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Understanding White Balance in Videography

Posted by Artisan on Apr 23, 2013 6:00:42 PM

White Balance in Videography

Early in their videography careers, students learn about white balance and how it affects photography and videography results. This is an important concept to understand, especially if you are working on a web video production.

Understanding White Balance in Videography The Camera Sees Things Differently

The basic concept of white balance is that the camera sees things differently than the human eye. The camera may have settings that are automatic that attempt to resolve lighting differences. Most professional cameras also will have a manual override that you can use to make needed adjustments. Light is an essential element in photography and videography. You must have light and it needs to be properly balanced to gain a true reproduction of a scene.

White balance adjusts the colors in your scene. Normally, you want this to be as accurate as what you see live. Filters can be used, as in regular still photography, to change a scene’s colors. You can add orange, blue, green, sepia or other colors. Another way to adjust color is to use different types of lighting sources. If you use fluorescent lighting, the entire scene without white balance will look bluish. Incandescent or tungsten lighting will make your scene look yellowish.

You have multiple ways to adjust the color result of your photography or videography. You can add filters or use white balancing. Unaltered lighting will also create different color results. If you shoot outside, the lighting will have different temperatures. A blue sky day will cause cool coloring, a bluish effect. A cloudy day will give different results. Indoor shoots using candlelight will have a warmer color, more reddish. Incandescent bulbs will give your scene more yellow tones.

Overcome Lighting Problems with White Balance

The only way to overcome your lighting problems is to white balance the camera you are using for photography or videography. However, it is not good enough to just hit the white balance automatic adjustment button. The minute you change the direction of the camera, the lighting will differ slightly, and then the pre-set white balance will not change and it will give a different result. For uniformity, it is important to white balance every shot and after every change of camera location. The time of day will also affect outdoor results.

This problem may seem to students to be either simple to solve or difficult. The results you get may color the opinion you have about the severity of the problem. With experience, every photographer will discover the absolute importance of having proper white balance for true color reproduction and consistency.

Your eyes make these color adjustments automatically and in fractions of a second. You must tell your camera what to do and what adjustments to make. The time proven way professionals approach this problem is to use a white card, a gray card or a warm card. Take a full frame reading of the card and hit the white balance button. Do this whenever your lighting source or shot direction or location changes. In some cases where you need to meet a particular editorial standard, you might use a warm card to produce warmer tones than real. Use this technique for web video production, and you should be pleased with final results. Since video screens tend to be a cool medium, using the warm card may be preferred for web video productions. Test until you are confident in your ability to use white balancing.

Linda E is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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