How to Get Perfect Exposure and Colors On All You Videos

On this video cinematographer Tom Antos takes us through his process of making sure he has the perfect exposure and colors on each of his shots.

Nailing both your exposure and color is essential. It isn’t that difficult but it is a skill that you must learn, and on this video Antos shares his method for doing that – it might look complex at first (it is a bit of a long video) but it is worth learning – at the very least so you will have another method for getting exposure/color.

There are two things that you need for Antos system – you will need to have a grey card and or better yet a  ColorChecker Passport (see links below for both) and you will need to know how to use them in post (in this case Antos uses Premiere but similar process can be done in other post-processing software.

The on-camera part is super easy – have your talent hold the card/passport next to his face where you shoot (if you are shooting in different lighting conditions you might need to do that for each location (if you are shooting on the move outdoors, though this whole thing is much more complicated).

To set the exposure correctly you can use the zebras on your camera and set them so they will won’t show (but just barely) on the middle grey of the card (which is 40% on the Xrite card he is using, for an 18% grey card you will need to set your zebras lower but not all cameras have this option). You can also do this by using waveforms if you have this on your camera or monitor.

To make sure your colors are correct you should set your white balance – again on the grey card, and use custom white balance.

This is all pretty straightforward stuff the more interesting part has to do with the finer tuning that you can do in post – you don’t have to do this and your image might be pretty well exposed (and the colors near perfect as it is) but you can achieve more if you know what to do in post so you can watch Antos explanations on Premiere Pro starting at around 10:00 in the video.

If you need a gray reference reflector card – you can get an inexpensive on on Amazon and the somewhat more expensive X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video.

You can watch more HDSLR and video techniques on our dedicated HDSLR channel here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.