While it’s best to bring color to your images manually, LUTs speed things up. Here’s how I customize LUTs to get the best of both worlds in a pinch.
Years ago, I wrote an article about using in-camera picture profiles in your workflow. I mentioned that LUTs should be the next thing a photo and video shooter understands. Today however, LUTs are much more common. As a result, I thought I’d break down some tools to help you customize your look.
3D LUT Creator
Obvious choice, this application is a precise tool for professionals. 3D LUT Creator is the tool I turn to when I need to remove redness from someone’s face without affecting their red jacket. Although I often use it to complement Premiere Pro’s Lumetri system, it works perfectly with Photoshop and Lightroom. It starts at $99 and goes all the way up to $250 for all the bells and whistles. I would recommend the pro version if you are looking to do more than small edits.
3D LUT Creator really helped me on set. If a client doesn’t like what they see on the monitor, I can quickly generate a new LUT based on the original LUT. For example, saturating a background without affecting skin tones.
Much like 3D LUT Creator, Resolve is a very handy tool to have on set. Of course, the filing capabilities are at the top of the industry. However, its speed and ability to export LUTs for monitors make it particularly useful for processing LUTs. The free version will only work with 8-bit footage, but it’s still free, so grab what you can get.
Look Designer 2
Colorlab has bundled its “Look Designer” from its main tool, and it allows users to get a quick note from video footage. Previously it was only available on DaVinci Resolve, but now Adobe Premiere Pro has gotten the hookup.
It is basically a movie emulation tool. I find it achieves a nicer result than most plugins of its type, and it brings obvious tools like “lift” into Premiere Pro without needing to use Curves. Users can export a LUT when they are satisfied with the rating. In particular, I like knowing that I can generally get a solid picture from almost any camera thrown at me, as they can handle different types of log footage. It also doesn’t have a single Rec.709 conversion, which is good. The price for a perpetual license is $490, or $24 per month.
I generally don’t recommend Lutify to people. Personally, I think users would be better off maintaining their own LUT library without a subscription. Although I don’t use it every day, I’ve tried it and know it’s a powerful tool worth mentioning.
Lutify’s integrations are deep, and sometimes it’s the only way to integrate LUTs into certain workflows. For example, it’s an elegant way to import LUTs into Capture One, even though Capture One doesn’t necessarily support it. 3D LUT Creator can also be used to create custom ICC profiles for Capture One, so check first what Lutify does for your workflow.
IWLTBAP LUT generator
This one is a bit more obscure and older, but it can help beginners understand what a LUT actually is. Basically, a user generates an HALD image, affects that image as desired, and feeds the affected HALD back into the LUT generator. Super simple stuff.
This means you can generate a LUT from any software. If you still had a working copy, you might even get a LUT from Apple’s Aperture. IWLTBAP’s LUT generator isn’t always the most convenient tool, but it works in a pinch. It’s a nice backup when Photoshop’s built-in LUT generator is working.
Adobe Creative Cloud/Frame.io
I don’t always work on my own machine, so I often want quick access to my LUTs and tools. Therefore, I keep everything in a Creative Cloud storage folder. If I can’t log in on the machine, I can use the browser to grab things. I also uploaded everything to a Frame folder, since I often log into my own account anyway. This can be a huge time saver when I’m just looking for a quick conversion LUT for log footage, or even if I need to spruce up stills as quickly as possible.
Do you have any other suggestions? Please let us know in the comments.