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White Balance


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#1 Michael King

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 04:38 PM

I'm familiar with setting white balance, understanding color temp., etc. But I'm wondering what process most DV filmmakers use. I imagine they have an sense of the lighting and color temperature they want before hand, and then take the appropriate lights, gels, and white balance cards to make that happen.

I'm guessing the most important thing for me to have is a variety of white balance cards, including white and different shades of orange and blue, then test them in the situation to see which seems to fit the best.

Am I on the right track with this? Any good book or web resource suggestions?

Thanks!
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 04:57 PM

Yes, I think you've got it. It depends. I personally haven't white balanced (in the usual sense) in a couple of years. Instead, I use the presets in the camera combined with appropriate lighting instruments, gels, and filters. To me, that gives a much more predictable result. And I will sometimes white balance on a 1/4 blue or orange to get the opposite tint in-camera. I just put the gel over my white card. My camera also has a 4400 filter, which is wonderful for those pesky fluoros, or just warming up a tungsten-lit scene.
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#3 Chris Sharman

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 03:50 AM

It's always worth using a properly set-up colour monitor to check colour balance, particularly if you're mixing colour temperatures. Then you know exactly what you're getting.

JM
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#4 Chris Cooke

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 02:16 AM

Yes, I think you've got it. It depends. I personally haven't white balanced (in the usual sense) in a couple of years. Instead, I use the presets in the camera combined with appropriate lighting instruments, gels, and filters. To me, that gives a much more predictable result.


How is a cinematographer supposed to control the image when using preset all the time? I use it in some situations (eg. nighttime at the fair with no additional lighting) but not very often. What happens when you want an exterior scene to have a bluish tint for artistic reasons? I hope that you don't say, "we'll put it on preset and hope for the best and then fix it in post". When I'm on set, I need to know exactly what I want my image to look like straight off the camera and how I want the finished product to look. Calibrated monitors are a good tool to have but it's sometimes better to learn without one. Warm or cool cards can help you white balance. Also, if you've lit your scene with tungsten lights using Bastard Amber #02 on the key light to warm your talent up and then you white balance to that, Bastard Amber will become white. The very thing that you were trying to achieve was aborted. What you need to do is either take the gel off the light, white balance and then put it back on, or white balance to a different naked tungsten light.
Another method of white balancing to get a warm effect is to put a blueish (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 CTB) filter on the lens, white balance to that and then take the filter off. Use a warm filter to achieve a cool effect.
There are other ways of achieving your desired look in camera but I wouldn't rely on preset.
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#5 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 04:22 AM

How is a cinematographer supposed to control the image when using preset all the time? I use it in some situations (eg. nighttime at the fair with no additional lighting) but not very often. What happens when you want an exterior scene to have a bluish tint for artistic reasons? I hope that you don't say, "we'll put it on preset and hope for the best and then fix it in post". When I'm on set, I need to know exactly what I want my image to look like straight off the camera and how I want the finished product to look. Calibrated monitors are a good tool to have but it's sometimes better to learn without one. Warm or cool cards can help you white balance. Also, if you've lit your scene with tungsten lights using Bastard Amber #02 on the key light to warm your talent up and then you white balance to that, Bastard Amber will become white. The very thing that you were trying to achieve was aborted. What you need to do is either take the gel off the light, white balance and then put it back on, or white balance to a different naked tungsten light.
Another method of white balancing to get a warm effect is to put a blueish (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 CTB) filter on the lens, white balance to that and then take the filter off. Use a warm filter to achieve a cool effect.
There are other ways of achieving your desired look in camera but I wouldn't rely on preset.


Chris,
I am using presets most of the time too, consider it like you are using a film stock,
It's not bad at all and helped me a lot of times.
I am white balancing when I have to deal with mixed light sources (colour wise).
If you use the 3200 preset and u put any gel on the lights like u do when shooting on a film stock, then the gel effect will be there.
And yes, if u want this special ''tint'' ,
u can use whatever filter you like , either infront of the lens to white balance with it on, or u can have the tinted blacks if u like ''like the skiped bleach proccess'', by using just an RCU unit. Also I am using the cal-colour gels, if I want to trim a specific colour on my pictures.(infront of the lens and I am white balancing) Try this, u will love it.
And believe it or not, proffesionals use the camera's preset, (when in a single camera shoot ).
Dimitrios Koukas :)
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#6 Gordon Highland

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 11:10 AM

How is a cinematographer supposed to control the image when using preset all the time? . . . Also, if you've lit your scene with tungsten lights using Bastard Amber #02 on the key light to warm your talent up and then you white balance to that, Bastard Amber will become white. The very thing that you were trying to achieve was aborted.


I think you've just made my point for me. That's why I don't white balance, because I don't want that reference point shifting around. As soon as you do that, it can corrupt or confuse whatever you're adding to the equation afterward. I know what the preset looks like (by that, I mean the 3200 or 5600 filter without any compensation), and so I know what it will look like afterwards when I gel a light a certain way (even if I'm intentionally mixing CTs), almost like math. This comes in very handy to stay predictable for those occasional instances when I don't use a monitor. I learned to light that way. Sometimes when I'm done I will go into the camera menu and turn down the preset color temp number to warm it up if that's what I want. Other times, I'll just load in a scene file on the SDX900, and use the monitor by eye for everything else.

I totally agree; it's like choosing a film stock and adding or mixing whatever's necessary to get the correct image.

If I were shooting in a factory or a gym or something with none of my own lighting instruments or a monitor, I would absolutely white balance.
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#7 Chris Cooke

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Posted 01 October 2005 - 08:00 PM

Sorry guys, when I saw the word "preset", I was thinking auto white balance. It's not that at all, actually I like the idea of using it and thinking of it as either tungsten or daylight film. Everything that I said above is true though if you exchange the word preset for auto white balance.
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Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

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Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Opal

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Technodolly