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What Every Videographer Should Know About The Color Temperature Chart

To capture the best quality footage during filming, videographers must account for more than what’s included in the shot list — namely, unexpected changes in lighting. 

Even the most meticulous planners with detailed shot lists and years of experience still run into logistical issues in the moment. The lighting for a shoot may look spot-on in your perspective, but through a camera lens, the footage might end up looking far different. 

And there’s a reason for this. Our brains are hard-wired to overlook the irregularities in lighting that cameras pick up on. 

So if you’re a wedding videographer capturing footage for a client, your eyes might not have any difficulty processing changes in lighting from room-to-room. But if natural light filters through windows in any of these rooms, your camera isn’t able to adjust in the same way.

This is because the light sources that your camera picks up on have different color temperatures. 

When this occurs, it’s important that you’re able to act quickly and adjust your camera’s white balance setting. If you don’t, it’s likely that the footage you capture won’t turn out like you planned. 

This guide benefits new videographers and seasoned pros by breaking down everything you need to know about the color temperature chart. 

 

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Lighting 101: Color Temperature and White Balance

Color temperature and white balance go hand-in-hand. If the white balance in your footage is off, the most likely cause is that the color temperature hasn’t been accounted for correctly.

For context, color temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K). Every light source — i.e., a candle, a tungsten lamp, natural daylight, etc. — has a different color temperature. 

 

 

As you can see in the image above, some light sources are warmer or cooler than others. Color temperature exists on a spectrum from about 1,000K to 10,000K. 

But what does this actually mean for your day-to-day work? 

Let’s revisit the wedding videographer role, for a moment. As you capture footage for your client, it’s important to know how different indoor and outdoor settings impact the lighting. 

If you’re filming an outdoor ceremony in the middle of the day, you’ll need to adjust your camera’s white balance to a color temperature setting around 5,200K. If the ceremony takes place indoors, the warmer lights mean that your camera’s color temperature setting should be closer to 3,200K.

Not only do you need to account for indoor and outdoor lighting, you should also be aware of how natural lighting changes throughout the day. 

Adjusting the White Balance Setting in Your Video

For any type of videography project, an understanding of color temperature can help you achieve the right white balance in your videos. In turn, the right white balance ensures that the footage you capture is top quality.

As soon as you arrive at the scene of a shoot, it’s smart to refer to the color temperature chart and adjust your camera’s white balance setting based on the type of lighting.  

If you’re filming indoors but your camera’s white balance is set to a higher color temperature (5,000K or so), your captured footage will likely have a blue-ish tint. On the other hand, a lower white balance setting for an outdoor shot will give your footage a red-ish tint.

This is all to say that white balance plays a significant role in ensuring that the colors in your shots aren’t altered or distorted. 

Content creator Matt Johnson offers helpful insight on the topic of white balance and color temperature in the video below.

 

 

When it comes to finding the most compatible white balance setting for your shot, we’re sharing a few practical tips to do so:   

Manually Set the White Balance

Though cameras will almost always have auto adjustment features for white balance, not every camera’s auto setting will be the same. 

If you rely on an auto setting when using more than one camera during a shoot, there’s a high probability that the footage won’t visually blend together. Because the auto setting is a fixed setting, it’s not a dependable option for every indoor, outdoor, or mixed lighting location.

Though you can correct any inconsistencies during post-production, you can avoid unnecessary hassle by manually adjusting the white balance setting. This way, you can work with multiple cameras in any type of lighting and have more control over the video’s appearance.

Use a Gray Card for Accuracy

If you’re ever unsure whether or not the white balance setting is the right one, a gray card allows you to manually adjust the setting with more accuracy. A gray card serves the dual purpose of helping you adjust the exposure and the white balance in your shot. 

Save Time and Money with CTB and CTO Gels

Finding the right white balance setting becomes more difficult when you’re filming with mixed color temperatures — i.e., a combination of indoor lighting and outdoor lighting.

This is extremely common, but there is a way to remedy the situation during filming rather than post-production. 

To get right to the point, CTB and CTO gels are cost-effective and adaptable solutions to filming in locations with mixed color temperatures. 

CTB, or Color Temperature B, is a thin colored film that can cover indoor lighting to add coolness and better match the temperature of natural light. CTO, or Color Temperature Orange, creates the opposite effect to add warmth to a higher temperature light source.

Reduce Work During Post-Production

With a more comprehensive understanding of the color temperature chart, adjusting the white balance during filming can quickly become second nature to you. 

Minor adjustments to the white balance setting in your camera may drastically improve the color quality of your footage and limit the time you have to spend color correcting during post-production. 

As you know, post-production is already an intensive stage of the production process. If you know how to prevent further complication, you can devote more time to creating a project you’re proud of.

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