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Re: quick fluorescent correction

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Rick Wise
Re: quick fluorescent correction
on Aug 1, 2012 at 7:23:18 pm

There are several different ways to tackle this issue of color balance along both the red-blue and magenta-green color axes. One is to use a color meter. Those, alas, cost around a grand, though you can find good used ones for less. Whatever "correction" the color meter gives you for a specific light, usually it's best to apply only 1/2 the correction.

Another is to work with a professional monitor. Your observation that every time you use the shared monitor it looks different is no doubt because other users are tweaking it to look "right" without actually setting it up correctly. Here's one of many articles about setting up CRT monitors.

Whatever method you use, manually white-balancing the primary shot to a gray card or piece of true-white paper set in the dominant light of the scene is probably going to give you the best results. Sometimes you may want to warm up the scene slightly by placing a sheet of 1/8 ctb set in front of the lens as you white balance. Equally, if you want a cooler look, set a sheet of 1/8 cto in the front of the lens. The camera will correct for the extra blue in the first case, rendering the scene warmer, and the opposite in the second case. If you can trust your editor to correct in post, it may be better to let him/her make that adjustment later. Do shoot a cu of a gray card in that dominant light to give the editor a handle on how the colors are being recorded (after you have made all your changes, but before you actually shoot the scene.)

Relying on the eye is difficult because we adjust our vision to the circumstances. A piece of white paper under fluorescent appears to us to be white, and then again white when we put it in either shaded or direct sunlight. Photographically, they will be very different. However, with a lot of experience, some gaffers and cinematographers can spot green or other casts.

Rick Wise
San Francisco Bay Area

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