You don't have to white balance using a white piece of paper. Ex-BBC cameraman Dick Greening taught me that you can achieve cheap effects by white balancing on coloured pieces of paper found in most offices. If you can't afford expensive filters, then start collecting coloured paper and start experimenting.
All the images were recorded onto tape using a PD150. They were then transferred on to a memory stick and saved for the web using Photoshop V6. I have not manipulated the colour of the images in any way. What you see, is what I got ;-) [BUT, your monitor, Web browser and/or operating system may not be set up to show exactly the same colour cast.]
Of course, all these effects could be added in post production - if you have a nonlinear editor (like Final Cut Pro or Avid Xpress) which allows you to manipulate colour easily. But, if you haven't got the right software, this is a very cheap and easy way to do it. If you are unsure of whether you want this effect or not, do another take without it....
Getting creative with white balancing - different lighting conditions different settings
White balancing the PD 150
White balancing the DSR 500
White balancing the VX1000
> Should a white card be pure white ? I scanned the card and it appears to have a slight blue tint to it.
It should be as white as possible. But, grey will do too - because grey is just "dark white".
For more in depth stuff on white balance I highly recommend the excellent piece by Ex BBC cameraman Tony Grant and our own piece on white balance settings under different conditions.
If you want to do some cheap effects you can white balance on almost any colour (see above). Just experiment and see what you get. I was taught not to white balance on clothing because washing powders have optical brightners that can skew your white balance. Remember "Daz gives you bluey whiteness".
>>>>WHEN do we need to white-balance anyway?<<<<<
a.. In mixed light (e.g. in a tungsten lit room with daylight
coming through a window).
Remember, continuity isn't just about the set and wardrobe - you need consistency in picture quality too.
>>>>>Should I white balance before every shot?<<<<<<
Not really. But, for example - If all your shots are outdoors then one white balance would probably do. But, if you shoot some stuff indoors then go outdoors - you'll need to do a WB for each location.
>>>>Only if its dark or bright?<<<<
If it is really dark then the only light around will be artificial light in this case the "lightbulb setting" (3200K) can work. Otherwise the auto WB will be ok. Most night time shots will look a bit orange due to sodium street lights. Sodiums are pretty much a big spike of orange light.
Brightness doesn't effect WB that much. Although shade and full sun do have different colour temperatures (shade is bluer). On bright days I WB in the shade and it helps to warm up the pictures in full sun.
Outside mainly? Funnily enough I think indoors is trickier. Fluorescents are a pain because they can come in all sorts of colours. Plus, there is almost always mixed light indoors. Which means the area of the room nearest the window will be a different colour temperature to the rest of the room. Nurse - the screens!