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Old November 21st, 2009, 03:55 PM   #46
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I've just started experimenting with warming cards and I have been very happy with the results. I use the lightest blue card and it is just adding a healthy warm tone to the skin. It is very subtle. I am using it with my two matched VariCams also.
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 12:30 PM   #47
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Over the past few months, I have shot indepth interviews of almost 70 people, all interiors, and many in crummy, empty meeting rooms in hotels. The warm cards have been a life saver. I love them and would not live without them. You cannot duplicate what these warm cards do in post. I would say that, on this project, the warm cards, Tiffen filters, and Chimera window patterns, have enhanced my scenes beyond what I could describe here.
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I'm totally with you on this, Brian, and think you make the best point here: "You can not duplicate what these warm cards do in post." I also use specific Tiffen filters and Chimera window patterns, etc., if I'm shooting interviews.

The consistency of warm cards is a godsend.

Back when I was shooting with Ike D and E cameras (long time ago!), I used the blue gels to warm the scenes. These were always reliable, but the color temperature tended to vary depending on distance from lens during the balance and reflectance. The cards are always spot-on.

I have the large and small versions, but I tend to use the small ones more because I can pack them for traveling more easily.
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 12:46 PM   #48
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Probably the ultimate test?

I purchased (at huge expense I may add) a set of DSC warm cards some time ago. Five? Six years ago?

I lost them on a shoot a couple of weeks ago. Mea Culpa - it was one of those shoots, set up, pull down, set up, pull down. Somebody found them and probably chucked them.

Well, despite the horrible cost, I have ordered my new set.

I simply cannot be without them. But this time, I got the cards from Vortex rather than DSC. Will be interesting to see how their Fluorescent cards work as that's something I could have done with over the years.

For the disbelievers: a bit of white paper is NOT a white balance. Check out the DSC white balance, and I hope the Vortex is just as good.
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 03:20 PM   #49
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Lee Filter bookis right on...

Leonard,

You are so right about the big square Lee filter book. I was taught to use that book by a great director/DP about 12 years ago, and I'm on my second book, the first one still around but a bit beat up.

At one point it was hard to find the square book as they were giving away one about 2/3 as wide which won't quite cut it.

I also find that 1/4 blue and 1/8 green often does wonders for flesh tones, and with this book you can tweak away until you get exactly what you want, obviously provided that you have an accurate and well-calibrated monitor!

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Old November 24th, 2009, 03:01 AM   #50
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I purchased (at huge expense I may add) a set of DSC warm cards some time ago. Five? Six years ago?

For the disbelievers: a bit of white paper is NOT a white balance. Check out the DSC white balance, and I hope the Vortex is just as good.
Matt, I use the Vortex Media Warm cards and use the white balance card on the back of the warm cards. They are just great. Warmcards also come with a set whiuch are pocket size, and I keep these with me all the time in my camera bag. The lightest blue card works a treat for talking heads, as someone else has already mentioned.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #51
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I used white and grey cards for years but was never that happy with them on my PMW-EX3. I purchased at set of Vortex Warm Cards (from a UK dealer) and absolutely love them.

The big cards are great for interviews but as Steve mentions, the pocket sized ones are great for constant resetting.

The thing I noticed the most about using these cards is the consistency I have with my footage. I rarely need to colour correct anymore.

Highly recommended!
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Old November 24th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #52
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Do I spot a particular trend here?

Three fans of warm cards, all hailing from the UK where the sky is routinely overcast so it's like filming inside a large tupperware sandwich box.

Anything - ANYTHING to drop a little Mediterranean sunshine in our voxpops, a little warmth, a little golden something-or-other.

Perhaps warm cards are at their best in Blighty?

Just unwrapped the WarmCards and stuffed them straight in the camera bag. The round-the-neck set - I guess you carry the camera over to the shot area and hold the card at strap length in front of the lens? No doubt I'll get over the inevitable self conscious feeling of wandering around with the cards hanging round my neck.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 09:47 AM   #53
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I'm totally with you on this, Brian, and think you make the best point here: "You can not duplicate what these warm cards do in post."
I'd like a bit more clarification on this. The basic physics of this make the statement seem less than accurate. You have a LOT more control of color in post, though with the small cameras it is after compression rather than before.

