How to White Balance a Camera

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White balancing a camera is something you have to do prior to the start of a day's shoot. White balance a camera with help from a filmmaker and freelance editor in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Filmmaking & Camera Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi guys. I'm Justin Z. I am an independent filmmaker living in the Los Angeles area and I am also a freelance editor for the entertainment industry. I've been getting some basic questions about filmmaking including this one, how to white balance your camera. Well white balance basically is making it so your camera sees a purer form of white. What I mean by that is when you're in different environments, if you don't calibrate the camera correctly, the camera will see white in different ways. For example, if we're in a tungsten light area that means that the lights in this room are lit with tungsten bulbs. So you have to calibrate the camera so it sees tungsten light which our eyes normally see as yellow as regular white. Same thing goes with different kinds of lights like fluorescent light or daylight or cloudy daylight. So the idea is that you want to calibrate your camera to make sure that the white seems natural. Each camera has different ways of doing this but since I have a Canon DSLR camera, I'm going to show you how to do this on my camera. So we click on this little button that says Q, we get a whole bunch of options. We can use this little scroll wheel right here and we can press on it. We can go up and down and we get this one little right here that says white florescent light on the bottom. That's the type of light that it is balancing for so we click on that by pressing set and we get all these different options. So I can go to auto white balance and usually it does a pretty good job of setting the white balance on its own. Then it gives you a bunch of different preset options, daylight, shade, obviously that isn't working, cloudy, tungsten light, there you go. We're using tungsten lights to light this set so that's why it works out so well, white fluorescent light, flash, custom which is basically a preset that you can set once you change the color temperature which is the last option and you use this wheel, the wheel on the top of the 60D to change the color temperature around. And basically what you want to do is put a white piece of paper in front of it, put it in front of it so it's completely shielding it and change the color temperature until it looks correct. And that's pretty good and it looks pretty normal but like I said, you can change the color temperature based on presets and that usually works pretty well especially with tungsten light. So that's the basic idea behind white balancing a camera. You have to do this with every shoot, very very important and especially if you have more than one person or more than one camera on the set. They both or all have to be white balanced. If you have any other questions regarding this or other subjects on filmmaking, feel free to ask.

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