Embedded LUTs


Q I noticed that the ARRI AMIRA allows you to embed LUTs into ProRes files. With one project, I knew there wasn’t time to do a full grade, so I thought it might be appropriate to use an embedded LUT. They’re editing using Adobe Premiere. Good idea or not?
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A First, I think it should be stated that a lookup table (LUT) isn’t a replacement for taking your footage into a color-grading session. There’s more to setting a look than just remapping data.

As you mentioned, there are times when just setting a look on set is all that the project allows. But I like the idea of not “baking in a look” and shooting Log so you have more options later. However, shooting Log forces the editor to do something about the footage because it will look flat—low contrast with low saturation—if it isn’t “corrected.”

An embedded LUT isn’t the same as “baking in a look,” yet it doesn’t necessarily force the editor to apply a LUT. And your question is whether this is a good idea. I’d like to answer with a simple yes or no, but it’s really more a question of pros and cons.

First, let’s look at editing in Premiere using Log footage without embedded LUTs. When you import your Log footage into Premiere, the shots will look flat. You cut these shots into a timeline. Then you apply a LUT to each clip (using a Lumetri Effect and importing a LUT file that Premiere supports). Or, you can add an adjustment layer to the whole timeline and then apply the Lumetri Effect/LUT to that adjustment layer.

One of the minor annoyances of working with Log footage this way is that you only see the footage properly when you apply the LUT. If you scan through shots in a bin, it’s without the LUT applied. If you match frame to a shot in the timeline, the source clip will load into the source monitor without the LUT applied. This can be distracting since you’re probably used to viewing the footage in the timeline after a LUT has been applied.

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