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How to Make Look-Up Tables in After Effects and Premiere Pro (DIY Color Preset LUTs)

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In this lesson you will learn how to create your own color look-up tables (commonly referred to as LUTs) in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro.

What You Need

Besides After Effects or Premiere Pro, in order to follow along with this lesson you will need to download a free plug-in from Red Giant called LUT Buddy. LUT Buddy will let you generate and export the color information needed to create a LUT, which you can then use with any other software that supports LUTs.

If you're new to LUTs and need a primer don't worry, we've got you covered: check out our introduction to color look-up tables.

Make Your Own Look Up Tables With LUT Buddy

I often refer to LUTs as 'universal color presets' because they work in a similar manner to a color preset, but they are universal in the sense that they can be used across a variety of different applications.

It is important to note that LUTs can only contain color values so, unlike effects presets, they can't read things like blurs, sharpening, or grain if they are applied to your footage. These effects will actually cause errors if they are applied when you are exporting a LUT.

We start with the After Effects workflow in the video above. The Premiere Pro workflow is covered at 6:20 on.

1. Create the Reference Layer

This puts a standard pattern on your footage that LUT Buddy will reference when it creates the LUT.

After Effects

First, grab your footage and add it to a new Composition

Next, create an Adjustment Layer (Layer > New > Adjustment Layer) and name it Draw. Select your adjustment layer and go to Effect > Red Giant > LUT Buddy. In the LUT Buddy effect palette, go to Action and select Draw Pattern. Change the Pattern to 3D 64.

Premiere Pro

Put your footage on the timeline. Go to the Projects palette, right-click and select New > Adjustment Layer. Rename the layer Draw and drag it onto the timeline above your footage. Find LUT Buddy in the Effects palette and drag it onto your adjustment layer to apply. Go to Effect Controls and for Action select Draw Pattern and for Pattern select 3D 64.

2. Create the Grade

After Effects

Add a new adjustment layer above the Draw layer, and name it Grade. Put all your color correction and grading on this layer.

Premiere Pro

Make a new adjustment layer above everything and name it Grade. Select Lumitri in the Effects palette. Drag and drop onto your Grade adjustment layer to apply, and make your adjustments.

Image of grass before and after applucation of a film LUT
After and before application of a LUT to convert log footage to the Rec. 709 color space.

3. Create the Read Layer

This step puts a second standard pattern on your footage that LUT Buddy will use to compare to your original and create the LUT.

After Effects

Create a new Adjustment Layer (Layer > New > Adjustment Layer) above everything else and name it Read. Select the layer and go to Effect > Red Giant LUT Buddy. In the LUT Buddy effect palette, go to Action and select Read Pattern. Change the Pattern to 3D 64

Premiere Pro

Go to the Projects palette and make a new Adjustment Layer. Rename the layer Read and drag it onto the timeline, again above everything else. Find LUT Buddy in the Effects palette and drag it onto your adjustment layer to apply. Go to Effect Controls and select Read Pattern and 3D 64.

4. Save Your New Look Up Table

Alright, time to save your work.

After Effects

On the LUT Buddy effects palette, click Options. Select Export LUT... In the dialogue box that pops up. Give your LUT a file name, select the file type (I usually use .cube files) and hit Save. Click Done in the pop-up box.

Premiere Pro

First, change your preview window from Fit to 100%. I've had some errors using Fit.

Click the Setup icon (a little arrow and box) under Effects Controls, which will load a pop-up. Select Export LUT..., give your LUT a file name, select the file type (I usually use .cube files) and hit Save. Click Done in the pop-up box.

Done!

And that's it! Now you can make as many LUTs as you like.

Try Some Pre-Made LUTs

Here are five of the top LUTs from Envato Elements for you to try out—they're all included in a monthly subscription so you can test as many as you like until you find something you love!

1. Creative LUTs Collection

This pack contains seven LUTs for creative color grading in just a few clicks. The cube format means you can use these LUTs in Premiere Pro, After Effects, and more.

Creative LUTs Collection
Creative LUTs Collection

2. MINIMAL—LUTs Pack | Color Grading

Less is more, so add a minimal but effective aesthetic to your videos with this set of LUTs. There are five great looks to choose from.

MINIMAL - LUTs Pack  Color Grading
MINIMAL—LUTs Pack | Color Grading

3. Travel film LUTs

Get an old-style film look with these Travel Film LUTs, adding a professional cinematic feel to your production.

Travel film LUTs
Travel film LUTs

4. Nude & Creamy | LUTs Pack

Add gentle beige, brown, and nude tones to your footage. It's a soft, elegant look that would suit fashion, travel, and beauty projects—and much more besides.

Nude  Creamy  LUTs Pack
Nude & Creamy | LUTs Pack

5. Night Magic—43 Lightroom Presets and LUTs

Level up your night photography with this pack of over 40 LUTs designed for low light, dark photography.

Night Magic - 43 Lightroom Presets and LUTs
Night Magic—43 Lightroom Presets and LUTs

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