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10 Free LUTs

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about presets, what they are, and how to use them. For instance, we recently posted an article on creating and using color presets in After Effects.

Today, we are going to talk about LUTs. What do LUT’s have to do with presets? Not a lot. Actually, they are a bit similar to a preset, but whereas a preset is set up specifically for one program, a LUT is a more generic set of data that can be loaded in lots of different programs.

So, what is a LUT? Well, first off, LUT is an acronym. It doesn’t stand for Large Underwater Trout, and it doesn’t stand for Legendary Umbrella Tent. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s explain what it really means.

LUT is an acronym for Look Up Table. A look up table is essentially a bunch of math that your color correction or editing application can output representing what color changes or grading you have done to a piece of video.

A LUT is different from a preset in that it doesn’t house all of the controls and software settings from a certain piece of software. Instead it is simply the data that the program used when changing the footage from the original to the final output.

For a little more explanation on this, and some cute animated cats, take a look at this short video created by Ground Control.

Okay, so why use a preset when you can use a LUT? Or why use a LUT when you can use a preset? Let’s explore a little further.

Let’s say you brought some footage into After Effects, then you applied some color correction to it. Great. Now you can save those color effects as a preset and use them whenever you want…….as long as you are in After Effects. What if you are working in Premiere on your next project and you want that same color effect? This is where a preset finds its limitations.

If you have the data from the After Effects color setup saved as a LUT, you can import it into Premiere and load it on your footage. LUTs travel nicely. They don’t care much where you use them. Okay, you can’t load a LUT into every program, but major applications like Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Photoshop will import LUTs.

Then, let’s just use LUTs all the time right? Why bother with presets that are locked into a program? Well, because LUTs are not customizable on their own. You can load a LUT on your footage, and then add more color correction within the program you are using, but they don’t come with controls built in.

In this regard, you may find it useful to have color presets in your favorite programs where you can tweak the controls as you like.

There is room for both presets and LUTs in your color correction workflow, but it’s just a matter of deciding when to use what.

A LUT can be very useful as a base for further color correction if there is a certain look you are trying to achieve and you want a head start. They are also great if you jump around from program to program a lot.

And with this in mind, we wanted to give you something else for free! We hope that the free AE color presets we gave away are useful to many of you, but we have also converted 10 of those presets into LUTs that you can use anywhere.

Take them for a spin and let us know what you think. Do you prefer presets or LUTs? Let us know in the comments below.


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