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Old March 13th, 2021, 08:15 PM   #1
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How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Looking for ideas for white balancing multi camera dance recitals.
The only ways I know are using presets but the cameras still do not match exactly.
Or have a guy stand on the stage with a large white board and everyone pull a manual WB with white lights on?
I imagine you guys may have better ideas
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Old March 13th, 2021, 10:10 PM   #2
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Is there any manual control? I had some luck manually adjusting the color temperature on a pro level Panasonic camera to match a consumer grade Sony (that didn't have as much adjustment). I had to do it by eye so it wasn't perfect, but it was close enough.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 12:47 AM   #3
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Two simple options:
1. put a big piece of white fabric on stage
2. before setting up bring the cameras up on stage now you only need a small white balance card.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 02:42 AM   #4
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Spent ages typing and it vanished!

Huge cards don’t work because theatres nowadays do not have white light to balance to. It’s a mix of random white LED and mixed RGB sources.

In precovid times a huge amount of our work is theatre and much dance. Presets are the best solution because some cameras really struggle. We’ve been using JVC for years and they work best I have found. Sony and Panasonic fall down badly in red/blue mixes. They all just look pink. Purple, magenta and pinks are the same. You see them change with your eyes but the camera just sees pink. I have an older Pentax DSLR I use for stills in theatre it’s great. It’s newer brother, another Pentax model is awful, the same pink problem. Sony video is worst, GoPro not too bad and Panasonic in the middle. I’m glad we sold our Sony eng type as it was really poor. JVCs from 100 series can be mixed, so we’re on 750s now and pick them up on ebay when we see them because the colour rendition is good and the presets match. We tend to use 3200 as a baseline preset.

If you have different brand camera this could be your problem not really white balance. The test is to see if their presets work outdoors, if they match there, but not on stage it’s just an LED response issue.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 06:43 AM   #5
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
Two simple options:
1. put a big piece of white fabric on stage
2. before setting up bring the cameras up on stage now you only need a small white balance card.
This is absolutely the correct way of doing it, but before you white balance the cameras you need to make sure the stage manager (or whoever is in charge) brings up their typical "show" lighting.
The lighting might vary quite a bit from that mark during the show, but that should be okay. The point is not to cancel out all the color casts and other changes that are being done for creative reasons. White isn't always supposed to look white. If the colors go way off the rails during parts of the show, that is the fault of whoever is in charge of the show. A professional will take into consideration the limitations of the videos cameras -- if recording the program is a priority. If not, then you did the best you could by white balancing for the "show" lighting and then letting the chips fall where they may. Unless they hire you to do the lighting there is only so much you can do on your end to deal with ridiculously wide changes in color or intensitiy.
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Last edited by Doug Jensen; March 14th, 2021 at 07:26 AM.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 07:52 AM   #6
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Doug - it simply doesn't work that way. I run a theatre - quite a big one (1400 seats) and while we do our own video, clients often bring in their own people, who either understand theatre or they don't.

You cannot ask me (usually in the role of technical manager) to bring up typical white stage lighting, because it no longer exists in any meaningful way. White is no longer a constant. If you stand centre stage with your white cloth you have angles to consider. The camera at the rear probably won't be able to fill the viewfinder, the camera at the side will be seeing bounce from lights in one place with one white colour, a camera in the pit will be seeing reflections from a different white and so on - but the critical error come from colours. We are not talking subtle shades, we are talking about one camera seeing magenta, and another pink, or even redder colours. Blue might range from a deep violet blue to a dirty nasty mess. when the video folk turn up during rehearsals, they can give the lighting people a monitor, so when they are programming, they can avoid colour combinations that look bad to the cameras. However, it's rare to have them at rehearsals, so when they turn up an hour before the show, it's too late to object - but they do, and we have a fallback. we always talk to the client or producer when we are doing rehearsals and ask what they wish to happen. IS the show for the audience, or is it for the video - they cannot have both.

I suppose all the cameras could be derigged and brought to the same place where the white screen or card can fill the viewfinder. I've never seen anyone do that, ever! If you have three cameras, for example, all the same make and model - then they would all be the same - that would work. If you have different makes, pointing at a white screen lit by R-G-B LED sources all on full is useless and pointless. They're never on like this during the show, so you have no idea what the result will be.

I see this over and over again. Every model of lights I have has a totally different white. even worse, some where I have added to the stock have different white to the ones exactly the same, but a year older. There is NO consistency in modern LED lighting. Blue especially change greatly from batch to batch. As everyone has a different version of blue, in terms of colour spike frequency - trying to make a usable white is frustrating. Your eye says one thing, your cameras say differently.

This is why I like my JVCs - three different models currently, but the presets produce the same shades.Not the same as my eye sees, but in the edit - they look identical. Adding different makes means a gorgeous purple costume looks pink on the other, but the green costumes look the same?

