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Old November 29th, 2008, 07:51 PM   #1
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White balance tips

Last night I was shooting video at a football game under artificial lights (metal halide). I used a white card to white balance the camera, and it showed a color temperature of 4000 degrees Kelvin. This is similar to what I experienced at our home field, and I thought it would be a setting that should work. When I got home I found that the footage was too blue, and I should have had used a higher color temperature setting. While it is easy enough to color correct in post production, I'd really like to get better at white balancing in the field so that I come back with balanced footage.

When white balancing the other night I tried several different times, facing in a couple of different directions. Each time I got a similar result.

Does anyone have any practical tips on how to know whether your white balance setting is good or not? Do you think I need to use some warm cards?

Thanks,
Tom
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Old November 29th, 2008, 08:49 PM   #2
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In FCP 6, i use the 3 way color corrector, find something that is white in it, use the little picker and it sets it to white.
Works very well.
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Old November 29th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #3
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Auto trace or warm cards

I also like to get the best balance possible balance while in the field. It saves time in post.

I would suggest getting some warm cards. They are good to have and are one possible solution for situations like you described. Also consider trying the auto white balance - it may give you a better balance once it accounts for the look of the uniforms and players on the field. I think part of the difficulty in the situation you described is that the light temperature on the middle of the field is likely different than wherever you were holding the white balance card. (This is of course assuming that you didn't hold the card in the middle of the field.)
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Old November 29th, 2008, 10:26 PM   #4
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I have no trouble color correcting in post... I just wish I didn't have to do it very often. I have no problems with our home field, but at other team's fields I seem to get it wrong as often as I get it right.

I think you are right Arvin... I tried balancing by facing several different directions, but I was standing at a particular location on the sidelines, at about mid field, and my card was an arm's length from the camera. Perhaps I should have moved to other locations like the endzone, or tried white balancing on the players uniforms (which include a lot of white).

I just kind of knew that the lights had a very high color temp... but the camera was telling me it was only 4000 degrees. After a while the shots in my monitor really started looking cold... but I didn't want to try to change colors mid-game.

Thanks for the tips.

Tom
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Old November 29th, 2008, 11:23 PM   #5
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sometimes its different on the field, where your camera is pointing. if you are able to get a white on the field, before the game, see what that does. I know it shouldnt be much different then the sidelines, but sometimes it just is.
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Old November 29th, 2008, 11:44 PM   #6
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I have noticed when using a white piece of paper to white balance , it is never accurate!
Paper manufacturers add cyan to brighten the white in the paper, so it is not a true white.

You must find a neutral white card or paper to do a proper white balance, not all whites are equal.

I was wondering if they made a neutral white balance card strictly for digital video???

They make 18% grey cards and photo vision makes a white balance and exposure calibration target for digital SLR cameras, which are perfect every time dead on !!
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When I use a white card indoors to white balance , i get green walls, from actual white walls ...lol

I actually let the EX1 do its own white balance in an average and it is really close.
I point the cam towards the main area I am shooting and hold the white balance execute
button and it is extremely close.

I also find that if I use fluorescent lighting say 5000k to 5600k my EX1 white balances on its own dead on as well.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 12:54 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. I was using the white card that came with the EX1... but I've also noticed that I can get a good auto white balance just by pointing to a scene that contains some bright whites (like the football uniforms). So maybe I'll just have to use "real scenes" instead of a white card.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 09:28 AM   #8
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Oftentimes, when shooting in an area, there will be multiple shades of white available. I shot video at a Gymnastics competition and there were white painted walls. The wall changed shades, subtly, around the room. I would zoom in and grab a balance in a variety of locations and then zoom out to compare and simply selected the most pleasing one.

I avoid auto WB.

Recently, I was shooting video at a dramatic event - long-form stuff that lasted over an hour. I was the only camera. I grabbed a white balance and didn't notice that my auto-WB was on. During the first two minutes, my white balance gradually faded from a good level to a very yellow level (incandescent lighting). This was a bit of a pain to correct in post - sliding white balance should be avoided. Auto WB will adjust for changes and make decisions for you - in a controlled lighting area, this can be very bad.

I also carry a white card and warm cards with me for this purpose. Although, my warm-card kit does not include the newer Warm 1/4 color - which I wish I had. I tend to stick with either white or Warm 1/2.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 02:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Vaughan View Post
Thanks for the advice. I was using the white card that came with the EX1... but I've also noticed that I can get a good auto white balance just by pointing to a scene that contains some bright whites (like the football uniforms). So maybe I'll just have to use "real scenes" instead of a white card.
Most cards aren't white. I'd suggest a WhiBal card, which works fantastically for me. Though, you really need access to the light. If you stick the card on a colored bench, the WB reading will include that color cast. Also, include it in your scene as a reference just in case the WB goes wrong and you need to correct in Post.

Another issue may be shutter speed with cyclical lighting. With video, you generally don't have to worry about this as the shutter speed is usually 1/60 of a second. However, with my DSLR, I noticed that I have to set the shutter speed to 1/30 to make sure to average a couple of cycles as my DSLR uses only one image for the WB. Does the EX1 use more than one frameof data for the WB? I'm also wondering if the rolling shutter could affect WB as different parts of the image will be illluminated by the various phases of the light cycle.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 08:21 PM   #10
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I'll white balance with an 18% gray card then grab several takes of a 3-step chip card with black gray and white on it. I used this setup on a shoot where I had a lot of daylight spill onto a set lit with tungsten and managed to get it to work with only a couple shots being off. The entire set was white as well.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 08:50 PM   #11
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I'm assuming that Tom zoomed in on the white card enough that there was NO other image area visible to the camera, but it never hurts to ask. Also, I've never been absolutely clear about the actual exposure setting to use when doing the WB setting. I usually make sure that I've cleared any zebra patterns away from the white card image before I hit the "Set" button but I'm never sure how dark to make it before I set it.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 01:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dave Morrison View Post
I'm assuming that Tom zoomed in on the white card enough that there was NO other image area visible to the camera, but it never hurts to ask. Also, I've never been absolutely clear about the actual exposure setting to use when doing the WB setting. I usually make sure that I've cleared any zebra patterns away from the white card image before I hit the "Set" button but I'm never sure how dark to make it before I set it.
This is a good question. I've been using automatic metering such that the grey card is a spike at 50% on the histogram, both for camcorder and DSLR.
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