What is The Best Way to Colour Balance, With White or Grey?

MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 2:05 AM

Okay, so this question might’ve been asked before a similar way, if so, I apologise, but if not, I’m curious as to which is the better way to colour balance, with white paper or a grey card? When looking on the net there’re various opinions on this. I’m colour balancing a video in Vegas Pro 18 and I just would some answers on this. Although, I guess it could be like the net and I’ll get various. But it’ll still be good to see what the community here thinks, which way the majority falls. I look forward to any answers anyone can give to help with this.

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Comments

Marco. wrote on 4/8/2021, 2:32 AM

"which is the better way to colour balance, with white paper or a grey card?"

It doesn't matter if not the white paper reaches/exceeds 100 % white, so I'd prefer grey.

MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 2:49 AM

"which is the better way to colour balance, with white paper or a grey card?"

It doesn't matter if not the white paper reaches/exceeds 100 % white, so I'd prefer grey.

Sorry, I’m not quite sure what you’re saying with that I have highlighted. My guess that you’re saying that white paper usually reaches the maximum white spectrum of 255 so you prefer to use grey, correct?

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Marco. wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:24 AM

It depends on how much light it reflects and how the camera exposure is set. But white for sure rather does run the risk of exceeding 100 % than grey does.

Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:30 AM

@MH7 - Let’s start the other way around. Motives are a good place to start. Why or what do want to colour balance?

MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:33 AM

It depends on how much light it reflects and how the camera exposure is set. But white for sure rather does run the risk of exceeding 100 % than grey does.

Ah, okay, gotcha! Well, the only thing grey in my video is a lamp shade that I actually colour balanced my Sony FDR-AX700 to. The video turned out alright. A bit on the warm side, but I am learning about colour balancing. Some of the great videos on colour balancing that I’d recommend to anyone is these two below (one is for VP 17 and one is for VP 18). I need to go in depth and follow his tutorial whilst colour balancing.

Last changed by MH7 on 4/8/2021, 3:36 AM, changed a total of 3 times.

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Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:38 AM

@MH7 - Ah, a motive, “A bit on the warm side”.

What was the scene lit with? Daylight, Tungsten, neon, LED? What mix of light source? Did it change?

MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:40 AM

@MH7 - Let’s start the other way around. Motives are a good place to start. Why or what do want to colour balance?

Well, it’s one of my relatives birthdays that I filmed. I mostly film family videos, nothing too professional, but I like my work to look good, as I’m sure anyone does.

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
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MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:43 AM

@MH7 - Ah, a motive, “A bit on the warm side”.

Oh, I didn’t realise that that’s what you meant. My bad.

What was the scene lit with? Daylight, Tungsten, neon, LED? What mix of light source? Did it change?

I believe warm LEDs, but it was daylight with the curtains closed in the lounge room (the lounge room is at the front of the house).

Last changed by MH7 on 4/8/2021, 3:44 AM, changed a total of 1 times.

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
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Aussie VEGAS Pro 18 (Build 482) User As Of 28th March, 2021 (Upgraded from VEGAS Pro 15 Edit)

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RogerS wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:50 AM

White paper is not acceptable for white balancing. Most have brighteners which are bluish. Here's a comparison of neutral targets- try to get a reasonably good one.

Now if you have a target that is spectrally neutral for white, gray and a darker gray (such as X-Rite Video Passport), any of the neutral patches can be used for white balancing. I would use the white patch and take care to ensure it is not clipping/overexposed. A spectrally neutral gray card is fine too, but beware many gray cards are only intended for setting exposure and aren't actually gray!

I watched the VP 18 version of that video before. The card he is using is poor quality, so who knows where these colors should fall on the vectorscope. How he uses color corrector secondary is good (if you're in a hurry try the free AAVColorlab as an alternative or the paid Graide Color Curves).

Heed his advice not to use the card to set white and black points- your camera's dynamic range far exceeds a reflective piece of paper so it shouldn't be white or black. A good card will give you reference values- at least figure out where middle gray is on the card and brighten or darken with curves in post to match

Last changed by RogerS on 4/8/2021, 3:53 AM, changed a total of 1 times.

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Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:51 AM

@MH7 - I totally agree with all your motives. When I shoot I attempt to get as much latitude locked into each frame. Mostly, 95% of the time I’ve got enough to make a balance. Unless I want to give the viewer a start, I want my CB NOT to be an unintended Scene Jump. For me CB is about adding to the Narrative, and when I mean adding, I also mean not be distracting from the narrative, be it a Birthday, CorpDoco, Ritual Implements ( few of those nowadays, pity) I treat ‘em all the same. So, for me the Narrative comes first. Having the Toolset and Craft allows me to do accomplish it.

Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 3:55 AM

@MH7 - Be aware that most LEDs have literally HOLES in their Spectrums that no end of CB will cure. I’ve had to add a MAGENTA filter over one of my Pro LED lamps ‘cos this created havoc in VP, you’d better believe it.

MH7 wrote on 4/8/2021, 4:47 AM

@Marco. @Grazie @RogerS

Thanks guys for your input. It’s greatly appreciated! 👍🏻🙂

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
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Musicvid wrote on 4/8/2021, 9:20 AM

Here's a little color theory.

With video, unlike film, the three color windshield wipers are anchored at the bottom. Black is black.

The ideal color balance with a theoretical linear light source is achieved when the sensor outputs match the color temperature near the top of the luma range. Measuring diffuse reflectance from a 95% neutral white card with no zebras showing will give the "theoretical" perfect balance from black to white. Never white balance by pointing a camera directly at a light source.

The grays may be a bit different because there is no such thing as a perfectly linear light curve in the real world. As Roger mentioned, white paper and teeshirts don't work because of UV.

In shooting, one "can" balance on the neutral gray card, which approaches linearity, but only for the bottom half of the curve. Many "people shooters" claim this is the best method for them, because (under good light) the flesh tones are generally very close. An informed grader will then tip the whites a bit in post to give a pleasing upper end impression. I prefer not to do it this way, because working in that upper curve is tricky on the eyes, and the method (WB in post) is always slightly destructive (picky me).

Whichever method you choose, care must be taken to shoot a diffuse reflection of the ambient light and completely avoid seeing direct reflections of the light source on the card surface. Many otherwise good wedding sessions have been ruined irreparably by holding up a gray card in daylight and inadvertently balancing on a reflection of blue sky from the surface of the card. Like red, anyone? That is why I always use a UV and quite often a polarizer outdoors.

Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 9:32 AM

@Musicvid - As always, excellent! This should be pinned in a section, somewhere.

Howard-Vigorita wrote on 4/8/2021, 9:39 AM

You really need to go by by the color temperature meter's instructions. When shooting Canon I've always used it as my color temp meter and calibrated with a white card in accordance with their guidance for creating a white balance preset. Then set the Canon reported color temp into other cams, such as embedded Jvc's, with good results. Advantage of this is that if I forget to bring it, a venue table cloth will do. Also like to capture an Xrite chart at the beginning of shoots mostly for piece of mind.

I should also note that shooting with a zcam is a little different... it's auto white balance seems to be pretty spot on when used with a 'lock on record' setting and seems to come up with the same color temp reported by my Canon. So it calibrates once when I first hit the record button and does not change as the clip rolls on. If I'm shooting multicam I generally start the zcam rolling on the same card I'm using with the Canon, throw in the color chart for a moment, and find trying to color correct in post to the recorded chart results in no change. I've also tried skipping the card completely and that works well too... just start rolling on the scene. Some zcam users report getting better results when they start rolling on the light source rather than the scene but I've never tried that.

Regarding led lights, I use Dracast Bi-Colors whenever I can on stage with great results. When doing rock concerts and musical theater that features a light show that's usually not possible. So best I can do is ask the lighting guy to give me all-white from his vari-colors and manually lock the color temp into all cameras (including the zcam), shoot a color chart, then let the colors fall where they may during the show.

Last changed by Howard-Vigorita on 4/8/2021, 10:38 AM, changed a total of 3 times.

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vkmast wrote on 4/8/2021, 9:55 AM

@Musicvid has quite a few of his "My Vegas articles" in his signature. Maybe he wants to add the link to this "little color theory" piece to the list as well.

Musicvid wrote on 4/8/2021, 10:29 AM

Thanks, guys. Having just returned from my annual labyrinthitis incursion, I'm glad my words still resonate with a few dear friends.

@Grazie I'm sure this is also a particularly gratifying anniversary for you as well, having soundly defeated the Covid-Devil. Job well done!

Grazie wrote on 4/8/2021, 10:50 AM

@Musicvid - Oh man, yeah...... nasty 🤢 🤮...... from the 8th April I started going downhill, it wasn’t until the following week that I was off of the O2. Thanks for remembering 😍

MH7 wrote on 4/10/2021, 9:09 PM

@Musicvid | Thanks for your informative post. So, for indoor filming, especially when dealing with moderate to medium low light, what would be your recommendation for that kind of filming situation?

