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TV Safe White?

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Anthony Fennell
TV Safe White?
on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:42:07 pm

I shoot events often with white place cards in front of a panel. The cards are framed out most of the time but when they get in the shot they are blown out. To make matters worse the place cards are set in shinny plexi-glass
I remember the term TV safe white from my days at NBC years ago.
Anyone remember the % white ? Any suggestions? What paper to order to help this problem?
Its strange that week after week of events this has never been addressed with the client but I dont wanna say anything till I have a good solution.
Unfortunately gripping the problem is not possible, and the cards have to stay
Thanks for the help


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Dave LaRonde
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:57:39 pm

[Anthony Fennell] "...I shoot events often with white place cards in front of a panel...."

I'll guess that you'll also be cutting this video. If the white cards and their reflecting holders are the offenders in your shot, remember that most NLE's have video levels controls or effects. You can pull the highlights wdown without affecting the levels in the rest of the shot.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Anthony Fennell
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 9, 2009 at 9:13:59 pm

Thanks Dave.
I was hoping there was a magical percent white that doesn't reflect as much so that the names could actually be read on the cards when lowering the levels in post.
I know when they printed on foam core for the weather set they asked for TV white . It was probably more of an opacity texture thing but I seem to remember them being less white than the white cards.
It sure would save time in the edit room.



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Mark Suszko
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 10, 2009 at 2:00:03 pm

Ask them to print the cards on flat, light gray paper next time, offer to supply the paper. As far as the plexi holders, often all you need to fix this is to jam a little wad of rolled-up paper or gaffer tape under the back of the frame so the top tilts forward just a couple of degrees, and your reflection problem is solved.

I think if the name cards are *that* blown out, it suggests to me your overall scene is under-lit in the area where people sit, or your contrast range is too great, again, supplemetal lighting may be indicated. Do none of the speakers wear white shirts? Do those look blown-out too? I'll guess that we're talking about a table near a powerpoint slide screen. For that kind fo deal, you need to light carefully so excess spill doesn't wash out the screen.

"TV white" is whatever makes the waveform scope peak at 100 IRE units, and that depends on many live variables from scene to scene. If you mean what color on, say, a web page color pallette corresponds, or what Pantone shade number, so you can pick up blank sign paper in that color, I'd have to look that up, it will actually be some kind of a very light gray.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 10, 2009 at 3:40:27 pm

[Anthony Fennell] "I was hoping there was a magical percent white that doesn't reflect as much so that the names could actually be read on the cards when lowering the levels in post.
I know when they printed on foam core for the weather set they asked for TV white."


As Mark says, get them to print on slightly-gray cards to lower the contrast. And as for the foam core deal, remember that a studio set is a closed environment where the lighting is set, the set pieces are chosen carefully, etc. You can get away with the concept of TV white because a set's designed so you don't have to change the iris a lot.

perhaps that's not a big deal for modern auto-iris cameras, but in the days when studio cameras were the size of coffins and EVERYTHING was manual, tweaking the iris was a big pain.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Anthony Fennell
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 10, 2009 at 9:41:26 pm

Thanks for the help.
"TV White" sounds more like " lingo" than a standard when talking about set pieces. I am going to get some panatone samples and test them.
You guys hit the nail on the head with the set being a fixed element and the screen behind the panel for the power points, the wrong lighting for the job etc
I just want to improve what elements I can until the next build-out.
Thanks for the replies
I love this site!




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Mark Suszko
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:30:09 am

Anthony, now that you've sort of confirmed our suspected diagnosis, may I offer two prescriptions that I use when faced with this same setup?

1: Use two cameras, one just on the slides, one just on the panel, edit later. This lets each camera lens expose correctly for just one situation at a time. You'll find I expect that the white name cards will stop blooming because you no longer need to overexpose them just to get a good read of the slide screen. If you're editing, the cards are unnecessary anyhow: you have on-screen titling tools that look better anyhow.

2: If you only have/can afford the one camera, don't sweat shooting the screen much at all, instead, grab a copy of the powerpoint and edit from that instead. Use the camera for the element you can't get later, the live panelists. Cut in the slides as jpegs full-frame, or once in a while make a "2-box" on the screen, one box the speaker in closeup, the other, the slide, side-by-side, like on cable news.

If you have never worked this way before, you bring a USB memory stick to the gig, and before the show or after, copy the powerpoint show off the laptop or whatever. If you don't have the Powerpoint full application at home, open Powerpoint up on the speaker's laptop and tell it to save a copy of the show as jpeg or tif files into a folder, then save that folder to your memory stick. The export dialog to do this is easy up under the "FILE" menu item. You can drop those into your edit system and/or photoshop and make them awesome quality for TV, compared to trying to capture off a dim projection screen at lower resolution.

2b: Sometimes I mix both methods: if I can't know for sure that I'll get the slides later, (speaker is in mad rush to make the plane or something) and I only have one camera, what I do is shoot the panelists/speakers without the screen in their shot for 90 percent of the time.

I only re-frame and shoot the screen or screen plus speaker, for a second, only when the slide changes significantly, because later in the edit session, it is trivial to freeze that shot and stretch it to cover more time as needed. The edited result looks like 2-camera live switch when you're done, and both the screen and the panel are well-exposed. You usually can get the powerpoints sent to you by email later. I tend to only leave the slide up in view long enough to orient the viewer to the material, and as sort of a "chapter" or section divider. You want the live speakers on screen most of the time.

The slides also can be used as cut-aways to cover a change in shot with your zoom: do a FAST flick-in or out during the time somebody catches their breath or is reading along with the slide, only takes a second with manual controls. By the time the edited slide shot is over, you're back to the speaker on a new shot, visually more stimulating and refreshing, and it looks again like you have more than one camera on the job.

Try some of these ideas out next time and let us know how they work out.


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Anthony Fennell
Re: TV Safe White?
on Mar 18, 2009 at 9:27:27 pm

Uh thanks for the rather thorough answers. The TV safe white I have found is a Neutral gray or Dove Grey. They just needed to be on the lightest side of the ten shades of gray that video produces.
They both look great, they get rid of the noise, they still look white to the facilitators and it solves the over exposed row of nameplates.
TV WHITE = 60% reflectance
TV Black = 3%
I also did a wet sand on the plexi cardholders and no more glare, my first idea of hair spray (streaks and tips) got a few laughs.

Sometimes the best solution is the most simple :)
Cheers

PS In my Google search for TV White the TV white safe zone has become an engaging development. Heaven help us!!
Who ever said air was free??



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