White Balance is the first thing that I start working on a shot for Color grading. Only when we have correct tone, any stylisation Exposure corrections will give correct Color depth. My humble request to all DPs is to get the White Balance in Camera. One might argue, I am shooting RAW, why not fix it in Post. I am writing a entire post of RAW to understand, what does it mean to film RAW.
First would like to thank Neumann Films for letting us the footage for the Tutorial.
Method 1 : Using Curves
Before you start with any Color correction, play the entire shot, even the entire sequence to understand the emotional and locational context of the Shot. And skim the entire shot if you could find a element in the shot that you know that would be neutral in Color.(white , shades of grey) It could be cloud, a white snow, if interior a white wall , a white dress, something that you could be sure would be neutral in color.
Luckily in this shot we have snow, so we would use that.
Go to curves panel and use pen tool to click on the snow area
the curves are showing a warm tone. The White dot represents the luminance, and you see the red dot is higher than the luminance white dot. If a pure neutral pixel will have all red, blue and green aligning on top each other. by looking at the red and blue dots we can say this is not a neutral pixel. We can fix this in the next step
the idea is to get the red , green and blue dots to align horizontally to the white dot. But make sure that you are moving the dots just vertically and not changing their horizontal position. Once all three dots are aligned to a horizontally to the white dot, wow ! shot gets white balanced, its that simple
After White Balance using Curves
Method 2 : Using Waveform
Same as method 1, start by analysing your shot, look for a white neutral patch, draw mask around white, neutral area. Switch on your highlight node mode, to show your selection, position it so that you see just the white portion of the image selected.
When you look at the waveform, you can see that the red is higher than the blue, which shows that there is a warm color cast in the shot. When the color is neutral, the red, green, blue mix equally to show white. So we will get the red lower and blue higher for to align with green, by using primary color wheels, in the next step
Turn the primary color wheels on, move your gain controls to blue, to get the red lower. Once red and blue match, move in the direction opposite to green to get all three colours align to white.
Why are we making changes to gain controls ? Because, the color corrections moves from light to dark, as we make. changes in gain, the whole image gets transformed in the midtowns and shadows as well. Now the shot is white balanced….
Method 3 : Skin tone
What happens when the shot has no white neutral point ? How can I get the white balance in that case ?
There is a work around. If I am going to ask to what is your skin tone, you might say, white, black , brown, yellow, pinkish or maybe some color 🙂 I don’t know ….
But skin has no color, its very neutral, in shades of grey. I hear you screaming 🙂 skin doesn’t reflect like a metal object would do, it bounces light inside and going out in all direction, and the blood acts a red color filter, that gives the sense of color of a skin. The blood color of all humans are same, so the skin color is the same.
Having understood this. Move to vector scope,(we will discuss vector scope in a future video). Click on the setting on the right hand corner. Switch on the skin tone indicator
Now draw a mask to the skin and switch on highlight mode in display, so only the color of skin is shown in Vectorscope.
Again as in method 2, go to primary color wheel, gain controls and move the centre in the direction to get the skin colors to align with the skin tone indicator. Once we have done this, lets look at the image
As you can see, the image still has a color cast. This is a extreme case, here we bring our 4th method, to get the white balance.
Method 4 : Vectorscope
We will bring in the vector scope. You see a white blob, it represents the color information in the image.
The vector scope corresponds with the color wheel, the top left is your red-yellow and bottom left is green and so forth, as it is in color wheel.
The white blob is fully in the red spectrum. In a normal white balanced shot, the white bolb is usually centred. (ofcource, there are variables of set props and clothing will differ and affect the centre point) for most shot it would be centre aligned. so let using the primary color wheel gain control move and align the white blob to centre. This is not pure science, with experience you will get the confidence and feel for it.
there you go, there is your white balanced shot.
Before White Balance
After White Balance