Using LUTs—Look-Up Tables—is a great way to adjust the look of your film footage, whether it's correctively, or to colour grade. Most people use LUTs in their non-linear editing suites, but did you know you can often use them in your camera, too?
Here, we take a look at how you can install a LUT to the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera (4K) and then replicate that look with the same LUT by installing and using it in DaVinci Resolve.
Where to Find .Cube LUTs?
The reason I've chosen this set is that they're .cube format, so they're designed to work in DaVinci Resolve or Premiere, and also on the BlackMagic camera—with a little fiddling, but we'll get to that. I've also chosen them as they're cinematic, meaning they should show enough of a change that you'll get the idea of how they work, but not so much that we're fully colour grading our footage; it's more of a gentle correction and style.
Download your LUTs and unpack them to your preferred folder on your computer.
How to Install a LUT into DaVinci Resolve & Export a Copy
This is the fiddly bit I mentioned. Some LUTs will be fine to put right into your BlackMagic PCC, but there's a size limit of 1.5MB which some LUTs, including the one I'm using as a demo, go over. If you try and load an oversized LUT into the camera, it'll see it on your storage device but it won't import it, nor will it tell you why, which can be a bit frustrating.
Before you can import the LUT you'll need to resize it, but you can do this in Resolve.
Installing a LUT in Resolve—Option 1
With a project opened in Resolve, click on the settings icon in the bottom right corner. Where it says Lookup Tables, click on Open LUT Folder.
Your LUT Folder window will pop up and you can drop your LUTs into that, and then close. Then click Update Lists and Save.
To apply it, drop down 3D Input Lookup Table and select the correct LUT.
Installing a LUT in Resolve—Option 2
A slightly cheeky phrasing as this way you technically aren't installing the LUT, but it works just as well. In an open project, click on the Colour tab. Right-click on a node (looks like a thumbnail), navigate to 3D LUT and choose your LUT, and it'll be applied.
Exporting the LUT For Use in Camera
Now you have your LUT installed, you can export it again as a smaller version to use in your camera.
Once you've applied the LUT, head back to the Colour tab, right-click on the node and choose Generate 3D LUT (CUBE). In some versions of Resolve you'll have the choice of 33 Point Cube, 65 Point Cube or Panasonic VLUT.
If you don't have those options, selecting Generate 3D LUT will automatically create a 33 Point Cube, as that's the most universally compatible and it's what you'll need for a successful import into your BMPCC.
Save your LUT with a new name so that you don't overwrite your existing LUT. I added 'test' to the end of my filename so you can see it more easily when it comes to the camera install.
How to Install a LUT on the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera (4K)
Now you're ready to install your LUT onto your BMPCC, hooray. Pop your LUT/LUTs onto external storage that you'll then use with the camera, so an SD, CFAST, external hard drive etc.
In-camera, press Menu and choose LUTS at the top.
Press the option with two arrows facing opposite directions (data transfer) and choose Import LUT so that it's highlighted, then press Import.
Select the storage where you saved your LUT, in my case that's the SD card. One small quirk that's worth mentioning is that our BMPCC wouldn't see the SD card that the LUT was saved on until the external hard drive that was also connected, was unplugged.
Highlight your chosen LUT and hit Import. Importing LUT will appear. If it doesn't, the LUT hasn't imported and you'll need to try again or do some troubleshooting.
Now, when you go into your LUTS menu your LUT will be in the list to choose. To select it, just highlight it and press the tick.
The LUT is now installed, but you’ll still need to switch it on to view it in the monitor, or tell the camera to bake it in. So here’s how you do both of those.
BMPCC LUT Uses: Monitor LUT
If you're shooting log (logarithmic) footage, it's going to look very pale and flat. That's because it's keeping all the details of the footage for you to edit later. This can look a little uninspiring and hard to measure when it comes to judging what you're filming, so you can apply a LUT in camera to give you an idea of how your footage will look later, once edited.
In your Menu settings, choose Monitor and turn on Display 3D LUT.
This will now tell the camera to use the LUT you previously installed and selected, as a monitor LUT. This will not change your footage or bake the colouring into it, it's simply for display purposes so you can get an idea of what your finished imagery will look like. You can then replicate the look, with more control, back in DaVinci Resolve by using the LUT you originally installed.
BMPCC LUT Uses: 'Baking In'
If you're shooting in a way that's intended for you to do no editing at all to it, then you can bake in your LUT right in camera, which will apply the colour settings of that LUT to your footage. This is a really useful way to have some control over the colouring without needing to make edits in your software suite.
In Menu, under your Record settings, turn Record LUT to Clip to ON to apply the LUT to your footage.
As a filmmaker, you want the best of all worlds and LUTs are a great way to help achieve that. You can use them to pep up flat log footage as a Monitor LUT so that you can make decisions based on how you see your final imagery looking. You can then replicate the LUT in your editing suite to match what you had in mind while filming, but with a lot more control. And if speed is of the essence and you want some colour control without needing to edit, you can bake in a LUT right in camera.
The example set used in this article was from Envato Elements, where you can download as many LUTs as you like for one monthly subscription.
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