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-   -   White Balance Importance (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl-gl-series-dv-camcorders/86711-white-balance-importance.html)

Matthew Jackson February 16th, 2007 04:33 PM

White Balance Importance
In manual mode, is it as important to have the white balance manually set, as the gain or can the white balance be in Auto? And or is it critical to set the white balance fresh with everyday? Let me clarify... I shoot on a boat everyday... and I have the white balance presets set for sunny and cloudy... about 90% of the time here there is not a cloud in the sky... so I generally leave it on 1 or auto... but maybe I should be adjusting for early mornings? or night shots? or what have you? Any thoughts?


Jim Montgomery February 16th, 2007 04:56 PM

I produce a fishing show and the first thing I do before hitting record is white balance for that particular shot. It saves a lot of work in post and the images are far superior. That is for every single time I hit record, not everyday or every hour, every time. I could shoot 130 clips a day and each one is balanced before the image is recorded to tape.

Just my nickel


Matthew Jackson February 16th, 2007 06:25 PM

Wow... thanks for the tip... I'm down in Guatemala until May, and the way it generally works for me, is that I don't know when I'm going to hit record... Would I be able to, use a piece of paper or something and set the white balance for that particular half hour or hour? You never know when the big marlin's going to come up... you know?

thanks so much for the advice... that's some great insight...

Jim Montgomery February 16th, 2007 07:17 PM

The way I work it is:

The fish shows up - pick up the camera and aim it at some part of the boat that is white and hit the white balance switch - as soon as it has finished, hit record and your on your way.

Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbNY3lf0BuE

Takes a little practice but you only lose a couple of seconds.


Matthew Jackson February 16th, 2007 08:39 PM

Okay, well then that brings me to a theory I had a while back about setting my white balance... I don't have any cards, can I trust the color of the boat... it's a gamefisherman, and the white is pretty white... the hull is navy blue, but the topside is stark white... I just wasn't sure if that was accurate enough... but I will try it.

Nice marlin by the way... where were you guys? I saw an Alabama T-shirt there... my best friend is on the Outlaw they fish all the gulf tournaments... I think I'm going to fish with them this year....

Michael Nistler February 16th, 2007 08:40 PM

Filters, too
Hi Matthew,

While I don't shoot over water, in addition to frequent white balance calibration I'd want to try polarizers and color graduated filters.


Good luck, Michael

Matthew Jackson February 16th, 2007 11:16 PM

yea, I have a polarizing filter, but it seems to distort the color of everything else... presets seem to work best...

thanks for the tip! and the link.

Nate Weaver February 17th, 2007 01:31 AM


Originally Posted by Jim Montgomery
It saves a lot of work in post and the images are far superior. That is for every single time I hit record, not everyday or every hour, every time. I could shoot 130 clips a day and each one is balanced before the image is recorded to tape.

I understand that it does indeed work for you Jim, but in my professional experience, including 8+ years of watching people shoot before I ever did it on my own, that white balancing before each and every shot is not really necessary.

For me, knowing what lighting issues cause kelvin changes and then keeping an eye out for those changes is much more useful.

If in full sun, then I white balance for the sun. If the action then becomes a sequence all in shade, then I might take a separate white balance in the shade (because the ambient sunlight in the shade is much higher kelvin, typically 7000+). Same goes for interiors. I don't change white balance unless the predominant light source changes.

Not to mention, balancing before each and every shot could, in some conditions, take out some of the very color flavor that's making something interesting. I would never white balance if I'm shooting people lit by a setting sun, if the light is pretty. It's the increasing warmness of the sun that's going to make it look like a sunset!

Tony Davies-Patrick February 17th, 2007 05:34 AM

A lot of my work is of fishing subjects, and the majority of time I like to use a polarizer filter - far deeper and more saturated colours and less reflections etc, plus the added bonus of 'seeing' fish etc far better from above surface positions.

Regarding setting white balance 'every time' prior to pressing Record - If I did this I'd miss far too much important action.

A lot of my work involves landscapes/waterscapes/wildlife etc, and having correct white balance is not always the 'correct' visual 'look' for what I'm trying to achieve. More often I will leave the WB dial set on 'Outdoor' balance (tends to provide a 'warmer' daylight tone) with the gain Db set on minus -3 and then adjust aperture/speed/grad filter/ND/polarizer/reflector etc until I have the 'look' I want for each framed footage capture (mainly when I have more time and for tripod work).

An 'auto' setting for a sunset, for example, is often far too overexposed for my tastes, and I will tend to underexpose to provide deeper more saturated reds and dark blacks that provide the 'wow' factor for viewers combined with an in-camera XL2 Preset.

