This question came to me recently:
My videos have been oddly yellowish. I read somewhere about ‘white balancing.’ I have a Sony Cybershot. Do I white balance on the camera during filming, do I do it during editing, if so where? Thank You so much for your help!
Although our eyes can’t perceive it, certain light sources give off a particular color temperature. These varying degrees of color are represented on the Kelvin scale. Tungsten bulbs burn at about 3200 degrees Kelvin, while sunlight burns at about 5600 degrees Kelvin. However, the color temperature of the sun doesn’t stay constant. It’s constantly changing as morning turns to afternoon and as afternoon turns to dusk. Our eyes can automatically compensate for this change in color temperature, but video cameras cannot. So, they need to be calibrated every time the light source changes. Otherwise, the footage can come out with an orange tint, blue tint, or even a green tint.
Calibrating a video camera to ensure correct color representation is called white balancing. Many cameras come with preset white balance settings for different shooting situations – indoor, daylight, cloudy, etc. However, conducting a manual white balance on your camera is the best way to ensure that all colors within your scene are represented correctly. There’s a great tutorial on color temperature and white balancing here. You can also read my production tip for shooting under fluorescent lights, which pose a different set of challenges.
To white balance, turn your camera’s white balance setting to manual. Then, hold a plain, white sheet of paper in front of the camera and zoom in until the paper fills the screen (make sure you hold the paper under the light source under which you will be filming). Then (this is true of most cameras with manual white balance), press and hold your white balance button until your camera confirms that a proper white balance has been set. Then, you’re ready to shoot. Just remember to re-white balance every time you change locations and lighting setups. Read this post for tips on how to adjust your white balance to a warmer or cooler tone.