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  • Should I match the white balance on camera and my lights in a studio?

     Mark Suszko updated 1 month, 1 week ago 2 Members · 3 Posts
  • Alex Newton

    June 10, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    Hi all, if I’m filming in a blacked out studio and want a normal, natural lighting setup (say for an interview), then should I make sure the colour temperature on my camera and my lights matches? Also, as a general rule for a normal, natural lighting setup, should that setting be 5600k?

  • Mark Suszko

    June 11, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    The short simple answer is “yes” balance to daylight color temp on everything.

    The more nuanced answer is; “maybe”.

    Indoors, there is no hard rule you must favor tungsten or daylight for the white balance: it’s all about the look you are trying to achieve, and which balance makes that look easier to achieve.

    There is no one “normal” “natural” interview lighting setup. Once you do your white balance, that is a base level for the color reproduction, which you would then probably start to enhance in one way or another to get to a final look for the colors, on the set, or in post. A shot white balanced to daylight and one balanced to tungsten are, all other things equal, going to look pretty similar in color rendition with, one a little “warmer” (the tungsten balance) than the daylight. The difference can be subtle, or blatant, if you mix sources in the shot with varying temps. What kind of instruments are in your studio? Are they fixed to a particular white balance?

    Also, when you light for “daylight”, I gotta ask; what time of day is the daylight? Sunrise/sunset is going to be much warmer than high noon. Your “daylight” at sunset could look closer to a tungsten white balance at that time of day.


    If you are going for a classical three-point-lit, two-chairs and a potted plant kind of interview set, I’d suggest an indoor white balance.

  • Mark Suszko

    June 11, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Now I’m gonna ask you what “natural” means to you. Hard light or soft? Obvious lighting or more subtle? That’s not a color temp question but one of type of instrument used and the technique. Do you have spotlights that can focus from hard-edge to soft? Do you have soft boxes or banks? Do you have bounce cards for the fill lighting? If “natural” to you means the lighting isn’t attracting attention, then I gather you want soft light from broad-front sources, or a lot of bounced light.

    You mention what might be a black room limbo type setting, perhaps something like what was used on Charlie Rose interviews. Okay, for that, you need a lot of control to keep the spill from raising the overall level and revealing the walls. Lots of barn doors and cutters and maybe even a “negative fill” black card on a stand, just out of shot. Short depth of field helps here too. I would use soft lights with attached grids to keep the light from spreading too far off the talent, and I’d keep the number of lights small, making each key work double-duty as fill for the other side of the interview. If I didn’t have the big soft lights, I would use PARs with Roscolux tough Opal or spun glass tough-spun diffusion, and maybe extend the barn doors on the lights with some black cinefoil.

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