Watch our exclusive step-by-step video that explains how Look Up Tables (LUTs) can be applied to your footage for colour grading and creative purposes…

In one of The Video Mode’s recent tuition videos we explained what Look Up Tables (aka LUTs) are and now we’re using a ‘case study’ to reveal how LUTs can be applied to video footage. Basically a LUT holds a set of numbers that are looked up by the software or hardware you’re using to change the colours of an image. Colour LUTs can bring footage to life by changing saturations, making colours ‘pop’, increasing contrast, changing the input colours completely or even adding a creative cinematic ‘look’ or style. But how do you apply them to your footage?

Applying LUTs to grade footage
We reveal how to apply LUTs in Premiere Pro CC 2016 in order to grade your footage as it’s one of the most universal and user-friendly packages in terms of the principles of adding LUTs to your footage…

In our example we’ve taken two clips shot in log, then applied a new Adjustment Layer by clicking ‘Add Adjustment Layer’ and dragged that over on to the timeline above the two clips. Next, we clicked to highlight the Adjustment Layer and in the ‘Effects’ panel selected ‘Lumetri Col'(our) and dragged that on top of the Adjustment Layer; it then applies that to the Effects panel of that Adjustment Layer.

Then we clicked on the ‘Lumetri Col'(our) options and selected ‘Basic Colour Correction’; then you’ll see a drop down box with ‘Input LUT’ and there we selected a D-Log LUT as the original footage was shot in log. In this case we selected a log to Rec.709 LUT to make the footage like look like it did when it was shot, with the contrast back as it was.

Selecting a creative LUT
For a more creative approach we then went down to the ‘Creative’ option within the ‘Effects’ panel and selected a second LUT to apply a ‘look’ or a grade to the footage. In the case we selected a sort of orange and teal LUT that gives a kind of ‘Hollywood look’ to footage. Such a look can be a bit bizarre and over-saturated so within the Effects panel you can go in and adjust some of the variables, such as dropping down the saturation to avoid orange skin tones.

Then from the ‘Basic Correction’ drop down box you can adjust variables such as blacks, shadows, whites and highlights – adjustments such as these can all be done by your own judgement as to how you shot your footage and how you want to apply any LUT with a creative look.

Adding clips and applying the same LUT
If you want to add any more footage to your timeline all you have to do is drag the clip over into the sequence and then extend the Adjustment Layer over the top of that and it will apply the same LUT or LUTs you have on your other footage. If some of the variables, such as darkness, look different in any added clip you can click on the ‘Colour’ panel and adjust highlights and shadows of that clip. Note that it’s not the Adjustment Layer but the clip you’re altering here. Then you can compare the clip or clips running before it to check if it flows in terms of colour matching.

Where can LUTs be used?
Always remember that applying LUTs can be done in any programme that has the ability to grade your footage. The most popular are Adobe Premiere Pro, Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut and the same principles work for applying LUTs as in the Premier Pro CC example used in the video at the top of this page. As LUTs are so universal they are often a better option when moving between software, instead of saving presets within that programme.

Find out more…
Just in case this is the first time you’ve come across the use of LUTs and you missed our short introductory video ‘What is a LUT?’, why not watch it now to find out more? To view it just click here.