Have you ever watched a high-end music video or commercial and noticed how perfect the colors look? Or how all the different scenes and colors seem to coincide somehow?
This is known as the art of ‘color grading’ or ‘color correction’. Color grading is a whole art form in itself, but breaking it down to something a bit more comprehend-able, today we’re going to be talking about Video LUTs, or look-up tables. LUTs are color grading tools that will help you create color tones specifically for certain looks so that you can grade your footage much faster (just like presets for photos)! In today’s quick tutorial, we’re going to be looking at how to create your very own video LUTs so that you can start grading your next big project with ease!
Getting Started with Making Your Own LUTs
Now, looking at video footage and seeing how nice something looks can be intimidating, but I promise, once you start playing around with your footage and the colors, you’ll be quite alright. Besides, with color, there is no right answer. Color grading is all preference based. Obviously if you are going for a western look and you color grade it for more of a blue tone, then you’re not going to emit the right feeling with the color tones, but it’s all about preference and choice. Whatever you or your team decides, you can create, it all just depends on if the colors make the final cut look better and more realistic.
Let’s get started by opening Adobe Premiere Pro and importing some footage.
Once you’ve imported your footage, I always recommend watching the raw clip once through (or at least clips of the scenes you’ll be color grading) so you can see what you don’t like about the existing colors – are the skin color tones realistic? could the sky or water be colored differently to create a different emotion?
When you’re thinking about your color grade and you’re asking yourself these questions, be sure to think about your final project from the consumer’s (viewer) perspective. If you were sitting on your couch, watching this scene on TV, what would make it feel real? These are the things that make a good colorist – noticing those little details that will change the way a viewer will feel about something.
Now that you’ve thought about the colors in your raw footage, and have started thinking about the colors you’d like to add/pull back for your final color grade, let’s go ahead and hop into the ‘Color’ tab so we can get down to the nitty-gritty.
How to Make Your Own Video LUTs
Looking at the Coloring panel, you can see there are quite a few tabs located on the right side of the screen with tons of different adjustment options and random buttons. Yes, if you haven’t seen this before, it’s probably a bit daunting, but trust me – it’s not all that scary. Once you find the specific tools that you’ll be using the most, you will be able to start grading your footage and creating your own video LUTs in no time.
Personally, I always start with the basic corrections like exposure and shadows/highlights to get a good base started. Some people like to start in the curves tool; it doesn’t really matter where you start, just as long as you get a good base to color grade.
Next up, depending on what kind of style I’m looking for I’ll usually play around with vibrance and saturation. For this specific example, I wanted more of a warm look so I went ahead and boosted the vibrance and saturation, and also bumped the temperature up a bit.
Sometimes I’ll mess around with the sharpening and faded film fx in the Creative tab, but this tab usually isn’t the end all, be all. I find that overlaying film grain usually works better than using the faded film effect.
Now is when I start to play with the colors. Open up the curves panel. For me, I tend to start with the overall curves by bumping highlights and adjusting the bottom left corner to my liking. After that, depending on which color tone i’m looking for, I’ll usually go into the red, green, or blue curves panels and play around. For this edit, I’m looking for a warm red-tone.
After playing around with the curves it’s really time to start color grading. Open up the Color Wheels & Match panel and start by playing around so you can get a feel for how they work. After it makes a little more sense you’ll be able to figure out how to manipulate the shadows/highlights in a way where you can make them each a certain color that you’re looking for.
I usually finish my color grading in the Color Wheels panel so I don’t overdo it and then if I want to add any other overlays I’ll go from there!
Download this FREE Warm Tone Music Video LUT below:
Try out the warm tone LUT that I created while making this tutorial!
Check out our full video on How to Make Your Own Video LUTs to see more on how I blended the colors together to create this warm tone LUT.