Color Correcting Using LUTs

How to Color Correct Using LUTs (By Preparing Your Images)

November 23, 2013

If you're confused on how to color correct using LUTs, this video (one in a series) shows several different approaches for you to try.

How to Color Correct Using LUTs

Much to the disappointment of novice colorists and filmmakers… color correcting using LUTs (Look-Up Tables) are not a Fire-and-Forget shortcut to expanding out your Log- or RAW- recorded images.

As we’ve discussed in the rest of this series on LUTs, a LUT is based on a series of assumptions about where the middle of the exposure range of your image resides. It also assumes the placement of your deepest shadows and brightest highlights. If your source footage varies off these assumptions you get less-than-ideal (and often ugly) results.

Four Methods, Slightly Different Results

In this Insight I’m going to explore a combination of techniques you can use to prepare your image before applying a LUT. The end results will be subtly different but may often give you substantially different ‘feels’ to how the image reacts the rest of your grading ‘inputs’.

My goal isn’t to show you the One Perfect Method. My goal IS to give you some different ideas on techniques to explore on your own, applied to different projects. Over time, you’ll develop an affinity for one or two of these techniques which may complement your grading style. And over longer periods of time, you’ll work your way through all of these – exploring the subtle differences that help you achieve the results your clients are reaching for.

In this Insight we’ll be exploring the following tools:

  • Lift, Gamma, Gain primary color wheels
  • Contrast and Pivot sliders
  • Offset wheel
  • Various combinations of all three of these tools.

Got Questions?
That’s why we’ve got the comments enabled… feel free to ask questions. Or share any thoughts that this Insight inspires!


– patrick

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Homepage Forums How to Color Correct Using LUTs (By Preparing Your Images)

  • Tom Parish

    Patrick this was most helpful. “Now” I see why I was struggling with a recent long form narrative shot in Canon Clog. It was like trying to tame a beast at times. You’ve organized an approach to understanding this topic in a way that I can hang my current understanding on it and grow it. Love these four approaches. This will help reduce a lot of guesswork and make using LUTS a more confident process.
    Thank you.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I’m blushing! 🙂 Thanks. You just made my day. You may notice this one is part of a larger series (at the top of the post are links to the rest of the articles in this series in the order they should be watched)… you may find it helpful to watch through the series to refresh yourself on my overall attitude and approach to LUTs.

  • Tom Parish

    Yes I did review the entire series – this morning in fact. It was like a bonus day with the TaoofColor. I periodically check MixingLight for new posts and when I saw all of these I was rather delighted. Your approach seems more systematic and expanded then I remember from past conversations and tutorials. But then maybe I’m just ready for a deeper level of details on the topic so I’m listening more carefully now lol. Anyway, thank you. You toss in another useful LUT nugget of knowledge on the audio podcast answer to my question about the best way(s) for a colorist to collaborate with VFX folks – what’s the best workflow.

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