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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old February 20th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #1
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White balance question

I just got my EX-3 this week and very much looking forward to learning how to use it properly. My Canon XHA1 is now my B-camera for multi-cam work. I admit, with some shame, that I know next to nothing about white balance. With the Canon, since I didn't know better, I just left the AWB on and shot like an amateur. It's time to start to shoot like a pro and I need to do some reading on this, etc.

However, I have a school musical to shoot real soon and I will not have a chance to learn about white balance before the show. Does any one have any suggestions as to what white balance setting I should choose that will at least come close to being proper for this sort of thing? And if I use the same values, are the Canon and Sony cameras likely to be close when it comes to white balance?

I plan to shoot at 30p, if that makes any difference to your answer.

Thanks for your help.

--Nathan Lawrence
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Old February 20th, 2009, 08:50 PM   #2
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Why don't you want to just use a white card?
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Old February 20th, 2009, 09:52 PM   #3
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if I am reading that right, you just dont know how to white balance at all, right?

best thing is use something white (like brian said, a white card, piece of white paper, in a pinch white wall or someones shirt). my switches are set up so A and B are both manual. that way I can have one set for outdoors and one indoors on some shoots and flip between the two as needed.

in your case though, set a white card in the area you will be shooting most, and get your white there. you should be good to go as long as they arent dimming the lights up and down and changing they color temps too much (or if the sun is beating in through the windows or something).

oh, and as far as white balancing goes on these cameras, you have to hold the button in until you get a color reading, then you can let go. you cant just hit the button.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:33 PM   #4
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And zoom in so that white fills the entire frame.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 02:02 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ian Planchon View Post
oh, and as far as white balancing goes on these cameras, you have to hold the button in until you get a color reading, then you can let go. you cant just hit the button.
Hi Ian,

Sorry to be a party pooper, but I just hit my WB button, let it go and the camera adjusts itself automatically. Once OK, it displays DONE and then the DONE disappears after a couple of seconds. Same goes for Black Balance (via menu of course).

Nathan, when WB, ensure you do so in the final lighting setup (reservations apply) with the exposure set up correctly. If over exposed, you will be notified by the camera display to try again.

Best wishes guys.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 08:03 AM   #6
 
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Nathan, to save yourself time, headache, and heartache, I would highly recommend Vortex Media's "Mastering the Sony PMW-EX3." You will up and running within four hours, and it's worth every penny (and then some).

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No, I am not connected with Vortex Media.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 09:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Issko View Post
Hi Ian,

Sorry to be a party pooper, but I just hit my WB button, let it go and the camera adjusts itself automatically. Once OK, it displays DONE and then the DONE disappears after a couple of seconds. Same goes for Black Balance (via menu of course).

Nathan, when WB, ensure you do so in the final lighting setup (reservations apply) with the exposure set up correctly. If over exposed, you will be notified by the camera display to try again.

Best wishes guys.
huh, didnt know that. I came from beta cams orginally, so I guess it was habbit, and never tried it anyway else. good to know!
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Old February 21st, 2009, 11:20 AM   #8
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Nathan:

Also be aware of the light source when you white balance at your musical. You want the white balance to be taken off "white light"--basically an unfiltered, non-gelled light source.

If they have a bunch of colored red or blue or orange lights mixed in on the stage when you white balance, you'll get an odd reading, and the video won't look correct, compared to what you saw on the stage.

Some times with stage lighting, if you can't get a spotlight or clean light to use before the event begins, using the 3200 pre-set will get you close enough for starters.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 01:43 PM   #9
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Guys-

Thanks much for your replies (and if anyone else wants to chime in please do-- it's all very helpful).

Jay- I did get the Vortex EX-3 DVDs and they are excellent. The white balance section however, assumes a better understanding of white balance than what I have...

I should have a chance to at least look on some websites today for some basic info.

Bill-- your suggestion to use the 3200 pre-set is what I'll start with if I can't get some clean light at first.

Can I take my WB reading from a location closer to stage than what i will be ultimately shooting from? I'll be up in the balcony for the show, but I don't think I would be able to zoom in enough for the white to fill the entire frame.

--Nathan
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Old February 21st, 2009, 04:52 PM   #10
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Distance doesn't affect the light. You must balance to the light on the stage, so you do it there under an unfiltered light (as said by Bill). Once you've established WB (you could also use a colour temperature meter) leave it alone. Also note that it is easier to colour correct in post a constant error in WB. Generally the lighting will be tungsten, which will be close to 3200K for unfiltered undimmed.
Whites in a dimly lit scene (ie key light dimmed) will appear white to the eye but will record orange because the key colour temperature has been reduced, but you can correct that in post.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 04:58 PM   #11
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Another Bill here, Nathan. Sure, you can move your cameras closer to your white card for white balancing. Large white towels have worked well for me in a pinch. As the other Bill mentioned, avoid balancing with gelled lights in use. Get there early enough and light techs will usually accommodate you.

As for balancing using a spot, to my eye (I've never actually tested) they tend to be too blue for white balance purposes. Stick with non-gelled general stage lighting at 100% and you'll be fine, or when in doubt, 3200k pre-set.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 07:29 PM   #12
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huh, didnt know that. I came from beta cams orginally, so I guess it was habbit, and never tried it anyway else. good to know!
According to the EX3 manual, do it just like your Beta Cam. Fill the frame with white, hit the switch and let the camera do its thing.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 09:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
According to the EX3 manual, do it just like your Beta Cam. Fill the frame with white, hit the switch and let the camera do its thing.
the cameras I used to use, you had to hold the switch till it gave a reading, unless I am rembering it wrong. tried the ex3 today, nice to know you can just hit it and let go.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 05:30 PM   #14
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Warm Cards

I use Warm Cards for all color (white) balancing. NEVER just pickup a piece of white paper or use someone's white clothing unless it is an emergency and you have no choice.
Warm Cards are pricey, but they will affect everything you shoot from this day forward, and for the rest of your career. I consider them a must . . . I have not white balanced from a white surface for a very long time. I will never go back to white balancing with a white card.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 08:28 PM   #15
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I have been told to use a Kodak gray card to white balance (the gray side, not the white side).

So far, it seems to work. Is there a problem I should be looking for?

Pete
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