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Top Ten Video Mistakes: 8. Color Balance

Have you ever watched a video that is all blue – or all orange, for that matter?  Or have you ever seen a video where the colors change from blue to orange, and then back again?  This is the world of color balance.

Light comes in many different “temperatures.” When you white balance your camera for, say, the cool temperature of outdoor light and then wander inside, where the overhead lights are warmer, your picture will turn orange.  When moving from outdoors to indoors, or visa versa, use the white balance button to reset the temperature as necessary.  Most cameras have an auto white balance feature, which takes away the need to think about it.  The problem with this feature is that if you move around, it changes the color of your image.  This can be very distracting in a mixed-light scenario, where maybe you’re in a room with both overhead lights and windows.  Every time you pan around the room, the color of the picture changes.  It’s best to manually set the color balance for the camera and reset it when you change locations or when the time of day changes.

The best cameras will let you balance by shooting a white card.  Basically, you are telling the camera “This is white,” when you point to the card.  Fill about 80% of the frame, set the exposure, and focus on the white card – then press and hold down the white balance button.  Remember to do this whenever you change locations, or whenever the lighting changes.

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