We view the world 24/7 in correct auto-mode white-balance in our brains, so matching our DV cameras (or even stills cameras) with perfect white-balance and evenly-lit backgrounds are a sure-fire way to switch on the 'dull and uninteresting' mode in our brains. The mind needs to be stimulated into viewing the unusual, and chucking in the odd ultra-wide-close-up views combined with extreme telephoto shots, plus colours and shadows that lay beyond the norm - that pluck at the atmospheric strings of our emotion - are the rules I try to be guided by.

Matthew Jackson February 17th, 2007 01:26 PM

The later seems to be the case for me as well, where as the current white balance setting that have gives me better color later in the day... sometimes when I reconfigure it, it gives me a coloration that I didn't want... which is why the presets on the XL2 are so great because you can save your setting, and then use a new button... it's very handy.

Jim Montgomery February 17th, 2007 03:14 PM

Granted all the above is true, for each given shooting situation. However I like to have a constant base line, a measured white balance in this case to work from. Knowing that it exists lets me then make adjustments in post if the action is fast a furious, if I have the luxury of time then I can make in camera adjustments and have minimumal colorization in post.

Works for me and I guess everyone has their own way of acheiving the same end; an image they are happy with.


Michael Nistler February 17th, 2007 06:33 PM

As always, it depends...
Rehi Jim,

Yes to all the above - and it depends on the shoot. For instance, if you're doing establishment, B roll, short vinettes, etc, it's easy enough to recalibrate when the boat changes direction, a cloud comes overhead, etc. But if you filming a major motion picture on the deck of a cruise ship or a marching band on the deck of an aircraft carrier, you probably don't have that luxury. OTOH, some may be limited for various reasons what they can or cannot do in post. Perhaps the videographer has a slow machine where rendering hours of footage would be very painful. Or perhaps it's a Same Day Edit where the video must be ready ASAP. Anyway, your mileage may vary depending on your shoot...

Regards, Michael

Graham Bernard February 18th, 2007 02:03 AM

XM2 user here. But I have found this thread to be both heartening and illuminating.

What have I garnered from it?

Choose the WB approach for the activity being performed. Meaning there is no "correct" way. The ONLY correct way/method is to use WB-ing to give enough value and inherent captured information to do what needs to be done on final delivery. Oh, is there a correct way? YES, yes there is. Be aware for the NEED for WB!! NOT being aware is not correct.

WB-ing goes on in our heads all the time - I love that comment!

And the other comment meaning for me: What the brain yearns for is the excitement that makes it NOT of the ordinary. Something that makes references to and forces its abilities to be engaged with what the brain/we are looking at.

But that's our job?

Its the job of the videographer to select out these instances and highlight them for the viewer - It is SHOW Biz!

I'm gradually acquiring a "mental" list/table of white balance approaches. It is this that I refer to when confronted with a scene/job/challenge.

* Run N Gun = One of the Canon Presets for WB

* Talking head set up = WB Cards

* Mixed lighting (slower Run n Gun!) = Any white I can get me hands on! - If needed, correct in post.

* Artificial Lighting Casual = Canon WB Preset, correct in post.

* The Golden Hours = Depending on the mixture of Kelvins about, WB templates OR White cards OR if I'm in a panic, any white I can get my hands on! Correct/Enhance in post.

I'm using informed experience and guessing here but I've been converging WB-ing and Colour Correction as an approach to my video making. I have this quite quick internalised discussion that goes on: "Now, just WHAT do I need to do here (lighting/profile/preset/bounce) to get what I think I want for editing? Is there ANYTHING I can do with WB-ing that would enhance/deliver/WOW-up the experience of the viewer/me? And would that assist or detract from judicious use of Colour enhancement?" [I've also come to realise that Colour Correction falls into mainly 2 areas: #1: Colour Correcting to make all clips "work" together! #2: Colour "Enhancement" making more of the emotion/impact/relevance/layer that wasn't apparent before.]

Great thread. And still, STILL very relevant to an XM2 (or any other camera) too.

Richard Hunter February 18th, 2007 02:37 AM

Hi Grazie. I agree with most of your points except maybe the one about golden hour. I find that if I WB for golden hour or sunrise/sunset it takes away some of the quality that makes these conditions special in the first place. I prefer to use a preset for this case and then CC if necessary in post.

And isn't mixed lighting fun? :)


Graham Bernard February 18th, 2007 03:16 AM


Originally Posted by Richard Hunter
I find that if I WB for golden hour or sunrise/sunset it takes away some of the quality that makes these conditions special in the first place. I prefer to use a preset for this case and then CC if necessary in post.

Thanks Richard. Updating my Mental Table as I write!

What Preset setting do you use? Maybe I could transpose this into an XM2 setting? Or do you do this with an XM2?

Always hungry to learn. Oh yes, loadsa fun!

TIA - g

PS: Before the "Obstreperous One" gets wind of my clumsy posting here, ie NOT being on the subject for the XL2, perhaps you could e-mail me your preset?

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