Just to inform you, in case you’re not aware, my Sony FDR-AX700 has built-in UV filters, three levels depending on how bright the light source is. They come in really handy when filming outdoors. My Canon Legria HF G10 never had them, and I didn’t know if I could add them, but with them built-in to my Sony camera it’s great and very helpful. I can also setup camera profiles in my Sony camera, I think to even film flat (I can’t remember the technical term), so any recommendations I will take on board.

Never white balance by pointing a camera directly at a light source.

Guilty! I did that for one of my family members birthdays because the lamps are grey and I thought it get the best colour balance. Well, as is often said, you learn something new every day.

Last changed by MH7 on 4/10/2021, 9:09 PM, changed a total of 1 times.

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
————————————————————————————————————

Aussie VEGAS Pro 18 (Build 482) User As Of 28th March, 2021 (Upgraded from VEGAS Pro 15 Edit)

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Musicvid wrote on 4/10/2021, 9:14 PM

Thanks for your informative post. So, for indoor filming, especially when dealing with moderate to medium low light, what would be your recommendation for that kind of filming situation?

Assuming you're shooting people indoors under unbalanced lighting, I would start with the gray card and run some tests. For instance, fluorescent is far different color than whites. Which of course means compromise if you're shooting brides.

MH7 wrote on 4/10/2021, 9:45 PM

Thanks for your informative post. So, for indoor filming, especially when dealing with moderate to medium low light, what would be your recommendation for that kind of filming situation?

Assuming you're shooting people indoors under unbalanced lighting, I would start with the gray card and run some tests. For instance, fluorescent is far different color than whites. Which of course means compromise if you're shooting brides.

What’s your definition of “unbalanced lighting”? The two lamps are close to daylight (probably 5800-6000k) colour temperature and sometimes we do open the curtains a bit for better lighting. But mostly I’m dealing with the lamps and they give a decent amount of light, but I usually do have to increase my cameras ISO to 1000 or a tad more to compensate for the lowish light source. I don’t like to do this, but it’s what I usually have to do. I mean, I’m not too fussy. It’s family memories that I’m filming. But I guess one still wants a decent quality video for lasting memories. The lamp lights have LEDs light bulbs in them so we aren’t dealing with fluorescent. I don’t have a grey card as of yet, my best alternative, that I have used is a grey iPad cover. But it seems to work alright.

Last changed by MH7 on 4/10/2021, 9:47 PM, changed a total of 5 times.

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
————————————————————————————————————

Aussie VEGAS Pro 18 (Build 482) User As Of 28th March, 2021 (Upgraded from VEGAS Pro 15 Edit)

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Musicvid wrote on 4/10/2021, 10:07 PM

If you brought your own lights, then they are balanced (hopefully).

Get a gray / white balance card. Do this first. 18% gray is essential if you are shooting people.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=gray+white+balance+card&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

MH7 wrote on 4/10/2021, 10:21 PM

If you brought your own lights, then they are balanced (hopefully).

They are no special lighting lamps, they’re just your typical table lamps.

Get a gray / white balance card. Do this first. 18% gray is essential if you are shooting people.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=gray+white+balance+card&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Okay, well I’ll look into that. I have previously but I never knew which one to get. Do you have any advice on this?

Just for clarification, when talking 18% grey/gray, is it 18% from black to grey or white to grey?

Last changed by MH7 on 4/10/2021, 11:12 PM, changed a total of 2 times.

John 14:6 | Romans 10:9-10 | Romans 10:13 | Ephesians 2:8-9
————————————————————————————————————

Aussie VEGAS Pro 18 (Build 482) User As Of 28th March, 2021 (Upgraded from VEGAS Pro 15 Edit)

My YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzuESr-MMENy4iHZVhR940A?view_as=subscriber

Video Camera: Sony FDR-AX700

My Productivity Workstation

CPU: AMD R7 1700 @ 3GHz Motherboard: Gigabyte AX370 G5 RAM: Corsair Vengeance (4x8GB) 32GB DDR4 Storage: Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD & WD 2TB HDD GPU: Gigabyte RX 580 OS: Windows 10 (Build: 20H2) Main Monitor: LG 27UD88-W 4K IPS Secondary Monitor: LG 27UL850 4K HDR IPS

Musicvid wrote on 4/10/2021, 11:21 PM

Don't ask -- it's based on densitometer analog voltage. Trust Uncle Ansel. and learn photography.

(Never met Adams, but I worked for Mickey Pallas).