How to Manage Color Temperature Effectively to Produce Better Looking Video [Reel Rebel #17]

How to Manage Color Temperature Effectively to Produce Better Looking Video [Reel Rebel #17]

On this week's Reel Rebel video production tutorial, Stephen Schweickart provides an overview of color temperature.  Understanding how to adjust and balance color that is captured from different lighting sources can ensure that you get the appropriate look for your shot and help minimize the amount of time that you spend doing color correction in post-production.

Video cameras needs to know the color temperature of light you are using in order to obtain the most realistic and quality representation of your shot. While it may be tempting to utilize the auto setting on the camera, it is fairly simple and a much better idea to manage the color temperature yourself to ensure it is correct.

How to Manage Color Temperature Effectively to Produce Better Looking Video [Reel Rebel #17]Most often, you will likely be using one of two different light sources - daylight when you are shooting outside and tungsten when you are shooting inside.

Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin Scale (K).  You have 5,500K for daylight and 3,200K for tungsten.  These numbers change based on the time of day or types of indoor lights you are using.  Once you know what type of light you are dealing with reference the instruction manual for your camera and set your camera so it knows what light you are currently shooting in.

In simple terms, daylight shines blue, according to what your camera sees, so shooting with the setting at 5,500 Kelvin lets your camera know to add orange to the scene instead of you having to add it later in editing.  At the opposite end, if you are shooting indoors, your camera needs to know to add blue to the scene to give your shots the actual look you are going for.

If you are shooting outside and only have tungsten lights you should consider using colored gels so as to balance the color temperature.  If you put a blue gel in front of your light, your orange tungsten light will read blue on the camera and the camera will be able to adjust accordingly.

View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, I’m Stephen Schweickart with VScreen where we make videos for companies and today, in partnership with ReelSEO, we’re going to be talking about Color Temperature.

Want to bring lights on your shoot? Want to shoot like a professional? Then you have to know a little something about color temperature. You can’t just plug in your camera and expect it to know what you’re doing. It’s not telepathic. You need to make sure It knows the temperature of light you’re using and we’re going to tell you how to distinguish that right now.

You’re most likely going to be dealing with one of two types of light daylight, when you’re outside, or tungsten when you’re inside. But knowing how to manage these vastly different colored lights is essential in making sure you aren’t stuck in the color correction process for days.

Color temperature of lights is measured on the kelvin scale. 5500 kelvin for daylight, and around 3200 kelvin for tungsten. This can change of course based on the time of day or the types of lights you’re using, but generally, that’s what you’re dealing with. Once you know what kind of light you’re filming with, pull out your instruction manual, unless you’re so pro that you know where the color temperature setting is, and make sure you’re camera knows what lights you’re using. If you don’t, you’re going to get back to your editing suite and realize you’ve made a gigantic mess for yourself.

In the simplest terms, daylight shines blue. At least that’s what the camera sees. Telling the camera you’re shooting at 5500 kelvin will let it know exactly how to adjust. So if you’re shooting outside, your camera will know to add orange to the scene to make sure all your footage doesn’t look like the hospital scene from Terminator 2. Conversely, if you’re shooting indoors with no outside light from windows or skylights, you need to make sure your camera is adding blue to the scene, by setting the color tempt to 3200, so your shots don’t all look like a romantic dinner at dusk.

“But Stephen what if I’m filming outside and I only have tungsten lights?!?! OMG MY SHOOT IS A FAILURE!”

Yikes, calm down. There’s an easy fix for that called colored gels. If you have a tungsten light, that if you remember shines orange, but you’re shooting outside in the blue sunlight, just slap a blue gel in front of your orange light and VOILA all of a sudden your orange light reads blue on camera and a 25 cent piece of equipment just saved your shoot.

More than likely your fancy camera will have that tempting “auto” setting, but take it from me, you want to manage this yourself. If you’re shooting an interview with a little blue light from outside, but lighting primarily with orange tungsten lights, that auto setting won’t know how to handle itself. You’re better off rolling that setting around in camera until you find a happy medium that works best for what you want the final output to look like. Unlike Terminator, the machine won’t make the best decision to save your life. In fact, it’ll probably make it quite miserable for a long, long time.

Take our advice. If you want your shots to look natural, learn how to manage your camera’s color temperature settings and get control of your picture. You’ll be happy you did.

Now since we just did all that work letting you know how to make your image look right, how ‘bout a little love from you. Click on the thumbs up and subscribe to get even more tips to help keep your videos from sucking.

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About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • cris

    What do you do when you are shooting indoors and there is light coming in from the window and you don't have control over blocking it out, and maybe a little of it is splashing onto the subject. I guess the better question may be how do you handle this in post.