be warm.

 

But if you are trying to get the colorist to add warmth to a scene lit with 3200K lighting with no gels, then a good trick would be to shoot the grey scale under a blue-ish light so the colorist would have to add warmth to neutralize it.  But again, this is assuming a color-correction step for dailies.  The grey scale is a non-verbal communication tool with someone in the post house.  But if you are the one creating the color in camera so that it is baked in (or recorded to the metadata used for conversion), then you don't really need that communication step.

 

Thanks for your reaction! I get how to do it, that's not the problem really. I could also just eyeball it and set the K balance manually, but the question is if you should do such a thing in cinema.

 

gone-girl-movie-screenshot-sugar-kiss-3.

 

I really wonder if it is technically better to get the look in camera or in post (and white balance correctly). The colorgrading is done by myself anyhow, so that is no problem. :)

 

Thanks again! 


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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 05:26 AM

Depends if you're recording on a 8 bit format or 10bit or RAW. With 8 bit, I'd tend to try getting it close as possible in camera.


Edited by Brian Drysdale, 27 November 2015 - 05:26 AM.

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#11 Minco van der Weide

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 05:28 AM

Depends if you're recording on a 8 bit format or 10bit or RAW. With 8 bit, I'd tend to try getting it close as possible in camera.

 

I shoot 8bit s-log2 (PicPro settings). So it's best to get as close to the end result as possible by color balancing in-camera in a "wrong" way? Thanks! :)


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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 05:38 AM

The only thing to be aware of with the first shot you posted is that if you shoot it like that, it will not be easy to retrieve a normal-looking image without excessive blue noise. As people have said, the blue channel is noisiest anyway and in that situation you are significantly underexposing it. I have been accused of shooting excessively yellowish or "mustardy" images when aiming for that sort of thing.

 

P


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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 08:04 AM

 

LOG is something diffrent then RAW. LOG is "simply" a flat setting for maximum dynamic range, RAW actually records more data so you can change things as the color temp and iso in post.

 

When playing with color temperature it is baked in with LOG (and so restricting options in post) and editable with RAW footage.

 

Well yes RAW is off the sensor.. with no processing.. or well very little.. seems some have a curve applied, but I wouldn't say WB is baked in with say SLog3.. its almost monochrome .. and plenty of room for WB manipulation .. 

 

Yes I wouldn't shoot log in 8 bit.. almost defeating the object of shooting wide DR.. :)

 

I think if your grading as you say.. its better to shoot 10 bit Log and do it in post.. you will have far more control and can change it around till you get what you want..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 27 November 2015 - 08:08 AM.

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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 10:46 AM

I try to get the look in camera, then I'm not pushing a signal around in post too far.  It's just that it is easy to overdo the warmth thing, so keep it subtle.  With a few cameras, color temp settings are baked into raw (the ARRI D21 did) but most do not, it's just metadata that applies the camera setting to the conversion from raw to something viewable in RGB.  

 

But with log, the color temp is baked into the recording.  However, I don't think this is a problem if you know what you are doing -- I'd rather get the camera close to the color I want than to create it in post later.  For one thing, if dailies don't have the colors in it, then everyone spending months in editing will get used to the neutral look, making it very hard to convince them to let you warm it up later, even if that was what everyone agreed on during the prep and shoot.  But you can be conservative about the amount of color tinting you employ in camera; you can always goose it up in post later, but I think something of the intent should be visible in the dailies and set monitor.

 

The lower the bit depth of the recording, the higher the compression, the more you should nail the look in camera because any extreme correction is going to create artifacts.


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#15 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 11:20 AM

Stuart

 

I have a question.. if you are shooting S Log or C Log..  or RAW.. do you mean you bake in the look as Metadata.. or you are actually recording it  baked in as you shoot.. if so does that not restrict grading/colouring in post..

 

Thanks

 

If you're shooting RAW, then the Camera's white balance is just metadata, but any filtration on the lamp or lens would be 'baked in'. It's the same when shooting in a Log format, although in that case the White Balance is also part of the image. I've never had problems in Color Correction when working this way, but then I'm generally working in 12bit ProRes. If you were working with a lower bit depth, you may find the image falls apart if you're doing  major corrections.


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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 06:21 PM

For the original sample frame from 'Gone Girl' I think they probably shot it clean and did the color in post. David Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth usually shoot raw with Red cameras and don't like to use colored filters on the lens or gels on their lights. It's a lot easier to do this kind of 'destructive' grading (I call it so because you are basically throwing away color information in the blue channel to create the look) when starting from a raw image file. If you try to do this in post working with 8-bit luma and color, I think you will find that there won't be enough information in the red and green channels to make smooth gradations in the skin and you will end up with a noisy splotchy image. In that case, you would end up with a better result by shooting close to the final color to maximize your bits and color allocation. With 10-12 bits you would have better results. Raw is still preferable though.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 06:34 PM

They could have easily shot with the camera set to 3700K or higher for a warm look under 3200K lighting, it's just metadata anyway with the Red Epic they were using.


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#18 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 07:14 PM

Almost certainly yes, I just meant no additional filtration. One thing I have found is that for night exteriors under sodium vapor lights, if you white balance to something like 2000-2500K then the sodium becomes much closer to neutral but also sickly green which gets you very close to the Fincher look. Here are some frames from a project that didn't make it into my reel. Of course it helps to start with a raw file.

 

ALG_01.jpg

ALG_03.jpg

ALG_02.jpg


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#19 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 07:51 PM

 

If you're shooting RAW, then the Camera's white balance is just metadata, but any filtration on the lamp or lens would be 'baked in'. It's the same when shooting in a Log format, although in that case the White Balance is also part of the image. I've never had problems in Color Correction when working this way, but then I'm generally working in 12bit ProRes. If you were working with a lower bit depth, you may find the image falls apart if you're doing  major corrections.

 

Hi Stuart 

 

ok many thanks for your time.. Ive only shot Log with the Sony F5/55.. which is 10 bit.. and provided your exposure isnt miles off.. the SLog3.cine .. there seems alot of attitude for CC..   you can shoot Log Mpeg 8 bit in these camera,s.. but as everyone says its not recommended ..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 27 November 2015 - 07:54 PM.

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#20 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 07:54 PM

I try to get the look in camera, then I'm not pushing a signal around in post too far.  It's just that it is easy to overdo the warmth thing, so keep it subtle.  With a few cameras, color temp settings are baked into raw (the ARRI D21 did) but most do not, it's just metadata that applies the camera setting to the conversion from raw to something viewable in RGB.  

 

But with log, the color temp is baked into the recording.  However, I don't think this is a problem if you know what you are doing -- I'd rather get the camera close to the color I want than to create it in post later.  For one thing, if dailies don't have the colors in it, then everyone spending months in editing will get used to the neutral look, making it very hard to convince them to let you warm it up later, even if that was what everyone agreed on during the prep and shoot.  But you can be conservative about the amount of color tinting you employ in camera; you can always goose it up in post later, but I think something of the intent should be visible in the dailies and set monitor.

 

The lower the bit depth of the recording, the higher the compression, the more you should nail the look in camera because any extreme correction is going to create artifacts.

Ok thanks Dave.. valuable info there..


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