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Old November 9th, 2010, 10:37 PM   #1
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EX1 White Balance Problem?

I wonder if others have had issue with the EX1 when using it in full-auto - or when shooting manually with ATW (auto white balance) engaged. I've got two EX1's which I have rarely used with ATW turned on. Tonight I wanted to take a quick shot or two and figured I'd try shooting using auto white balance. It looks so bad I can't believe it. I've tried everything, and nothing makes shooting in indoor tungsten look close to decent. However, I got out my Z7U to see if it would handle the lighting issue better than the EX1's -- and it looked good in auto white.

Since I normally use a white card to get a custom white balance, it still kind of bugs me that I can't get the EX1's to work in auto. The video shot with the EX1's in full auto or with ATW engaged the tungsten lighting on video looks VERY reddish. Both EX1's are behaving the same way. I've read the manual and changed settings etc. to make certain that I'm truly shooting with ATW turned on.

Any suggestions about this would be helpful.

Ian
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Old November 10th, 2010, 12:11 AM   #2
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I don't white balance in the camera. I hate it. And under NO circumstances would I ever, EVER use ATW. I don't care what camera it is.

My solution?

Set one preset to 5500k, set the other to 3500k. Select the closest one, shoot. If it needs to be corrected in post, I can make ONE basic correction and get my footage where I need it to be to start grading. With ATW, I've got to keyframe the corrections.

I once had to do a cleanup of some underwater footage that was going to a film festival. The shooter had used ATW. I used several hundred keyframes in a 4 minute video to get that thing balanced. I swore that day I would never shoot with ATW and never again agree to correct footage for anyone who had.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 03:24 AM   #3
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Interesting reply Perrone.

Something that has always baffled me, although I can understand filmaker wanting perfection etc. I colour corrected a production and had the colours looking spot on when viewed on a studio monitor. I took the finnished film to my client who then viewed it on a TV screen. The colours looked awful, needless to say say his TV screen was not set up correctly. The same holds true for audio, we spend so much time cleaning up sound tracks, do another take because a car or airplane can be heard in the distant. Again when the average person watches this on their TV set, I suspect cars, neighbours, electronic tools etc are all in the background whils viewing.

Maybe we all expect too much perfection when 95% of the time the viewer will not notice or be aware of the difference.

This not to say we should give up on trying to acheive perfection, just bear in mind we are probably too critical on our own work.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 05:16 AM   #4
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Hi Ian,

As you know, in the past I posted on similar experience with the EX1 ATW capabilities; I could not (and still can't) understand why a camera of this class has some features that simply do not deliver - while on more basic cameras (like the V1E), it simply worked as expected (in fact, I just realized I often used to leave my V1E on ATW, and never had to worry about the WB - the ATW was so fast and accurate!)...

I have long come to terms with the hard facts, and adopted the very same approach of Perrone's: always use a preset (rather than ATW or even AWB which also is error-prone). This way, even if my WB is off, at least it's consistently so over the whole duration of the recorded event, making adjustment easy in post.

The only exception to this rule is when I'm forced to use the Tiffen T1 filter, in whih case I carefully AWB and memorize to one of the WB switch positions. In situations like this, i.e. when the switch is not in the Preset position, I put some tape over the AWB button right after I have measured and memorized the right balance, so that I don't push it inadvertently in the rush of shooting.

To answer you question in the email you sent me: yes, I'd say the ATW is now more responsive with the newest firmware, but the improvement is not big enough for me to ever use ATW again.

Cheers

Piotr
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Old November 10th, 2010, 04:50 PM   #5
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and what is the reason you folks don't white balance to a white or warm card? Has something changed since the days everyone did this?
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Old November 10th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #6
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and what is the reason you folks don't white balance to a white or warm card? Has something changed since the days everyone did this?
Knowledge and understand has increased. Or at least that's my case. I've learned how problematic it is to do that to footage in camera. Just as I've learned to leave my camera on daylight setting ALL THE TIME unless it would clip the reds.

There are much better ways to get my colors than to do a white balance in the camera. Though if I am shooting live, or if I have to hand off right after shooting, I'll do it. If I am going to edit the work, then I don't white balance in camera.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 05:23 PM   #7
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I rarely white balance outdoors in daylight. I have the WB preset programmed for 6000K and I prefer to allow the color balance to change naturally as the lighting changes. Sometimes "white" is supposed to look warmer or cooler, because that's the way it looked in real life. Why would I want to cancel that out?

Indoors is another story because there isn't a dependable and consistent light source like the sun. All indoor lighting is different and is affected by the walls, ceilings, window, etc. So you either have to WB with the camera . . . or deal with the hassles of grading footage in post and waiting for it to render. Some people prefer to do it in post. But I prefer to shoot all my footage so that it looks almost perfect right out of the camera. Why mess around with grading and rendering if you can get it perfect in the camera? ANY grading or rendering causes a loss of quality compared to the original raw footage. If I can avoid degrading my footage my simple setting a manual white balance before I begin rocording, why wouldn't I? I can still fine-tune it later if I absolutely feel it is needed. Whether I'm handing raw footage to a client, or doing the editing myself, my shooting techniques are exactly the same.

