The Power of Color Temperature

Craig OreillyAll Stories, Event Production

Brad Lowery shares his insights on the impact of Color Temperature.

When we think about the white light that we live in everyday, there is a huge range of color, from the blue-tinged light we see on an overcast summer day and from fluorescent bulbs, to the yellow or white light we see at late afternoon or from an older filament light bulb.

Color temperature is used to describe that range of color within white light, and is measured in Kelvin, usually from about 2,000 to 10,000 Kelvin. Kelvin units are actually a measurement of the temperature of stars, hotter stars emit bluer lights, and colder stars emit yellower lights.

Here’s a visual example of color temperature on me. We start in 6,500 K, the standard color temperature for cameras, and I’m going to drop to 5,000, 4,000, 3,000, and 2,500 Kelvin. And I’m pretty orange right now. Let’s restore it at 6,500.

Why is this important for a live event? Well first, color temperature has an effect on mood and behavior. Building designers often place bluer white light over offices and productive areas to help people focus, and yellower white light in hospitality or lounge areas for a more relaxed and calming effect. In a live event, I’ll often shift the color temperature of the room over the course of the day from a bluer light to help an audience focus during breakout sessions or presentations, and a yellower light to create a more relaxed atmosphere during dining or award ceremonies. When I’m in a trade show hall, I often find that the color temperature of the hall is not the quality of light that I want in my booth. Some halls are very yellow due to sodium vapor lights, and some are greenish and blue, due to mercury vapor lights. And some of our clients specifically want a color temperature of the booth and of the light on their equipment.

Often, our job is to color the booth in such a way as to counteract the hall lighting and create an evenly colored booth, and this can be done with either overwhelming the hall light with light of our own or emit some blueish light to recolor orange hall lighting and some orange light to recolor blueish hall lighting.

In stage shows and presentations, AVFX focus on color temperature is a delicate balance between lighting and cameras. Cameras need to be calibrated to the color temperature of a stage wash to ensure they accurately record the colors as we see them in the space. And then we calibrate our LED and projection screens to reproduce those colors accurately for our IMAG shots.

You can easily tell in an event when a camera or screen has not been calibrated. Colors look off, usually bluer, and skin tones can take on unflattering hues.

At AVFX, we calibrate color temperature because we want your booth and your presenters to look their best.

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