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Old November 24th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #61
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Matt - The offer stands. I'll eat my shoe if you can show me a noticeable difference and anyone who has shot with me can tell you I care very much about color balance and getting a good look in the camera.

On a high priced shoot I have an engineer, a pricey camera , a paint box, and an expensive chip chart if not a Chroma DuMonde on the set. That's control. Nevertheless it still usually needs correction in post when placed in context with other shots and frankly isn't usually a world apart from what I could do with a swatchbook and a piece of paper.

I have no objection to warm cards, and I'm sure they work for many people, but I do not get either the huge amount of controversy and or the outsized accolades they've generated here.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #62
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This is going to turn into one of those nights debating Astroturf, I can tell.

But before it goes that far, I chopped this out. It's not exactly Cambelles, and it wasn't going to be used as any form of rigourous test, but it sure does show the benefit of a decent white set on a good white card.

No, it won't have you reaching for the ketchup and putting your shoe in the oven yet, but there is more red in the upper portion, the orange berries on the right have more detail, the sky is far more neutral, yada yada yada. The information that's in the top half cannot be in the bottom half as it's a balanced attenuation (Okay, looked at immediately after the previous 'ATW' shot, it looks warm - but this is the neutral card, but I digress).

And here's the Astroturf moment: I'm arguing for white cards over scraps of paper at the moment.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #63
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In my opinion, there are several reasons why using WarmCards is better than adjusting the Picture Profile, using gels, grading in post, or other methods of warming the picture.

First, WarmCards save time. To set a proper white balance on a typical ENG/EFP shoot, you MUST manually white balance the camera at the location where you’re shooting. If you only use a plain white card, then you also have to take the time to manually adjust the PP to warm-up or cool-down the image. But, with WarmCards, all you have to do is aim the camera at the card, press the WB button, and you’re ready to shoot immediately.

What if you are a freelancer and won’t edit the footage, and can’t trust the client to see your “vision” of how you think your footage should be graded? Most of us are not working on big-budget productions where we can sit in on the post and offer suggestions for grading. Most freelancers hand off the footage at the end of the shoot and never see it again. I prefer to have my footage as close to perfect as I can get it – when I shoot it.

Second, WarmCards are designed to do more than just boost the overall Kelvin temperature. The four shades of WarmCards were chosen to emphasize the hues that make skin tones look best. Think of it this way: Using the Picture Profile menu to crudely make the whole picture warmer is like only having a Bass or Treble knob on an audio system. On the other hand, using WarmCards is like applying a pre-set Equalizer setting across the whole spectrum of colors. In most instances, especially when shooting interviews, the effect you get from WarmCards is noticeably more pleasing than just cranking up the color temperature.

Third, there’s no guess work involved. The effect that WarmCards provide is predictable, repeatable, and consistent. Once you’ve experimented with WarmCards and see the effect they have, you’ll have no qualms about using WarmCards without even checking a monitor. Two crews in two locations can add the same amount of warmth to their shots by using the same grade of WarmCard. That’s not so easy to do with gels or adjusting camera menus.

Fourth, with WarmCards there’s no labor-intensive color correcting footage in post or waiting for time-consuming rendering to finish. And what if you have to give (or show) the raw footage to a client? Can you count on them to process the footage so it looks the way you intended it? Some people may enjoy color grading every shot. But a lot of us don’t have the time or any interest in color grading unnecessarily. I don’t care how fast your edit system is, not rendering is always going to be faster than rendering.

Fifth, WarmCards includes a Minus Green card for getting a cleaner white balance under common fluorescent lighting. There’s no easy way to do that by changing the Picture Profile.

Sixth, have you ever tried to white balance through a gel while the camera is on your shoulder? With WarmCards you just lay the card down or have someone hold it, zoom in, and press the WB button. Gels are not that easy.

Seventh, if you decide to use the WB Offset feature of the camera to warm-up the white balance 100% of the time , that doesn’t allow you much control on a shot-by-shot basis. And if you forget that WB Offset is activated, you may shoot video with a white balance you didn’t intend.

WarmCards aren’t for everyone, and the look can be achieved many different ways, but when you compare the cost, consistency, and time saved by using WarmCards, it is well worth the $90 investment.

If you want more information about WarmCards, there’s plenty more details on Vortex Media’s website.http://www.vortexmedia.com/WC1.html
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Old November 24th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #64
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This may not add much to the discsussion, but I'll admit up front that I've drunk the kool-aid. I bought a set of the Vortex Warm Cards recently and I wouldn't shoot without them for all the reasons that Doug outlines. I've been doing video for over 30 years and most of it, event style and run and gun shooting where I had precious little time to do a proper white balance and often shot in available light, often a mix of sources.

For my type of shooting, being able to get warm skin tones in all conditions has been a god-send. I really appreciate that I can get a consistent look in all the conditions I shoot in and quickly at that.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 03:47 PM   #65
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OK this is my last attempt at being a spoiler.

I can see that it might make a production feel more confident if they didn't know their shooters in different towns and couldn't guarantee they had a swatchbook. Gels fade over time I guess as well though I still think its just not all that precise at best.

In my experience no 2 cameras actually balance exactly the same or even no one camera balances the same under different kinds of light. Point 2 EX-1's or any camera at the same card and I often need to add a swatchbook correction to one camera to get them closer, so I don't think any specific card is going to guarantee perfect matches any better than a gel would. In mixed light the angle is critical as well.

Re: gels while handheld - its a a bit of a juggling act , but its not very hard and it is fast, can be accomplished with a piece of paper and gel book in my pocket or often a piece of paper on a desk while running around doing B roll. This is how most people work.

I do have a question though. I tried to see if there are warm cards that mix green and blue correction, but didn't see any description on the web site of what the 8 cards were. I often switch between different proportions of 1/8 to even 1/2 CTB and the same in green. That's a lot of cards.

