From Amateur To Pro In Three Minutes Or Less: Film-Making Luts And Why You Need Them
LUTs, for those that do not know what they are, are Look Up Tables. This sounds like a strange name to give film special effects, but considering that the first thing you do is look up the color tables, it makes sense. You can transform virtually any amateur movie you make into something that looks like it was produced by Hollywood.
This includes lighting effects, gray scale washouts with specific color highlights (think Sin City), and a whole lot more. The following is just a sample of what you can do with this kind of software. Included are reasons why you need LUTs if you want your films, and you as a cinematographer and director, to be taken seriously.
Most amateur films are shot with what light the filmmakers have on hand or can create without the professional lighting equipment. Your films may have real substance, but when you view them, they seem flat somehow. That is usually the fault of the lighting and color schemes. Lighting and color play a very big part in creating mood, interest, and tone in every scene.
The LUTs you use can flood your movies with color (if you want them to be less flat in terms of color), creating more meaningful scenes and backdrops for your actors/actresses. Then the scenes of fear, anger, distress, love, passion, and sorrow are reflected in your color palatte. When your color grading LUTs choices are perfect, you can really tell a difference after your editing process is complete.
If you were painting a canvas, and you wanted glowing light or ethereal light, you can create those effects with a paintbrush and paint. When you are filming a movie, your actors and actresses are pretending to see such light, or pretending to exude such light. These almost supernatural light effects have to be applied in the editing stages, unless you can afford a green screen and CGI technology for your amateur films.
The LUTs used to create light are glowing tints of color. You apply these with the stroke of a stylus in editing. The best part is that you can see these effects almost immediately.
Changing Light to Dark and Costume Color Choices
Amateur filmmakers shoot with what they have. You have undoubtedly made a film where you wished there were darker, more brooding scenes, but the weather did not cooperate (too much sun!). You may also have costume budgets on a shoestring, which means that your leading man is wearing a baby blue t-shirt instead of royal blue. The good news is, LUTs can change all of that with just a few look-ups and a few clicks.