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Balancing Windows to Flouro?

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Bill Moore
Balancing Windows to Flouro?
on Jun 3, 2008 at 3:26:39 pm

Hello all you amazing lighting pros! I have a question for you. I have looked all around the internet and could not find an answer, so I figure someone here must know.

What type of gel should I use on a window to balance out the color to match fluorescent lights? I am stuck with flouro lighting in the room, and flouro bulbs (the spiral-ish kind) in softboxes. They say they are rated at 5500k, but they still look greenish to my eye. Balancing for the lights, window light is coming in a little bluish, so I'm thinking a roll of CTO on the window with some ND to cut down the blown out highlights?

Take a look at my screen grab (here) if you would be so kind. Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!


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Rick Wise
Re: Balancing Windows to Flouro?
on Jun 3, 2008 at 4:26:47 pm

Your color-corrected shot looks quite pleasant, decidedly high-key. If you like, you could use one-half CTO to warm up the window light a bit, but if everything is daylight -- the fluoros, the window, etc., there's no reason to do so unless you want the outside light to look warm as if it were late afternoon or early morning light.

It is highly likely you are correctly seeing a green spike in the existing fluorescents. All ordinary fluorescents have this spike. Professional fluorescents, such as KinoFlos, do not.(The eye actually has a hard time catching that green.) If the dominant light source in the room is existing fluorescents, then one way to handle them is to add about 1/4 PLUS green to everything else -- windows, additional correctly balanced lights. The other way to go is to add about 1/4 MINUS green (magenta) to the fluorescents, taking away their green spike.

However, from your color-correct image, it looks to me like that's a lot of unnecessary work. In post you seem to be easily able to remove the green spike. The other thing you might play with is the color curve for your shot(s) -- boost the highlights and crush blacks a bit -- in effect adding a steeper gamma than the original. This almost always works to improve video footage.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Bill Moore
Re: Balancing Windows to Flouro?
on Jun 3, 2008 at 6:03:20 pm

Thanks for the advice. Would you recommend some ND in those gels? If so, what level would you imagine?

Bill Moore
bill@lot25dmp.com
http://www.lot25dmp.com


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Rick Wise
Re: Balancing Windows to Flouro?
on Jun 3, 2008 at 6:26:28 pm

From what I see in your picture, I see zero need to slow down the window. If, however, you want to open the blinds, then you probably will need to do that. Remember, it never looks real if the outside balances with the inside. Let the outside be about 2-3 stops "too" hot. How much ND would you need? No idea. Probably ND 6 (2 stops) but maybe much more. There is also RoscoScrim, but it needs to be out of focus to be invisible. It will help you if the sun is aimed toward your window, so that whatever you see out the window is in the shade -- unless it's a large open space.

An exception to letting the outside be hot is when you have a room where the wall is essentially one giant window, and the outside really visually moves into the inside. Then you need to make it all look "correctly" exposed. You can see an interesting example of how difficult that can be in the movie, Miami Vice. The scene in the drug lord's house. According to reports I've read, the DP had a bank of 18 Ks only a few feet from the actors, which was most uncomfortable. And it still didn't look right, to my eyes. This is a situation where film shines and video still sucks, though it's catching up quickly.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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