If you’re not using LUTs when you edit, you’re missing out, big time. Oh, what’s that? You don’t know what LUTs are? No problem, we’re here to break apart the myths and teach you what LUTs are, how to use them, and even give you some free ones so you can start working right away. So keep reading and all will become clear, and remember to download your free LUTs at the bottom of the article!
Part 1: What is a LUT?
A LUT is a Look-Up Table. It’s basically a shortcut you can apply to your footage to quickly color grade it. In practical terms, it’s a small file you can download and import into Premiere Pro, and drag it onto your footage like an effect. It will apply a certain look to your footage, acting like a drag-and-drop color grade. Using LUTs can help you work faster and more efficiently, and makes your footage look great.
There are a few different types of LUTs you can choose from and work with. Let’s break them down here.
1D – or one-dimensional LUTs – are controlled by one value setting, and usually end in the file extension .lut. They tend to constitute a gamma curve preset and although they’re useful they don’t really give you a huge amount of control over your color.
3D LUTs give you control over three values: hue, saturation, and brightness. This gives you much more to play within the image and ends with the .cube extension.
A Viewing LUT is a LUT that you can place over raw footage during playback on a video shoot. This makes the image in the monitor look much better and gives you a clearer idea of what you are filming.
Calibration LUTs correct the inaccuracies in a display. If your screen is not calibrated correctly or is generally quite limited, this LUT gives you the best indication of what color the image genuinely looks like. These are super important when it comes to grading, because if a display is not showing an image correctly then it’s likely to have a negative effect on everything you grade.
But why use LUTs in the first place? Well, they’re much faster than grading every shot by scratch. Sometimes projects simply don’t give you the advantage of time to spend in the grading suite. If you’re looking for a specific look or feel to your footage, it’s much faster to drag a LUT onto it than to refine every minor detail by hand.
Part 2: Learn How to Use and Apply LUTs
So – you’re sold on LUTs. What’s next? How do you actually use them?
The first step comes before you edit anything. To make the most use out of LUTs, you’ll want to shoot your footage in S-log. This is a camera profile that shoots with as wide a tonal profile as possible. This gives you the most options for color in the edit, so you can fine-tune the color detail to create the effect you’re looking for.
If you’re working with non-linear editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, LUTs are super easy to use.
- Download your favorite LUTs. You can do that at the end of this article.
- Open up Premiere and go to the Color panel.
- Go to Creative then click the dropdown menu under Look, and select Browse.
- Select the .lut or .cube file you have chosen and downloaded.
- Use the Intensity slider to change how much the LUT affects your footage.
You’ll find it’s a pretty similar process in other NLE software like DaVinci Resolve. To learn more, check out our recent tutorial article.
But applying the LUTs to your footage is only half the challenge. The real work comes from knowing when to use them. This is much more of a subtle, subjective art and it’s what turns good videos (and filmmakers) into great ones.
A cinematic feel can be achieved by applying a 35mm film LUT over a digital video to make the image feel older, more worn, with a warmer feeling as if it had been shot on film. Or you can adjust the hue and saturation of an image to alter the emotional reaction of the audience.
Color can be used to entirely change the mood of a scene. While color correction involves adjusting any colors that didn’t quite come out properly when shooting, color grading is a more artistic process that involves establishing a tone or atmosphere. Cinematic color grading will not just make your footage stand out, but has the potential to entirely change the emotion of a scene.
Consider some of your favorite movies. Notice how thrillers and sci-fi movies tend to use very cool colors with strong contrast, whereas comedies use much warmer, more saturated colors. For a horror movie, you might elect to adopt a sickly green hue. For a drama, a more desaturated, washed-out look might be best to convey a serious tone.
Even within a single scene movie directors often use color as a subtle indication of story or emotion. Remember how in The Matrix any scene that takes place inside the simulation has a green tinge, and anything in the real world is pushed towards blue?
The psychology of color is a hugely important and often overlooked aspect of filmmaking. When grading, pick, and choose LUTs which help the footage subtly reflect what is happening on screen in the story. Even if you’re making a corporate video, these choices can have a huge impact on elevating the quality.
There are plenty of LUTs out there to choose from, and it’s up to you which one you use based on the effect you want to have on your audience.
Part 3: Download these Free & Premium LUTs Templates
So now you’ve learned more about what LUTs are and how to use them, try downloading these LUTs from Motion Array to use in your own projects.
1. Free LUTs for Premiere
These cool and edgy looks will give your footage a premium, cinematic feel without the need to spend days tweaking every setting yourself. Simply drag it onto your color corrected footage and walk away with a stylish atmosphere to your film. Five LUTs to choose from, all completely free with a Motion Array subscription.
2. Free LUTs for Premiere Pro
Five more free LUTs for those Premiere Pro users out there. Choose from five distinct styles depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your video: from color washes to a faded feel. Work within Lumetri Color in Premiere to refine the look you want.
3. Modern LUTS
Here are some fresh, modern LUTs to give your films a cool, trendy look. These downloadable LUTs are .cube files which will give you increased flexibility when grading. Use them in Premiere Pro, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X, and many others.
4. Film Look LUTs
This pack contains a whopping 12 presets to choose from, all designed to give your footage a cinematic feel. Perfect for quality short films and documentaries that need an elevated, ‘filmic’ look. These .cube files will give you plenty of options to use in your favorite editing software.
5. Cinematic LUTs
These LUTs are jam-packed full of rich colors and incredible cinematic effects, perfect for elevating your short films and commercials. The .cube files available to download will give you full control over your image and the ability to create amazing footage.
If you’re working in post-production, LUTs are a powerful time-saving tool to get to grips with. A simple code lets you transform your Log footage into something immediately more professional and presentable. Simply download your favorites, install them in Premiere Pro and drop them onto your footage. Use LUTs in creative ways to alter the tone and atmosphere of your films, without having to spend hours grading each individual clip.