Anyone using warm cards (warmcards.com)? Looking for opinions. I don't think using gels on lights for warming would be the same as it only warms the part of the subject the light actually hits, meaning shadows not reached by a fill light would not be affected. I think the warming effect with gels would be less intense with the intensity of the light as well (or put another way, as the light falls off the subject the warming effect lessens). TIA. Phil
A warm/cold card is just a fooler...it fools the camera into thinking it's balanced properly or that there is a uniform color temp. When you use the card, it's just like putting a filter on the lens - it affects everything. The cards may serve a use...if you're in an office with flo's or the whole scene needs correction and you can't correct individual light fixtures. You can still "paint" with your lights, but now you have to overcome the out of range white balance and possibly having to add more light with denser color gels.
Warming/cooling a scene with lighting gives you a lot more latitude. Say you need to warm a person, yet cool a wall - contrasts in emotion between a cold room and a distraught person. Or show the warmth in a room vs. the cold of the exterior light. The red glow of neon contrasting with the bluish (actually daylight)look of moonlight in a cheezy hotel room. And don't forget the "pop" of making a person stand out - like in a live shot situation - hitting them with a 3200k light in a fading daylight scene...a warm card's just going to redden up the late day look and fade your talent into it.
Granted, not everything we do is art...news lighting has always had the battle between fast and good and many low end commercials are in the same catagory - one hour to shoot, three hours in post for a budget station type spot leaves you little time to do more than throw up a pair of 1ks and light the room...hoping the talent stays in the sweet spot. But there's nothing other than time and lack of interest that precludes us from making even the simplest car lot spot into art.
When you get the opportunity to do more than slash a light on a wall and build a emotional palette of color on the walls and objects in the shot, it brings out a noticeable emotional response in the viewer...draws them in to the story you are telling. Picking what you want to bring out OR make disappear is a vital part of lighting for mood and tone - emotional cues the viewer may need to get your message.
It's what separates D.P's from lighting camera operators.
Frank is discounting the use of warmcards and makes some very good points. But I find that Sony cameras tend to run cold so I use a low grade warm card from Roger Macie to offset that. In addition to that I then use color to create contrast, etc. as Frank describes. So you might say I go both ways.
And you might try the trick that's been in use for years, and that is to white balance through a color correction gel (CTB/CTO). It usually only takes a 1/8 or 1/4 since you don't want to overdo it. This is becoming less useful as cameras start giving you more control over how they handle the image.
I've used the warm cards from warmcards.com. they worked very nicely for me in an art lab with multiple sources of light -- incadescents, D50s, daylight. helped give a more uniform tone to everything. they make a couple of half-steps in the kit too for more subtle adjustments.