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Auto Balance is a color picker that allows you to remove a highlight color cast by clicking on a close-to-white area in your Preview Window. The parameter will then set a color that balances out the Red, Green and Blue components to make that white area neutral. If you choose to use this control, it should be the first one you set, even before adjusting the 3-Way settings. Auto Balance is a terrific first step to fixing a color issue in your footage.
Our Auto Balance works differently than other balance controls that you have used before. You don't click a button to let the software figure out the white color. Instead, you use an eyedropper tool to explicitly define what you think the white point should be in the image. The Auto Balance control then tries to correctly set the shadows and the highlights. The Auto Balance color chip reflects what it feels is the middle tone between the shadows and the highlights.
Another unique aspect of our Auto Balance is that it corrects for both the white point and the black point. Typically, a balance parameter only corrects for the white point.
Auto Balance only affects the shadows and highlights of your source footage. It does not adjust for the midtones. If you look at the changes that occur in the Primary stage's 3-Way wheels, only the Shadow and Highlight wheels will show a correction. The white point in the Highlight wheel and black point in the Shadow wheel move correspondingly. The Midtone wheel does not change.
Typically you will use the Auto Balance eyedropper tool to sample the white point. However, an alternate use is to click the color chip and choose your own color. This method sets that color to explicitly tint the image. Generally if you use this method, you are doing so to compensate for the perceived color tone. If the color is too hot and you want to cool it down, choose a blue color chip to turn the image more orange (its opposite on the color wheel).
Workflow Tip: Typically, the most accurate way to sample a white point is to click in the sclera, the white area of someone's eye. Teeth are always too yellowish to use as a good sample. If the sclera is too much in shadows, as in our example below, then sample from the whitest possible point of your image.
Top to bottom, the original image and image after Auto Balance. Red X marks the sample area. You can see changes in the Auto Balance color chip, Shadow wheel and Highlight wheel.