There is no "white balance" on a film camera and other than doing filters to balance for daylight or tungsten, I am not aware of a lot of cinematographers doing subtle coloring with filters either. It's left for post.

So what exactly are the warm cards doing that cannot be done in post?
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Old November 24th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #54
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I'd like a bit more clarification on this. The basic physics of this make the statement seem less than accurate.
PMJI...

Filtration always means taking something away from what's coming in.

You can filter out light at the input stage (before the lens with a matte box). You can filter out signals at the pre-compression image processing stage (at the white balance/Picture Profile stage), or you can filter out signals at the compression stage (to minimise aliasing) or so on, until you get to your edited sequence which you send to Color (or whatever).

A well placed grad on the camera will preserve details that - had it not been there - would never be even SEEN by Color because they'd have been off the sensor's scale in-camera.

A well-white-balanced camera will ensure a proper spread of colours that can be enhanced and tweaked at post, but as we've seen with the EX1's oversensitivity to red, this can be skewed by the camera's own idiosyncrasies.

By using warmcards - or rather more crucially by white balancing using proper white sources (be they ever so maybe skewed towards warm), rather than fixing it in post, I've seen better rendition of overall colour because they were there to start with, not having to be amplified up from below the noise floor.

Don't get me wrong - I'd eschew a promist for Magic Bullet Looks any day, but to get a good balance of colours onto the sensor may require some filtration, and to get the best balance of what the sensors can do to allow the more limited codec to do its job well may require some more finesse in setting their levels correctly - which means using a white card, or maybe Warm cards.

Because if you don't, you're amplifiying low level signals or pushing down high or even clipped signals to compensate, and therein lies noise, clipping, incorrect gamma,

And quite frankly if you're up against the clock to get the edit out and the pictures have to look nice (whether it's budget or deadline), warm card shots are quicker to render than colour correctors!
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Old November 24th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by Matt Daviss View Post
Do I spot a particular trend here?

Three fans of warm cards, all hailing from the UK where the sky is routinely overcast so it's like filming inside a large tupperware sandwich box.

Anything - ANYTHING to drop a little Mediterranean sunshine in our voxpops, a little warmth, a little golden something-or-other.

Perhaps warm cards are at their best in Blighty?

Just unwrapped the WarmCards and stuffed them straight in the camera bag. The round-the-neck set - I guess you carry the camera over to the shot area and hold the card at strap length in front of the lens? No doubt I'll get over the inevitable self conscious feeling of wandering around with the cards hanging round my neck.
LOL :) I shot with mine in Corfu for three weeks, does that count :) The sky isn't routinely overcast in the Isle of Man, it's often sunny with cotton wool clouds, but your sending all your bad weather our way lately Heh!
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Old November 24th, 2009, 10:21 AM   #56
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Please don't think I am being argumentative here, I am just trying to wrap my head around the issues.

If the camera is over senstive to red then white balancing on a "normal" white card would tend to skew colors slightly toward red. This makes sense, and using a card that is slightly more cyan should recenter that.

I don't tend to record with such saturation in the camera so that ANY color would be off the scale, but I can understand this might be an issue for those who try to get as much color in the camera as possible when shooting.

Are the warm cards you guys are buying specific to the sensor issues of the EX1? It would seem that a card that is specific to the EX1 would be awesome in providing a good white balance, but one that is not, might solve one issue while creating another. Reigning in the oversenstivity to red, while perhaps shifting the spectrum too far in another direction.

If you are against the clock, I totally agree that doing something in the field to help correct makes great sense. I was just trying to get a feel why someone would want to "color" the image in the field with what seems a rather crude tool, rather than handling things in post. I could understand maybe shooting a chroma du monde chart which would certainly allow for accurate correction on every axis, but the warm cards just seemed strange to me.

Thank you for trying to clarify for me.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #57
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If the camera is over senstive to red then white balancing on a "normal" white card would tend to skew colors slightly toward red. This makes sense, and using a card that is slightly more cyan should recenter that.
Actually, it's even more skewed than you think. An EX1 is oversensitive to the last shreds of red (thanks to Mr Adams and Mr Wilt et al for such in-depth proof of this). So one may think the last thing you want to do is show a blue card to an EX1 and say 'Here, boy! This is WHITE!' so it can cancel out the last few drips of blue to compensate. But it doesn't quite work out like that. In fact, I hardly ever used the Warm cards and relied on the white card of my DSC. But that, especially in difficult and mixed lighting setups, was a crucial difference.

