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Old March 31st, 2012, 06:57 PM   #1
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White balance for interview lighting?

I've got my lighting setup for the interview like the Band of Brothers veteran interviews. How do I go about setting the white balance? Do I have to move the camera over to have the the key light behind me and then set to a wb board next to the persons face? Then move the camera back to the filming location?
There just isnt enough light to set it from the final location of the camera. IMO anyway.

Any tips?

Thanks,
GL
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Old March 31st, 2012, 09:23 PM   #2
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

I've always done WB from the camera position. I put someone (anyone handy) in the chair, use a white card have them hold it in front of their face and set my WB to that. That has gotten me right about 99.99999% of the time. If you move the camera or light then you've changed the setup and might not be getting a true white balance. Let me say again that this is what I and it has worked for me for many many years and interviews. Others may disagree or have another method. This method also allows me to set my iris at the same time.
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Old March 31st, 2012, 10:20 PM   #3
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Sounds like you are using an off side key which means not much light on your WB card. Anything is better than nothing. Try zooming in on the whitecard and put the brightest part of the card in the center of the frame. Take a test shot with you as the talent. Then move the camera, set the WB and take a test shot back at the camera position.... Look at it on your NLE....see which you like better and go with it.

Last edited by Les Wilson; April 1st, 2012 at 12:43 PM.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 03:43 AM   #4
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

For WB we use Expodiscs from the camera position. We find the neutral version is essential for 'mixed' lighting and the warm version great
for indoor seated interviews.

ExpoImaging - ExpoDisc Neutral White Balance

I read where you should buy a large one to cover all your lens diameters, but it's a pain if you have to mount it inside your lens hood ..
taking the hood off each time is not on.

Cheers.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 06:55 AM   #5
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

The video on that page refers to 4 more episodes but I could not find them. Their YouTube channel has a bunch of other videos but nothing labelled 2 of 5 etc.

Last edited by Les Wilson; April 1st, 2012 at 12:42 PM.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 07:51 AM   #6
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Don's method is the best way to white balance for interviews. However there is nothing with moving the camera closer (if necesssary) to fill the frame with the white card . . . setting the white balance . . . and then moving the camera back to the shooting postion. It is much more important that you are able to fill the frame, and moving the camera forward or back is really no different than zooming.

An Expodisc is not a good idea for interviews. In fact, any white balance method that measure's the light right at the postion of the lens, rather than at the postion of your suject, is a bad idea. In other words, the biggest problem with ExpoDisc is that once it is mounted on the lens, it can only measure the ambient light that happens to be falling on the lens. But is the lighting at the camera's position the same light that is hitting your subject? Not for inteviews.

For example, when shooting an interview, the camera's shooting position is usually outside the sphere of lighting where the talent is sitting. To use ExpoDisc in this type of shooting situation, because it acts as an incident meter, you must physically move the camera (after all the lights have been set) over to where the subject is located . . . aim the camera towards the original camera position so the lighting strikes the camera in the same way that it will strike the subject . . . set your white balance . . . and then drag the camera back over to the original position and frame it up on the subject. Not only does moving the camera waste a lot of time, it is really a hassle. Why bother? A white card are so much simpler to use. You just hold the card in front of the subjects face (after all lighting is set) . . . zoom into the card . . . set the white balance . . . re-frame the shot and start shooting.

If you want more tips on setting white balance, go to this page and download the WarmCards User Guide and read pages 9 -10.
WarmCards - White Balance Reference System
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Old April 1st, 2012, 06:02 PM   #7
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Probably should have posted this in the original.
Here is the interview lighting I'm using. After Dick Winters or course.


So what I'm faced with is shooting from the dark side. And the side that there is light is very dim.
So am I to understand that even a dim WB, would be sufficient? I can probably get something but I suppose it will actually come from the lit side? Should I hold the WB next to the subjects face but on the lit side? Maybe just beside their lit ear?

Thanks,
GL
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Old April 1st, 2012, 06:20 PM   #8
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Gary,
Shooting from the side opposite the Key light is an off side key. Shooting from the same side is an on side key. You are shooting an off side key shot.

Read the page Doug linked to about the warmcards. His post explained what to do as well.

When you set the white balance (not exposure), you are telling the camera, "Hey, in this lighting, what you see on the sensor is supposed to be white. So everything you see that's this color, treat it as white and interpret all the other colors accordingly."

So the idea is that you put a white object in the lighting you are using, fill your camera's frame with it, focus, expose it and set a custom white balance. If you don't have a proper white card, get one. They are inexpensive. In a pinch, use a piece of white paper. The warm cards Doug mentioned fool the camera into making things a little bit warmer in color which is something everyone usually does in editing anyway. So why not save the time and shoot it warm?

Regardless, it's OK to set it all up, somehow put a white piece of paper on the chair or have someone hold it where the subject's face is and you move your camera so you can fill, expose, focus and then set your camera's WB.

What camera are you using?
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Old April 1st, 2012, 07:26 PM   #9
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

I understand, fully, the concept of WB and where the card SHOULD be. I think you are confusing my question with a lack of WB knowledge of how to WB. Thats not the case.

I've never setup a lighting set like this and was asking where the WB card should go with respect to that particular setup. I have several gray and white cards with which I usually balance. Close enough to where I can tweak it in post.

