Making Custom LUT’s in Photoshop CC

By Keith Mullin, Rental Manager

It was brought to my attention at our last Sony Camcorder User’s Group meeting that it is possible to export LUT’s directly from Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.  When I heard this I got excited.  I am much more proficient with Photoshop than DaVinci Resolve, so being able to use the tools in Photoshop to create custom LUT’s for our cameras has my mind swirling with possibilities.  For example, you could create a custom monitoring LUT with the specific stylized look you want your final product to have.  Or you could create some LUT’s for white balance points between the three presets offered in CineEI mode on the Sony FS7, F5 and F55.  Or you can create LUT’s for matching one camera to another, particularly between manufacturers.  You can also use these LUT’s in your post software.

How it works.

First thing you do is open up a still frame from your footage in Photoshop.  Make sure that the image is set as the Background and not a layer.  If you need to make a layer into a background you go to the menu bar at the top; Layer->New->Background from Layer.

Background from layer

Next you grade your image using adjustment layers.  Remember order matters.  I like to start with Curves to set my white balance if I have good white, grey, and black reference points.  If you don’t have good reference points you could use a Color Balance adjustment last instead of doing Curves.  The next adjustment I make is Levels to set white and black points.  Lastly I do Hue/Saturation to make the colors pop.  This will give you a basic grade.  After that you can add creative layers to give your LUT a specific style if you want.  You can also create LUT’s for intentionally over exposing your footage by using an Exposure layer.  If you are going to do so I would make it your first adjustment if you are working from an over exposed sample and the last adjustment if you are working with a regularly exposed sample.

Here are two sample layer stacks.

Layer stacks

And here is an example that I made using over exposed footage from our F55.

Steps in creating a custom LUT

Creating the LUT.

Once you have your shot looking awesome it is time to get a LUT out to use in your editing software or camera.  To do this you go up to the menu bar; File->Export->Color Lookup Tables.  A new window will pop up giving you options for exporting your LUT.

Exporting LUTs

The Description box is metadata and not the actual name you will be giving your LUT.  The same goes for Copyright.  Check the box for using lower case file extensions.  Our F55 wouldn’t read any files with upper case file extensions.  The next setting is for Grid Points, which as far as I have been able to tell is how many points there will be on each side of the “cube” of the LUT (it’s all very technical and confusing to get into), common settings would be 17, 33, and 65.  17 and 33 would be useful for camera/monitoring LUT’s while 65 would be used for grading in post.  I know for certain that you must set the grid to 33 for the LUT to work in Sony cameras.  I have not tried 17, but the default 32 did not register in the F55.  Lastly I unchecked all of the formats except for CUBE, which is the catch all format that works with most cameras and software.  Click OK and name your LUT and you are done.

I was able to use LUT’s generated this way on our F55 and in Final Cut Pro X and they looked great.

One last note, for LUT’s to work in the FS7 and F5/55 the names need to contain underscores in place of spaces.  I also like to use short names so that when you are loading them from the SD card in the camera you can see the full name and know what you are picking.


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