However, since a normal white balance on a white card is usually too cool, I almost always use a WarmCard or the camera's offset white function. Either of those techniques allows me to cheat the white balance fast, easy, and with very predictable results.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 05:36 PM   #8
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Why mess around with grading and rendering if you can get it perfect in the camera? ANY grading or rendering causes a loss of quality compared to the original raw footage. If I can avoid degrading my footage my simple setting a manual white balance before I begin rocording, why wouldn't I?
Because white balancing in the camera is degrading the footage as well. And I'd MUCH rather do it in my post suite, at 10bits than in my camera. I've tested it both ways time and time again.

For me it's ALWAYS a better proposition to do it in post where I have absolute control. I don't shoot finished work in the camera. Never have, never will.

Not saying this approach is right for others, but it's right for me and my workflows.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 06:26 PM   #9
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Because white balancing in the camera is degrading the footage as well.
I'm not sure I understand how this is degrading the footage? You have to set the camera's color temp to something so how is it that setting it to 3500K vs. doing a AWB to a white or warm card different? I'm not being argumentative, just trying to see if there's something that I'm not considering.

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However, since a normal white balance on a white card is usually too cool, I almost always use a WarmCard or the camera's offset white function. Either of those techniques allows me to cheat the white balance fast, easy, and with very predictable results.
Doug, how much do you offset the white to achieve a warmer look? I like the way it looks when I balance to the warm card 1 but sometimes I don't have it with me and just shoot a white page.

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old November 10th, 2010, 06:40 PM   #10
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Garrett,
good question about how setting the WB degrades the footage. I was going to ask the same thing. The WB has to be set to something! We're not talking about an SLR shooting raw files. We're talking about a normal video camera. If the act of white balancing degrades the footage, then I'll have to see some documentation on that from some other reputable source. Until then, I'm not buying it. But I can guarantee you that any extra filtering or rendering in post does degrade the footage. You might like the "look" of the footage better afterwards, but technically it has been degraded during the process.

I rarely use offset, but when I do, there is no particular setting that I would use more often than another. It all depends on the situation. I prefer to use WarmCards indoors because it is very predictable.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 07:10 PM   #11
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Guys, the way this works is that on daylight balance, there is an equal amount of gain being applied to the R G and B channels. Indoor lighting (incandescent) has a significant lack of blue light. Thus if we leave the white balance setting on daylight, the image appears to shift red, when in fact it's just that there is a lot more red light being emitted than blue. Thus why we gel if we are trying to shift the light blue. If we do a white balance in the camera, all that is happening is we are adding digital gain to to that blue channel to bring it back in balance. This is independent of any luma gain we might add.

Other options here are to leave the camera in daylight mode, shoot with an abundance of red and a lack of blue, and correct it in post in a 10-bit environment.

Or, we can gel the tungsten balanced light, to get the levels more equal.

Or, we can put a blue filter on the lens which actually cuts the red levels down to the levels of the blue and brings them back in line. Of course we need more output if we do this, but at least things are back in balance, and no channel needs gain added.

This is easily observed by viewing footage shot outdoors in the sun, especially the morning sun versus footage shot under incandescent light with thee white balance applied. When I started doing this, I started to see why my basic images seemed so noisy indoors even though I was shooting a -3 gain or 0 gain with adequate luma to need ND. It wasn't the light LEVELS that were a problem, it was the light COLOR and the white balance that was causing my noise through blue channel gain.

I went looking for answers, and found them on Panavision's site. There was a magnificent breakdown of this by one of Panavisions engineers. I've shared that numerous times on this forum and others. It absolutely explained why I was seeing what I was seeing. Though they were talking about more in relation to the Genesis camera, but it holds true for other daylight balanced cameras like the EX1/EX3, and the DSLRs (and the RED).

So you need not take my word for it. And you don't even have to believe the excellent Panavision presentation. Go shoot for yourself. And examine a frame of your footage in a viewer that can show you the channels independently. The proof was in the evidence for me. And I changed how I do business. Other's who've seen this have changed as well. And all report MUCH cleaner footage.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 07:30 PM   #12
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Perrone, thanks for the info, I've made a note to check the Panavision site when I'm done travelling. But I already know that it won't change my preference for white balancing in-camera so I don't have to fool around with grading unnecessarily in post.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #13
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Perrone, thanks for the info, I've made a note to check the Panavision site when I'm done travelling. But I already know that it won't change my preference for white balancing in-camera so I don't have to fool around with grading unnecessarily in post.
I'll save you and others some trouble....

Demystifying Additional Information

Part 7 is the part that talks about this subject, but the ENTIRE series is WELL worth a watch and hugely educational. Delivered by people who are experts in this field.

Enjoy.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 07:50 PM   #14
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Perrone, thanks for the info, I've made a note to check the Panavision site when I'm done travelling. But I already know that it won't change my preference for white balancing in-camera so I don't have to fool around with grading unnecessarily in post.
Rather than that, why not put a photographic filter on the camera? There is a specific line just to handle this. Even if it's not perfect, it gets you 90% of the way there, and then do your white balance when you only need a half db here or there rather than the nearly 6db that needs to be added to the blue channel under basic incandescent lighting.

Of course, you are free to do as you like. I am merely offering an inexpensive suggestion that cleaned up my footage beyond belief.

Best of luck.
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Old November 10th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #15
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QUOTE: "cleaned up my footage beyond belief."

Seriously, you may want to send your camera in for service if white balancing causes that much noise. I'm not kidding. None of the footage from any of my XDCAM camcorders requires cleaning up at all. If you're seeing "beyond belief" improvements then something is wrong. Very wrong.
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