When I setup my testing video, I attempted to WB and could not get any light on the card from that offkey position, as you named it. I was setup exactly as in the Utube video. I couldnt get any light on the card when placing it over in the light either. The angle was wrong. I ended up using auto WB for the test and it wasnt bad by any means.
I haven't shot the real subjects yet, they will start in about 10days and will go on for about a year. WW2 pilots.

So tha'ts why I was asking. I just didnt specifically know where to put the WB card in that TYPE of lighting setup. Because I can tell you that there is NO light on the offkey side between the subject and the camera. I mean, thats the point of the lighting setup.

So again, its not a question of whether I understand why we should WB, what card to use or how to setup a WB. Its where to place the WB card in this type of lighting setup.

I use a Panny HMC40 and a couple JVC Eviero cameras.

I did read that website regards the warmcards. Appears as just an interpretation of the color of a WB card that they are selling. I suppose one could make an entire set of 100 cards with a slightly different shade each if one wanted to really really tweak the camera.
In the end it appears a matter of personal final interpretation. If not, then we would all be using the same exact color card to WB wouldnt we? Dont answer, thats a whole other discussion. I watched a movie the other night that was basically shot with a green filter. That shoots WB all to hell doesnt it? just my 2 cents.

Thanks for the help. I always learn something..
GL
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Old April 1st, 2012, 08:05 PM   #10
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Gary, you are making it more complicated that it needs to be. You simply want to illuminate the card with the same key light that is striking your subject's face. If their face can be in the light, then why can't the card?

How or where you hold the card to get the light on it doesn't matter -- as long as it is the same light. I normally have the subject hold it right in front of their nose so the key light is shining on it . . . fill the frame with the card (either by zooming or moving the camera) . . . hit the WB button . . . and I'm done. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

For example, on Carwood Lipton at :12, I would have him hold the card right in front of his face and angle the card so that it was lit by the light that is striking the right side of his face. Easy.

FYI, I would NEVER EVER shoot an interview on auto WB. I guarantee you that the color will not look as nice as a manual white balance with a WarmCard or even a regular white card. Plus, you don't have to risk having the color shift on you during the shot, which will happen sometimes. White balancing is very easy and takes just a few seconds, but it must be done. There's a reason why shows like Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes, 20/20, ESPN, NFL Films, etc. use WarmCards.

FYI #2. All things being equal, anything I can do "in-camera" will be superior to whatever someone else can grade in post. Why? Because it is being done at the full (usually 14-bit) depth of the camera before any image compression or of color data is thrown away before being recorded. The only exception MIGHT be if you are using a high-end camera that can record raw uncompressed or some flavor of S-LOG. But even then 9 times out of 10, I'll bet I can still get the look in-camera better and cleaner than grading. Of course, I do give up having as many options to me in post if I bake in my look, but if I know what my look will be, it's almost always going to be better to shoot it as close to how I want it as I can.

That's my two bits. Take it for whatever it is worth, but I've been doing this for 30 years and there isn't a major network or cable channel I have not shot for.

BTW, I think Band of Brothers is one of the greatest television productions of all time. TV (and most feature films) doesn't get any better. I just watched the entire series again on Blu-ray one weekend last month. Fantastic.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 08:28 PM   #11
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

I held a card up in front of my subjects face. Theres no light with which to get a reading. Um, thats my point. I couldnt get a light on the card from the angle my camera was placed. Maybe an angle is angle with respect to light anyway. As long as it is WB'd, I dont think the camera cares where it is placed with respect to a WB setting..
I'll figure something out.

appreciate your time, it was worth a shot. Agreed, anything done in camera makes post a whole lot easier..
good tip on lipton. I'll keep trying. Although my first real interview is the next time I shoot. LOL. A German WW2 ace at 17yrs old.

GL
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Old April 1st, 2012, 09:25 PM   #12
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

If there's enough light to light the subject for your camera, then there's gotta be enough to WB. Put the card on the lit side of the subject and face the card at the light so it is effectively fully shading the face. Move your camera to face the card without casting a shadow on the card (your light should be behind the camera at this point). Your camera should now be reading the light off the card that would normally be hitting your subject.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 10:28 PM   #13
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

You are exactly correct, Les. If you can light a face, you can certainly light a card. I cannot picture what the issue is.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 07:24 PM   #14
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Lee View Post
I held a card up in front of my subjects face. Theres no light with which to get a reading. Um, thats my point. I couldnt get a light on the card from the angle my camera was placed. Maybe an angle is angle with respect to light anyway. As long as it is WB'd, I dont think the camera cares where it is placed with respect to a WB setting..
I'll figure something out.

appreciate your time, it was worth a shot. Agreed, anything done in camera makes post a whole lot easier..
good tip on lipton. I'll keep trying. Although my first real interview is the next time I shoot. LOL. A German WW2 ace at 17yrs old.

GL
Gary,

Maybe thinking of it this way will help you.

Instead of the white card you'll actually be using, imagine that you're holding a mirror the same size as your white care in the same spot.

You want to use the mirror to re-direct the entire light directly into the camera lens. So you hold the mirror at whatever angle you need to do that. It's totally fine NOT to hold the card toward the subject anymore because that presents too small an edge toward the camera. And you're not reflecting the subject into the lens - you're reflecting the LIGHT into the lens.

Hope that makes it clearer.
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Old April 11th, 2012, 07:34 AM   #15
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Re: White balance for interview lighting?

I seldom white balance for interviews, especially indoors. Preset is the way to go. More warmth and more color. However, I still use tungsten lighting, not flouesent, perhaps that makes a difference?
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