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CRI & Balanced Neutral Lighting

Light Quality and CRI

If you’ve ever tried to capture high quality video footage in artificial light you may have noticed that not all light is equal! Some artificial sources actually provide a very poor spectrum of light which your camera’s sensor may not respond well to.

Lights of lower ‘Color Rendering Index’ (CRI) can give poor results with a camera sensor often resulting in poor skin-tones or noisy inaccurate colors. The real world results can vary depending on the camera being used but in general ‘High CRI’ lights (Above 90) have a wide color spectrum and will produce images with more accurate colors which are more suitable for high quality color grading.

This video by David Bode from Tuts+ is actually a tutorial for making a budget lighting rig however he gives a great explanation of CRI and which lights to avoid.

Lighting for your grading studio

The same principles can be useful when choosing lighting for your color grading studio. It’s advisable to install balanced high-CRI light sources for happy eyes and better reference lighting. Your clients may bring physical reference materials during your color grading sessions such as photos, magazines & product packaging. Having color balanced high CRI lighting will help in this situation but also for lighting your room and the nice neutral wall which should be behind your calibrated reference monitor. As you can see from this video the cost of good basic lighting can be quite reasonable.

Further Reading

Definition: Color Rendering Index