I'll leave this discussion as before. They sound just fine if you like them, and there is no reason not to buy and use them. I wouldn't mind having a set, but its not the second coming and they didn't invent cheating a color balance.

Bye bye
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Old November 24th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #66
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Leonard,

I agree, they're not the second coming and Vortex Media didn't invent the concept of cheating the white balance -- just as Mac didn't invent the computer and Sony didn't invent the camera. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and clearly WarmCards have a few advantages over other methods.

You're also correct that no two cameras are going to match perfectly no matter what you white balance on, but WarmCards can get them dang close. I can point to several instances where we've had people with the same camera, the same scene file, and the same designated WarmCard shoot nearly matching footage in different cities. I'd rather grade a 1% difference than 5% or 10%.

However, I disagree that most people white balance through a gel to cheat the color balance. Maybe in the past, but not for the last 8 years. I'm sure some people still do it that way, but I haven't seen anyone use a swatch since 2005. Believe or not, WarmCards are the "norm" on most ENG/EFP productions (including NFL Films, 60 Minutes, 20/20, Frontline, etc). We'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

To answer your questions about a Green/Warm combo card, there isn't one of those.

PS. You're not a spoiler. It's always good to hear other opinions and ideas.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #67
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I think one really has to look at what is going to be happening in front of the camera to make a decision on whether or not this is a good way to go.

While I agree that consistency is important, I can be consistent on the white card I use when I shoot. I am not multi-camming, so that's not really a consideration.

In the "narrative" work I've shot, the grade usually doesn't tend toward warm, so a set of warming cards would actually be counterproductive. If I was shooting interviews then I could see it as helpful. In a lot of my shoots, I am more interested in accurate color rendition more so that "pleasing" color rendition, and again the warm cards would be counterproductive.

I can certainly see their use for those for whom the footage out of the camera is the footage that is going to be displayed. I guess having the luxury on nearly everything I shoot to grade to my heart's desire has somewhat spoiled me.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #68
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Doug - well my suggestion is to make some cards mixing green and blue. I almost always do that and so do most of my friends. Would have no use for the cards otherwise. The most typical pack being 1/4 B + 1/8 G. Usually I find Blue alone a touch too yellow.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #69
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Thanks for the suggestion. I'll see what we can do about it next year.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 04:50 PM   #70
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Thanks Doug.

Lest I sound too negative - they are a good idea and have no doubt help a great many people - especially those who never thought of cheating white balance beforehand.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 06:36 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard Levy View Post
Didn't any of you guys cheat your balance using gels before discovering warm cards? Its an idea as old as video.
(Blushing sheepishly.) Uh, being new to video... What is a swatchbook, where do you get the free one, and how do you use it in this context?
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Old November 24th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #72
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A swatchbook is a small collection of sample lighting gels used for lights in film, video and/or theatrical productions. Most are just 1" by 2 1/2 or so but some manufacturers make them larger - about 2" square. They are made by Lee, Rosco, cinegel etc and are usually available free from a video lighting supply shop.

Among the samples are all the fractional CTO's CTB's and green and magenta gels as well as dozens of other theatrical and diffusion material. The book is held together with a single pin so you can rotate one or more gels out to look at. The size is just enough to cover a lens when shooting a white card, so if you want a 1/4 Blue for warming, you just pull it out- hold over the lens and aim at a white card. If you think you need a touch more magenta then add a 1/8 green etc. You can dial in exactly what you want while looking at a monitor, or if you know your camera, always use a certain combination. Stays in my pocket or a fanny pack all the time. They get messy after a while but are free to replace.

Unfortunately Rosco stopped making their best one called a "Jungle Book" which only had the commonly used correction colors. "Jungle book" became a generic name like Kleenex. Nowadays you need to get a much thicker book that has dozens of theatrical gels as well. Rosco should have kept making them and sold them at a decent price because every cameraman I know cried when they disappeared. I carry a Lee book around now.
If you get one though make sure it has the fractional CTO's etc. If its only for theatrical gels it won't have those. I don't know if you can get them on the web.

If you can't get one then I would actually suggest getting warm cards for sure as the next best thing unless you made your own swatchbook from gels.

Actually Doug if I you made a good quality swatchbook for a reasonable price I'd buy that rather than carry the full Lee inventory around with me. You could sell alot of them.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 08:33 PM   #73
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OK, thank you very much! Now I see what you are talking about. I just did not realize it was called a swatchbook (English is not my native tongue, even though I live in the US). So, you place it in front of the lens before white balancing and remove it after. I'll have to get one of those (I live in the boonies, but will ask the director of our local community theatre where I could get one). I agree it would offer much more flexibility since it would allow going for a more creative look.

I can see advantages of both approaches, the warm cards for most situations, the gels for special looks.

Recently I saw a TV commercial for some drug, I think against Alzheimer's, and they used a very cold look for before the drug and a warm one for after. I figured most viewers never realized it on the conscious level, but it seemed quite effective on the unconscious level for anyone dealing with the disease in their family.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 03:56 AM   #74
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My reason for purchasing the set of warm cards was:

1. Very easy to use
2. Convenient and consistent
3. Robust and easy to clean
4. They come in two sizes
5. Readily available
6. They work
7. Saves time CC in post
8. Not badly priced (when you think of the number of cards in the pack)
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Old November 29th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #75
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Several years ago I had a conversation with the owner of DSC Labs. He differentiated his product as being superior because he took the inverse color of the average caucasion skin tone as seen on a vectorscope and plotted the cards blue tone from that value. He then noted that the values are true values, ie, 1/4 is 1/4,. If you note there is a difference in the blue tones and the saturation of the competitors cards.
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