As a videographer, you’ll inevitably end up in a situation where you are told to shoot a quick interview with an important person that has little time to spare. You setup your lighting in a jiffy, but wouldn’t it be nice if the scene was a little warmer? Or cooler?
The talent is looking at his watch, ready to get on with it — so what do you do? It’s simple. Reach for the appropriate WarmCard, do a white balance, and get on with the shoot!
Ever since my first video job, I’ve relied upon the WarmCards White Balance Reference System for quick yet consistent white balancing. WarmCards help me get warmer and more appealing skin tones without any fuss. Simply aim the camera at the appropriate card and hit the white balance button.
Now you have more image control straight from the camera without the need for filters or gels. And, it’s so much faster than post-production color correction!
The cards come in two sizes — 6-by-9 inches and 4.5-by-6 inches. Although I’ve purchased both sets, the 6-by-9 are definitely more useful, since you can usually zoom in on that size without changing your camera position.
They’re made by Vortex Media in the USA out of a lightweight, durable, waterproof, extremely difficult to damage plastic material. They have a carrying case and chain lanyard through the card grommets for portability.
There are eight cards in the set. There are three different levels of bluish cards which help warm the scene, and there are two different yellowish cards that help cool the scene. While that may sound counterintuitive, remember that you are white balancing on the colored card to calibrate your camera’s baseline. Now that color is the “new neutral.”
In an interview scene, use the blue cards to add warmth and richness to skin tones. In an outdoor scene, use the yellow cards for a cooler look when shooting at dusk or to enhance the bluish tint of water or sky.
Rounding out the set is your typical white card and an 18% gray card that does provide a very slight warming effect. The gray card also doubles as a useful exposure tool for photographers.
Finally, there is the minus green card. Traditional fluorescent lighting is known to cast a greenish hue that is unflattering to skin tones. White balancing on the minus green card counters this tint to provide a more realistic color. Be aware that many facilities seem to use LED “fluorescent” tube lights nowadays, which can be at different color temperatures and don’t cast the greenish hue. So don’t whip out your minus green card until you know you’re dealing with traditional fluorescent lights.
Proper white balance matters and most times it isn’t as simple as performing it on a white surface or using your camera’s auto setting. I prefer to get more accurate tones right from the start by implementing WarmCards.