Look up tables (LUTs) can be a time-saving way to colour-grade your film footage. Not only that, they can provide you with inspiration if you’re not quite sure where to start. And if you're still gaining experience with editing they can help create grater consistency in your productions. LUTs are handy!
Try a LUT (or Two, or Three...)
I mentioned that LUTs are for colour grading. They’re a way to apply a particular look to your imagery with a controlled method, without having to make those changes yourself, though you can then tweak, adjust and change to suit your project. LUTs can be corrective—fixing the colour to bring it back to how it should look naturally—or creative, as the ones shown here, to add a particular look and feel or style to your film.
LUTs are often cross-compatible with different programmes. So if you find an Adobe Photoshop action pack, or a set of presets for Lightroom, it might often also contain LUT versions of those style files, so that you can then use them in Adobe After Effects, for example. Here is a tiny sample of the many great LUT packs from Envato Elements - they're all available to download as part of the subscription.
This very cool looking set contains 32 LUTs with bright, neon light effects. Shadows are desaturated and highlights become more vibrant, for a look that really pops!
There are 24 LUTs in this pack, to help you transform your footage to a gritty, urban style.
Add some color and warmth to your projects with Beach Sunset. They're easy to apply, and there's a user guide in case you need some help.
Pumpkin spice is unavoidable in the fall, but these After Effects LUTs won't leave a bad taste in your mouth. There are 20 color presets in this pack split across four categories: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
If you're after moodier tones, try Streetwear Lightroom Presets & LUTs. The grittier look of this download can be used for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and other programs. You can even use them on mobile devices.
Commonly Asked Questions About LUTs (FAQs)
You now know what LUTs are and have seen some examples of what they look like. But you might still have some questions about the topic. That's where I have you covered. I'm going to answer some common questions people have about LUTs:
1. Are LUTs for Beginners?
No! Because LUTs are time-savers, some might feel like they're cheating the color-grading process. But even professionals on big budget movie productions will use LUTs. So feel free to apply the color-grading look you want and know you're getting professional results.
2. Are LUTs Destructive?
Applying LUTs will save you lots of time, but it is important to know that they are a destructive form of editing. Basically, once you save, the pixels of the image that have had the LUT applied will be permanently changed. Make sure you're happy with the results before you save!
3. Do I Still Need to Color Correct?
This answer depends on the final look you're going for. Color correcting before the LUT can let you enhance the look of the LUT by making tweaks to your image. Color correcting after allows you to play with the final look of the LUT.
Essentially, correct before if you like the way the LUT looks. If you want to make changes to the LUT, you can correct after.
More Articles About LUTs
If you want to dive even deeper into the world of LUTs, check out these resources. They come courtesy of Envato Tuts+.