LUT stands for Look Up Table. Look up tables are generally used to adjust image values between your source image and the intended results – temporarily calibrating a display or monitor for more accurate creative work, adjusting for a particular output medium’s unique characteristics, or to add grading and creative effects to the image or footage.

  • Color Calibration If working on a project intended to go out to film, for example, one may wish to apply a specific look up table to footage or imagery during post-production to calibrate their local display to the shifts in the image’s values that film would impose, to accurately be able to apply secondary color grading and effects with a preview that’s accurate to the intended output medium. That LUT can then be removed from the equation when sending the project for output with confidence that the grading and creative effects will look as expected in the final print.
  • Color Correction LUTs can also be used to shift final output to the correct range for a particular type of output after post-production. When working in the digital domain and applying creative effects, often the final output isn’t fully determined – film, tape, compressed for online streaming/viewing – and a LUT can be applied after post to adjust the output for the particular medium required. This is very common when having to produce output for a different output medium than originally intended, or when the types of output needed aren’t fully determined when producing your imagery or footage.
  • Color Grading LUTs are also often used as presets for particular effects for reuse – film styles and looks, creative grading effects, and such- across a range of footage and images.  An example of how LUTs can be used for creative effect can be seen in the following course excerpt demonstrating Photoshop’s Color Lookup feature by product manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes.

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