The Long and Short on Color Temperature

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    • #37761

      VM has many articles discussing the ‘How to’s’ on color temperature. You know, that annoying little detail consumer cameras always overlook with their ‘auto white balance’ setting which decides whether your footage looks ‘blue’ outdoors or ‘red’ indoors depending on the lighting. Color temp isn’t complicated at its root concept, but the minute you start digging into how it works many amateur videographer’s ‘screens’ start going blank. Here’s a really clear cut (and short) breakdown on how color temperature works by Jeffery Seckendorf of CreateSphere. Take a look and follow his advice, “Learn the Rules and then Break them all.” Right on!

      Quickies from Createasphere: Color Temperature Basics for Film and Digital from Createasphere on Vimeo.

    • #167315

      understanding color balance is great…

      once you understand it, learning to work with it is relatively easy.

      when doing web advert videos, I have a few small tips to kiss it (keep it simple stupid)

      first is a number of options for my key light on my subject…

      halogen, florescent and led lights in several powers and light temperatures… I try to find the right light to work with the available light… I use whatever lights are there for ambient, or back light or fill light then add my key light…

      one job recently I used a daylight balanced compact florescent bulb (in a paper chinese lantern) as key, a large window as backlighting and the inside incandescent lights as ambient…

      end result : by moving my lantern as close to the subject as possible, I got soft light, and bright enough to balance with the window light…. the ambient light inside the room was soft and warm…

      excellent result using only one added light by me…

      I use a Kodak greycard for manual color balance and exposure and this allows me to match as close as possible the shots from 2 camcorders and 2 d-slrs for multi cam edit with both stills and video in the final product..

    • #167316

      blurred, cannot relase customers work, but the color came out very nice for a one light, mixed source set up.

      I did the opposite of what was in the other video above, I had my subject and the outside the window areas balanced for outdoor light and let my ambient light go warm with incandescent lights.

      my 200 watt equiv.. compact florescent in my paper lantern, was just a touch warmer than the daylight outside (i believe it was 5000k)

    • #167317


      Those are nice setups. I like the touch with the mirrors. They can be a PIA for both as an unforgiving reflective surface and potential lighting hazard. When done well, it’s pretty cool.

      Yeah WB isn’t that tough, but you should see the screens go blank when I’m teaching the theory side of it! I don’t feel bad because I had similar levels of smoke coming out of my ears when I first learned it. However, student’s get the picture when you let them purposely shoot at the wrong color temp.

      Concerning CF Bulbs, man I dig them! That Daylight bulb you used was 6500k (if bought off the shelf.) Makes for perfect simulated sunlight on the cheap. I’ve seen 200w equivalent CF bulbs, but only as 3-way style units. The biggest I’ve seen so far is the 300w equivalent (and they are large.) Indoor only so far as I have yet to find a credible (and inexpensive) source for the Daylight version.

    • #167318

      Composite and DOn,

      Your discussion about color temperature is helping me understand. I am almost tempted to say that the light bulb is lighting up in my brain but I won’t. I recently picked up a Acme-Lite Model No. 4 at a garage sale ($2, cheap is my middle name). It is a fixture to use with a super 8 movie camera. It is a sturdy holder for four screw-in light bulbs with two swithes (one switch for the two inner bulbs and other switch for two outer bulbs). It can be attached to a tripod and a camera mounted to the top. My intention was to use CF Bulbs with it. It has a maximum rating for four 375-watt light bulbs (1500 total). I have looked at CF Bulbs at Home Depot and didn’t know what I should look for as the color. Ithink that the higher number (daylight) is what i should use to simulate daylight. I also found CF Bulbs that are in the form of a spot light instead of the curly-Q shape. Am I heade in the right direction?

      Thanks for you time and attention.

    • #167319

      “Ithink that the higher number (daylight) is what i should use to
      simulate daylight. I also found CF Bulbs that are in the form of a spot
      light instead of the curly-Q shape. Am I heade in the right direction?”


      CF bulbs are for lighting the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now where folks get bent about using high-priced Pro Bulbs vs off-the shelf ones is that the pro’s are fully calibrated for video work and the ‘S-mart’ specials aren’t. Now long as you know this you can work around it. When using off the shelf bulbs (which I’ve been doing more and more lately), you just have to make sure you have a bit more light and do a proper white balance based on your bulb’s color temp. Just a couple of small steps that will make the diff between you getting the look you want in the field or wasting extra time and money doing it in post.

      As for whether to use ‘daylight’ or ‘indoor’ bulbs, it comes down to are you trying to simulate/match daylight or indoor lighting? Just remember that the daylight version of CF bulbs is 6500k (not 5200k which is considered the standard for daylight.) Daylight CF bulbs will give you a harsher ‘bluer’ light than traditional daylight bulbs. However, with some minor adjustments to exposure and a good white balance, they work just fine. Don’t mix daylight and indoor CF bulbs (or any other for that matter) as you will suffer the ‘tortures of the damned’ trying to get a consistent WB. Let alone the fun you’ll have with the footage in post!

    • #167320


      Thank you for taking the time to respond. This is my first time to enter a post. I have been reading these forums for quite a while and have been trying to soak in everythingfrom the generous people who share their knowledge. Thanks for the tip about not mixing daylight and indoor CF bulbs. I think that I will invest in an assortment of ‘S-mart’ bulbs (wattage and color temperature) and try some experimenting comparing the results. If a color doesn’t give me the results that I want, I can always use them around the house. I wonder if anybody else has had good results from a particular brand of ‘S-mart’ CF bulbs.

      Thanks again

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