When the colours go off during the show, it's not the fault of somebody in charge, but the fault of the manufacturers for assuming everyone takes pictures in full spectrum lighting and ignoring LED. They've been around for so long now, it's unforgivable. What I do know is that auto white balance is totally unreliable with different makes. With a 3200 or 5600 light, it works fine. LED lighting is here to stay and is now everywhere. Nobody ever complains to Sony or Panasonic about this - they blame the lights. Watch the broadcasters - talk to a racks engineer. They're happy with a card and one version of white, but with their chains it's uncommon to mix camera models, let alone brands. They also light from monitors so the colour pallet is one that the cameras can deal with.

Asking a typical video firm who turn up at my venue for a monitor for the lighting guy is usually greeted with what?" and them not having one. We keep one it situ - and if the cameras are close, we'll hand them a cable. Some realise how useful it is and plug us in. Others invent the most stupid responses. We don't try to convince them. If they then come up mid dance number and tell us the red for a fire scene with reds and yellows is all sparkly, it's tough. If they also hate the deep blue, same thing. Oddly - the pink/purple/magenta thing is often totally missed when they are shooting. I bet they spot it in the edit. Here's a sell from the JVC's I use - you can see all the colours from blue to red are captured - on my Pentax DSLR they're just all shades of there same colour.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 08:08 AM   #7
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Have to reinforce what Paul says. My hobby is shooting amateur theatre and with the current lighting the set designers can have daylight on one side of the stage and anything they want everywhere else to create the lighting effect they want. A preset or white balance for the whole show will not work to cover all situations. I like to see a rehearsal if there is strange lighting or effects and create a preset for the show on my GH5's. Every show or even scene can have a different white balance because of the lights used so most of the time it is always necessary to do corrections in editing these days. Typical things for the GH5's are red coming out as orange for some costume material and source light. Shooting Vlog helps compared to other picture profiles on the GH5's. I am sure RAW would be an even better solution.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 08:31 AM   #8
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I suppose all the cameras could be derigged and brought to the same place where the white screen or card can fill the viewfinder. I've never seen anyone do that, ever!
This is exactly how it is supposed to be done and I've seen it done (and done it myself) hundreds of times. Perhaps many of the rest of the challenges and concerns you talk about would go away if you took this one simple step.
BTW, I suppose the audio guys don't want to send a test feed to help set correct levels either?
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Old March 14th, 2021, 08:33 AM   #9
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
When the colours go off during the show, it's not the fault of somebody in charge, but the fault of the manufacturers for assuming everyone takes pictures in full spectrum lighting and ignoring LED.
I couldn't disagree with you more on this point. It absolutely is the fault of the operator. How silly to say otherwise.
"Hey, it's not my fault I cut off my fingers with the band saw, the damn manufacturer made the blade too sharp!"
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Old March 14th, 2021, 09:08 AM   #10
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
This is exactly how it is supposed to be done and I've seen it done (and done it myself) hundreds of times. Perhaps many of the rest of the challenges and concerns you talk about would go away if you took this one simple step.
Not sure how long ago you shot in the theatre Doug but now it is possible to have one scene with daylight white balance and the next totally different, and the next scene different again. The same for a dance show. As Paul mentioned LED lighting can change the colour temperature with scene change so there is no one setting for a show anymore, even for a scene. I stopped doing that about 4 years ago. As I mentioned in my last post even different white balance across the stage. An example would be a window on the set with daylight lighting through it and at the other end a lamp on a desk where the actor stands by the window then walks and sits at the desk with close to standard indoor white balance. My comment of red costume is typical to see the costume change colour as the actor moves across the stage through different lights often by lighting design. This was not possible years ago but is now. Same for a dance show with bright daylights of a sunny dance and dark colour balanced lighting for a more sultry dance. As well as a mix of course where the main lighting is a wash but the central scene is deliberately different. In the past it was how bright or dark the lighting was but now it is bright, dark and colour temperature by scene.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 09:09 AM   #11
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

This is a commonly accepted method. You can ask the lighting guy to bring up a regular scene or the curtain call lights. The first thing a custom white balance does is it ensures all your cameras are in sync color wise with each other. Even matched cameras can look different when using the same preset. The second thing you're trying to achieve is a ball park temperature. I've found old theater lighting warmer while newer LED can run much cooler. All you're looking to do is make the normal white light scene look neutral. I think you guys are confusing the OP. Use common sense, have a quick conversation with the lighting guy about what the show will be like and tell him you're trying to set white balance. I guess if you try hard enough you can dream up a scenario that would cause a problem.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 09:39 AM   #12
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

It WAS the commonly accepted method, but now it fails miserably to match cameras that are different. The issue is between makes, and even then between models in the range. Even asking for white is often impossible to achieve. I have three different lighting controls that get used for small and big jobs. I use one in my studio, that due to covid has the store full of lighting flight cases - I've been experimenting with the theatrical lights for a bit of fun - so at the moment I have half a dozen video LED panels in the grid, but also ten or so fixed and moving head colour mixing lights. For convenience, the LED panels are on faders. The moving and mixing LEDs are not. They don't work like that. If you asked me for white light from them. I'd have to this sequence of events. This is the button presses and knob turns to get white on the white cloth hanging from the back.

