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Color grading can feel daunting, especially if you don’t have much experience grading footage. Fortunately, LUTs can help you grade your footage almost effortlessly. Like your favorite Snapchat or Instagram filters, a LUT can instantly transform dull-looking footage into something more vibrant. So, what is a LUT?
LUT is an acronym for “look up table.” A LUT is a preset color that you can apply to footage to transform how it looks. Video editors, colorists, and filmmakers use LUTs to speed up color grading. However, you don’t need to be an experienced professional to use them. With minimal color grading and video editing experience, you can easily apply LUTs to your footage.
LUTs are usually denoted by the .LUT, .CUBE, or. 3DL file extensions. You can create LUTs using several video editing and color grading applications, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and Filmora. In this guide, we’ll explore how to create your own LUT and use custom LUTs in Filmora.
Why We Need to Create Our Own LUT
Many video editing tools usually come with pre-installed LUTs that you can quickly apply to footage. However, you may need to create your own LUT in some cases. Here are some reasons why you may need to create your own LUT:
1. To Create a Particular Feeling
Clients may want their videos to evoke a particular emotion. If the pre-installed LUTs that come with your video editing software can’t evoke the particular feeling the client wants, you may need to create your own LUT. Some key questions to ask yourself when creating the LUT include:
- What is the genre of the video project?
- What kind of atmosphere do you want to create?
- Are there any colors or tones that you should emphasize?
- Once you ask yourself these questions, you’ll be able to create an appropriate LUT for the client.
For instance, if the genre of the video project is a comedy, you may want to create a LUT that highlights orange, yellow, and its tones to create a cheerful atmosphere.
On the other hand, if the project’s genre is an action video, you may want to create a LUT that highlights blue, green, and other similar tones to evoke a serious feeling.
2. To Showcase Several Looks
Color grading often comes down to preference. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when grading footage, especially if the video project is on a neutral topic.
Creating custom LUTs can allow you to preview different looks for clients and allow them to choose the footage they like.
3. To Speed Up the Color Grading Process
Perhaps the biggest pro of LUTs is their ability to speed up the color grading process. Creating your own LUTs can allow you to use the same LUT for multiple projects that are similar and save time during color grading.
In addition, since color grading can take a considerable amount of time, creating your own LUTs can be helpful if you regularly work on projects with tight deadlines.
And if you’re working with an editor or team of editors, adding your own LUT to the footage can speed up editing and give the final cut a more refined look.
4. When Working with Multiple Editing Tools
Nearly all popular video editing applications support LUTs. If you regularly use several applications for editing and color grading, LUTs can help you quickly achieve the same colors across all the various applications you use.
All editing applications have different color grading tools, so it’s relatively challenging to achieve the same colors across several applications. Creating your own LUTs can make it easier to transfer color values between different software.
How to Create Your Own LUT
Creating LUTs is fairly simple. However, to create effective LUTs, ensure you prepare your source footage to avoid issues down the line when applying the LUT to your footage.
Here are some crucial things you should do when prepping your source footage:
- Ensure your exposure is perfect.
- Ensure your white balance is correct.
- Ensure your lighting reflects an accurate balance of highlights and shadows.
By ensuring these things are in order, you will be able to create a versatile LUT that you can apply across a wide variety of footage.
After prepping your source footage, you can then create your own LUT. Here’s how you can create a LUT in Filmora following a few simple steps:
Tips for Filmora New Version Users
Step 1. Import the Footage
Launch Filmora and click on New Project. In the New Project window that opens, import your footage by clicking on Import and selecting one of the drop-down options.
Step 2. Add the Footage to the Timeline
Drag and drop the footage into your project’s timeline.
Step 3. Open the Color Tab
Double click on the video on the timeline to select it. Then, navigate to the top left panel and click on the Color tab.
Step 4. Create Your LUT
Under the Color tab, choose the '3D LUT' in Basic to customize your own LUTs.
Since you're creating your own LUT instead of using the pre-built LUTs, scroll down to adjust various things, such as the White Balance, Color, Light, HSL, and Vignette.
Tweak these settings until you’re satisfied with the results. To help you make the adjustments and balance the intensity of the colors in your footage, check the color histogram located at the top right corner of the window.
Step 5. Save Your LUT
If you’re satisfied with the results, click on the Save button locate in the menu bar.
You’ll need to name and save your LUT in the new window that opens. Give your LUT a descriptive name and click on OK to save it.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully created your own LUT.
How to Use Custom LUTs in Filmora
Step 1. Import the Footage
Follow steps 1, 2, and 3 in the section on creating your own LUT to launch Filmora, import your footage, add it to the project timeline, and open the Color tab.
Step 2. Apply the Custom LUT
Under the Color tab, click on the All Presets drop-down menu to view all the available preset options.
Click on the Custom option to view the LUT you created. To apply the custom LUT, simply click on it to apply it to your footage.
Step 3. Save the Changes
If you’re pleased with the results, click on the OK button to save the changes.
Filmora will apply the custom LUT to the video in the Preview Monitor.
Step 4. Export the Footage
Finally, you can export the footage by clicking on the Export tab on the main menu and selecting one of the available options on the drop-down menu.
LUTs can make the color grading process easier and quicker. They can prove incredibly useful, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the color grading workflow or hard-pressed for time. They can also elevate your footage and make it look more cinematic.
While many video editing applications come with several pre-installed LUTs, try to create your custom LUTs using the steps above. Creating your LUTs from scratch may take you slightly more time than using pre-created LUTs, but creating the perfect LUT could save you time grading future projects.
When creating your own LUTs, try to create and apply several different LUTs to see which one is suitable for your footage. There usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all LUT option, so creating and testing out different LUTs is the best way to find the perfect custom LUT for your projects.