Are you tired of using the same generic look-up tables (LUTs) for color grading in your videos? Do you feel like your creativity is limited by pre-packaged solutions that don’t quite achieve the desired results? Well, you’re in luck! In this color grading tutorial, we will explore the art of manual color grading and why you should avoid using LUTs. By understanding the fundamentals of color grading, you will gain complete control over the visual aesthetic of your footage and be able to create truly unique and immersive cinematic experiences. So let’s dive in and discover the transformative power of manual color grading!
Don’t Use a LUT! Color Grading Tutorial
Let’s talk about why you shouldn’t use LUTs. LUTs are an incredible tool – super powerful, fast, and easy to use. I use them all the time. But wait, why shouldn’t you be using LUTs? I’ll get to that.
We just put out our Sasquatch short film commercial and had a lot of fun with the color grading. I spent a ton of time playing around with different looks and learning about LUTs. LUTs are basically like color presets for video.
The Problem with Most LUTs
The problem with most LUTs is that they not only give you a color look, but they also bake in contrast and saturation at the same time. This is fine if you decide to use the LUT at full power, but most LUTs are made to be a little bit aggressive. When you try to dial it down, you’re not just changing the color look, but also the contrast and saturation. This can make your footage look bad pretty quickly.
But don’t worry, I’ll show you how to fix it. And if you don’t feel like fixing it yourself, we’ve got you covered. We just launched Human Video Code, a brand new digital tool for filmmakers like you to help tell your stories. We have a sale for 72 hours on everything, including our highly recommended audio presets, motion titles, transitions, and even the Cine Sodium LUTs. They’ve been incredibly popular because they’re very useful, and now we have the Cine Cannon LUTs built specifically for Canon cameras and Canon users.
Why Our LUTs are Different
The problem with most LUTs is that they’re made too strong and you’re supposed to dial it down to your liking. Unfortunately, this changes the contrast and saturation and doesn’t look very good. So, how do we fix this?
We need to separate the color grade into two different things: the contrast and saturation, and the color look. Let me show you how we do it with our Cine Sony and Cine Cannon LUTs.
Both our LUT packs have two different sets of LUTs – one to get your footage into Rec 709, which is a standard amount of contrast and saturation, and the other LUTs are for the actual look. These can be used in any program you prefer, whether it’s DaVinci, Premiere, or Final Cut.
For the Cine Sony LUTs, we made different versions of the Rec 709 LUTs based on the color and gamma settings you’re using. We also have normal and darker versions for each of those. This gets you to a nice baseline contrast and saturation quickly.
For Canon, we have four different versions of C-Log 2 and C-Log 3 Rec 709 LUTs. Again, these get you to a nice Rec 709 look fast and easily. Then, you add the second LUT, which is the look LUT, and we provide five different looks.
More Control and Possibilities
So, why do we do it like this? Speed, control, and more possibilities. We’re not just giving you five different looks; we’re actually giving you 20 different looks. You can choose the contrast and saturation you want – bright, dark, soft, or natural, and then select one of the look LUTs.
What’s even better is that you can easily dial in the look. Let’s say you want a darker teal and orange look in C-Log 2. You choose the C-Log 2 darker version as your starting point, then apply the teal and orange filmic look. If it’s too strong, you can dial it down without drastically changing the contrast and saturation. This is because the two LUTs are separate and work together.
Comparing this method with using a single LUT and dialing it down, you’ll notice a significant difference. When you just turn down a single LUT, it changes everything at once, resulting in a poor look. But with our method, the look still looks great, no matter how strong or weak you have the color look.
Of course, it’s still not perfect because color, contrast, and saturation are not independent of each other. But this method gives you much more control and makes the process faster, as you don’t have to go back and change the contrast and saturation separately.
In conclusion, LUTs are powerful tools, but they can cause problems when it comes to adjusting the look. By separating the contrast and saturation from the color look, you gain more control and options, and our Cine Sony and Cine Cannon LUTs make it easy to achieve professional-grade color grading. Check out our sale on Human Video Code and discover the endless possibilities for your filmmaking journey!
Frequently Asked Questions – Color Grading Tutorial
What is color grading?
Color grading refers to the process of altering or enhancing the color of a video or image to achieve a desired aesthetic or mood. It involves adjusting various color parameters such as hue, saturation, contrast, and brightness to create a visually appealing look.
Why shouldn’t I use a LUT (Lookup Table)?
A LUT is a pre-defined color grading preset that may not always be suitable for your specific footage or desired outcome. By avoiding LUTs, you have more control over the color grading process and can tailor it to match your creative vision.
How can I start color grading without using LUTs?
To begin color grading without relying on LUTs, you can use software tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, or Final Cut Pro. These programs provide a range of color grading options, including manipulating curves, adjusting color wheels, and using scopes to analyze color data.
What are the benefits of not using LUTs?
By not relying solely on LUTs, you have more flexibility and control over the grading process. You can experiment with different adjustments, apply custom color corrections based on the specific needs of your footage, and achieve a unique and personalized look.
Are there any disadvantages to not using LUTs?
The main disadvantage of not using LUTs is that it may require more time and effort to achieve the desired color grading result. Without a ready-made preset, you would need to manually tweak and adjust different parameters until you achieve the desired outcome. However, this extra effort often allows for greater creative freedom and customization.
Can I still achieve professional-looking color grades without LUTs?
Absolutely! Many professional colorists prefer not relying heavily on LUTs and instead utilize their expertise to manually grade the footage. With practice and understanding of color theory, you can achieve stunning and professional-grade color grades without using LUTs.
Where can I find tutorials on color grading without LUTs?
You can find numerous tutorials on color grading without LUTs on popular online platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, or dedicated websites. Additionally, many professional colorists and software providers offer educational materials and guides to help you learn and master the art of manual color grading.
Is color grading a complex process?
Color grading can be a complex process, particularly if you aim for intricate and detailed adjustments. However, with time, practice, and a good understanding of the tools available in your chosen software, you can develop the skills required to perform effective color grading.
I hope you find useful my article DON’T USE A LUT! Color Grading Tutorial, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.
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