Head 100 thru 104 a@ full. They light up. I then bash position - and turn them to point at the cloth. I then hit colour and turn up the white knob to check it's full - I get a yellowy white. I adjust the zoom, and the centre might get a little bluer and the edges due to the lenses might be a bit yellower, and on a couple there could even be a little edge fringing due to the distance, where I might get a tad yellow. Then I turn up the red, blue and green LEDs and it goes brighter and a little more blue white. I would then enter head 105 thru 108 at full. These won't light up at all, I need to go to colour and manually add the three colours and I get a totally different white. This also has coloured fringing on the edges where the beams don't climate properly, so a bit of fiddling with the zoom to get the most even field. The next lights don't have colour mixing at all, but colour temperature wheels - so head 109 thru 112 @ full snaps these up to white and once pointed I have a third version of white. with my matching identical cameras pointing at that white cloth, the one in the middle might be catching the bounce from one white and the one on the left from a different one. Press the autowhite and the result is awful. Three different whites in this example. This doesn't even touch the differences in makes.

The rules of just three or four years ago don't work now. The lights are so radically different and how they work means that in my example - before you do anything you need to press record and slap that to a fader for recall. The old idea that a full up in white is easy is only easy if the system was programmed to be able to do this. That photo I put up was at a very good theatre, and if you ask their lighting op to slap up white he would have to create it, one light at a time. The notion there is a bunch of faders you can shove that give you white light is outdated - the faders are at a premium, nobody wastes them on functions that don't need. In fact, to get white light might need ten minutes of plans, experiments and tweaking. Things are different now. If white light is planned, you can have it, but in theatres for anything other than straight plays white is unwanted.

That's how the professional, and now amateur world of lighting theatre is. A theatre nowadays simply does not have it at the flick of a switch. We need to understand this.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 09:50 AM   #13
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

The OP is talking about dance recitals not profession music concerts. Even in those scenarios the cameras white balance has to be set to something. You can ask to bring up a curtain call light cue which generally uses all the lights yielding white.
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Old March 14th, 2021, 10:08 AM   #14
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

I get the lighting tech to pull up brightest scene and darkest scene. That is for both theatre and dance. As Paul says this would not give them too much of an issue as they know what is the brightest and darkest. Yes curtain call is close to the brightest. I have my cameras set close to 4000 for the theatres I go to as I found this gives me the best shot at getting them looking good in editing. If I get back doing this after Covid !!
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Old March 14th, 2021, 11:26 AM   #15
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Re: How do you white balance dance recitals / stage shows?

Pete - please, I've been lighting professional since 1976. Curtain call - the traditional full up finish simply is not white light any more. when we dealt with gels it was of course, because you wanted punch and heat and a big beam. Maybe the US is hanging far behind the UK, but as far as I'm aware it's not. LED means even communal theatre means saturated bright colours and white light is geriatric and simply not needed. There will rarely be a need for a full up state - it's like advising people to buy good quality tape for your cameras because it's always worth the extra, and having everyone stare at their memory cards and mutter tape?

If you are in venues with full up finishes, they clearly have nobody under 25 working their, are using old lighting kit and an old control. If you find that venue, super - ask them for these things. Just don't try them in more up to date venues of any kind, because it's historic practice.

I'll have to assume that theatre lighting of all scales in the US has not moved with the rest of the world. My experience of video in all scales and budgets is in a number of European countries and all I can say is that requests of this kind would cause some laughter in the crew room. The last time we did a rig with open white in it as a feature was probably 2012? Certainly standing on my stages since then, the finales have colour, colour, colour! One circuit of 32 theatres always paid for a photo call - every scene shot in white light, so the set folk had real colour images of their work. The costs were going through the roof - 32 venues paying for a four hour call to program lighting states totally missing from the 600-800 cues in the desk. Each year the pictures were getting worse and worse because the lighting rigs simply were not designed to be able to do white washes as the lighting designers never wanted them. NONE of the music acts I've done for years have asked for white light, apart from face lights - so we usually half half a dozen special in open white front of house for this purpose - but a wash in white? Nope. New builds are now torn with deciding if they even want to spend money on dimmers. Many here are not installing them at all, hiring in when required.

Asking for things you simply can't have is a bit pointless. Assuming there is a quick way to get white for a auto white balance is a bit silly when the white you might get gets mangled by all your cameras differently. It's harder to fix in post than selecting a preset.

Funny the States are lagging so far behind the rest of the lighting world. I've not bought gel or lamps for three years now. Long live LED. Ron's 4K setting make huge sense.
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