Difference between LUT and Color Grading in Video Editing

AAFT India
3 min readJun 20, 2023

Introduction

When it comes to video editing, achieving the desired visual aesthetic is crucial. Two commonly used techniques for enhancing and manipulating colors in videos are LUT (Look-Up Table) and color grading. While both LUT and color grading serve the purpose of color correction and enhancing the overall visual appeal of a video, they differ in their approach and functionality. Let’s explore the difference between LUT and color grading in video editing. How editors use LUTs and the technique of color grading can be learned by enrolling in a film editing course.

What is LUT?

LUT, or Look-Up Table, is a predefined mathematical formula that transforms the color and tonality of an image or video. It acts as a shortcut to apply specific color adjustments and create a desired look or mood. LUTs are typically created using professional color grading software and can be applied directly to a video clip or an entire sequence. They provide instant changes to the overall color, contrast, and saturation levels, allowing editors to achieve a specific visual style without much manual adjustment. A deep understanding of saturation levels, contrast, and other technical aspects are very important to know about, which is why aspirants are actively enrolling themselves in video editing courses to understand these topics deeply.

What is Color Grading?

On the other hand, color grading is a more intricate and detailed process of manipulating colors and tones in a video. It involves making manual adjustments to individual color channels, highlights, shadows, saturation, and other aspects of the video image. Color grading allows editors to have more control and flexibility in fine-tuning the look of the video to match their artistic vision. It requires a keen eye for color and an understanding of color theory to create a balanced and visually appealing result.

Differences Between LUT and Color Grading

1.) One significant difference between LUT and color grading is the level of customization they offer. LUTs provide a quick and predefined color transformation, while color grading allows editors to have a more nuanced and personalized control over the video’s color palette. Color grading allows for adjustments to be made on a shot-by-shot basis, ensuring consistency and coherence throughout the entire video.

2.) Another distinction lies in the workflow and application. LUTs are often used as a starting point or as a creative reference in the color grading process. They can be applied to footage to quickly establish a desired look and then further refined through manual color grading techniques. Color grading, on the other hand, involves working with color grading tools and software to manipulate various parameters and achieve the desired look from scratch.

3.) It is important to note that while LUTs offer convenience and can be a valuable tool in video editing, they may not always be a one-size-fits-all solution. Different footage may require specific adjustments and fine-tuning that cannot be achieved solely through LUTs. In such cases, color grading becomes essential to bring out the best in the video and ensure that the colors are precisely tailored to fit the intended mood and narrative.

Conclusion

In conclusion, LUT and color grading are both techniques used in video editing to enhance the colors and overall visual aesthetics of a video. LUTs provide predefined color transformations that can be applied instantly, offering a quick way to achieve a specific look. On the other hand, color grading offers a more detailed and personalized approach, allowing editors to make manual adjustments and fine-tune the colors to match their creative vision. Both techniques have their place in video editing, and understanding the difference between LUT and color grading can help editors choose the right approach to achieve the desired results. Getting a certificate in video editing is not necessarily important for everyone, but it is a trend among creative minds.

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AAFT India

With over 30+ years of experience in the field of media and arts education, AAFT has established itself as a leader in the industry.