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I can understand this might be an issue for those who try to get as much color in the camera as possible when shooting.
Indeed. The awful truth is that, when great sound, nice composition and popular content are done, the people who watch television and web videos like sharp, colourful images. You can play with film looks, Skintone over Teal, Bleach Bypass and the rest all you like, but if you want joy-joy happy feelings in the brains of viewers, make it colourful, make it sharp. Think Fisher Price. But the nurse says I must rest now...

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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Are the warm cards you guys are buying specific to the sensor issues of the EX1?
Speaking for myself? NO. Absolutely not. Used them with DSR570, Z1, even risked life and limb by offering them to the DoPs I worked with (with the defence that I was an Editor who directs, and DOES NOT want to fix things in post). Time and again, I've seen shots benefit from a white set from a proper white source, and miss the point with a bit of paper from the PA's clipboard or the ceiling of the room we're in.

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I was just trying to get a feel why someone would want to "color" the image in the field with what seems a rather crude tool, rather than handling things in post.
Just think of it as being a dab of foundation or a slight wash of amber, not an in-camera effect. I'd not go much further than the 1/4 or 1/2 Warm card in the Vortex shoot.

If I sound all kind of hot and bothered about this, it's only because I've been playing with my new Vortex cards and will probably upload my test movie to YouTube imminently. But even the test movie is just seeing what happens with the cards, so it's not exactly destined for PVC...
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Old November 24th, 2009, 01:10 PM   #58
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Warm Card demo on YouTube

Okay folks, here you go:

YouTube - Warm Cards - a very unscientific test

And for the record, this is not a major scientific test, just the results of my mucking around this afternoon. Not one iota of tweaking was done to either the editing nor the compression, it's all White Balance and just a smidgen of iris.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #59
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I don't get all the raving about these cards - pro or con. Its a nice idea fine if you want to buy them, but so what? Didn't any of you guys cheat your balance using gels before discovering warm cards? Its an idea as old as video.

Could one of the many apostles for warm cards here please tell me what you can accomplish with a $100 cumbersome container of cards that I can't with a free 2" swatchbook containing blue and green fractional gels in my pocket so they are available all the time. One that gives me more choices for mixing green and blue ( which I almost always do) and even allows me to go in the other direction on rare occasions. ( I've cheated my color using CTO's and magentas and even theatricals to get unusual effects.) It also allows me to use any white I can find in a fast and dirty situation and make it work even if its a little off.

The only difference is a controllable white but that's not too big an issue in my experience ( paper seems to work just fine) and if you were concerned about it you could just always carry the same single white card.

I've been shooting for 25 years. I've never seen a warm card on a shoot, but everyone I know has a swatchbook or a jungle book in his pocket.

To continue the the rant: What is the name of %#&)@ is the argument here about warming your color balance about? I'll eat my shoe and buy dinner for anyone who can show me that I've compromised my noise by adding 1/4 blue to the white balance or who can tell the difference between doing it in post or in the camera with warm cards, gels, a paint box or a cheap tin of children's water colors. Whatever way works for you. If you care that much you shouldn't be using an EX-1.

Chances are your monitor is off anyway - as well as every other monitor you might find including the so called color critical one at the post facility that doesn't match any other monitor the show will ever be seen on!

Sorry I'll go back on my meds now.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 01:58 PM   #60
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I don't get all the raving about these cards - pro or con. Its a nice idea fine if you want to buy them, but so what?... Sorry I'll go back on my meds now.
Leonard - no worries here mate! But let's bend it in a slightly different direction: white set in general.

What would give the best results: a scrap of cheap photocopying paper held on a dark clipboard, a bit of white clothing, or a card made and tested to carefully controlled standards (...and sold at a robust and healthy premium admittedly)?

If colours are poorly represented in the first instance (dim), and we colour correct in post, are we i) amplifying a low quality signal, or ii) calling upon the 'spirit of exposure' to create new information out of thin air from deep within our edit suite?

Whether one uses the warms or not, I'd still happily champion the use of a decent CamWhite or white set card - kinda like the old days of shooting in studios?
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