How To Import & Use LUTs In Premiere Pro - I'll Teach You!

Mastering the use of LUTs in Adobe Premiere Pro is crucial for efficient and creative color grading. By carefully organizing your LUT files and familiarizing yourself with the Lumetri Color Panel, you can seamlessly apply and fine-tune color profiles, offering both technical and creative solutions to elevate your footage.

October 19, 2023
How To Import & Use LUTs In Premiere Pro - I'll Teach You!
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How to Add LUTs in Premiere Pro

One of the most pivotal assets in your video editing toolkit is the Look-Up Table, commonly known as the LUT.

LUTs are integral to color grading in Adobe Premiere Pro, serving as pre-configured templates that modify the color information in your footage. Whether you're looking to emulate the look of a specific film stock or aiming for a precise color balance, LUTs can expedite the process, ensuring consistent and compelling results.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the following key areas:

  • The initial setup: How and where to organize your LUT files for easy access within Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • Application Basics: Navigating through Adobe Premiere Pro to activate the Lumetri Color Panel and select your desired footage.
  • LUT Application: Step-by-step instructions to apply your chosen LUT and the nuances between 'Creative' and 'Technical' LUT categories.
  • Refinement: Adjusting the intensity of the LUT for fine-tuned results, along with quick methods to add LUTs when you're pressed for time.

Initial Setup: Organizing .Cube LUT Files on Your Computer

Mac Users:

  1. Creating Necessary Folders: Navigate to /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common/LUTs/. If you don't find 'Creative' and 'Technical' folders, create them.
  2. Alternate Method: Some users opt to manage LUTs through third-party software to centralize assets, but that's not essential.

Windows Users:

  1. Creating Necessary Folders: Go to C:\Program Files\Adobe\Common\LUTs\. Again, if the folders 'Creative' and 'Technical' don't exist, it's your cue to make them.
  2. Alternate Method: For Windows, creating a shortcut to the LUTs folder on the desktop can accelerate future access.

Frankly, managing your LUTs efficiently from the start can save you time down the line. Copy your LUT files (.cube format) into these folders—'Creative' for artistic effects and 'Technical' for utility tasks like color space conversion.

Getting Started in Adobe Premiere Pro

Step 1: Select Your Footage

  • What to Do: Open Adobe Premiere Pro and select the clip you wish to color grade.

If you want to affect multiple clips, consider using an adjustment layer. Drag and drop it over your clips in the timeline and apply the LUT to this layer.

Step 2: Activate Lumetri Color Panel

  • What to Do: Go to the 'Window' menu and select 'Lumetri Color' to activate the color grading panel.

For a more direct route, you can search for 'Lumetri Color' in the Effects Panel and drag it onto your selected clip or adjustment layer.

If Premiere Pro doesn't let you add an adjustment layer in the first place, try this.

Mind you, the Lumetri Color panel offers a plethora of tools beyond LUTs, like basic corrections, curves, and color wheels.

Applying LUTs in Adobe Premiere Pro

Step 3: Locate Your LUT in Lumetri Color Panel

  • What to Do: Within the Lumetri panel, click on the 'Creative' tab. You'll find a 'Look' dropdown list—select your desired LUT from this list. Instead of browsing, you can also click on the folder icon next to the 'Look' dropdown to navigate directly to your saved LUT files and select one.

Step 4: Technical LUTs—The Special Case

  • What to Do: If you have LUTs in the 'Technical' folder, these will show up in the 'Basic Correction' tab under the 'Input LUT' dropdown list.

If your LUT aims to convert between color spaces (like S-Log2 to Rec. 709), the 'Technical' LUT is your go-to.

Step 5: Refining the Look—Adjusting Intensity

  • What to Do: Beneath the 'Look' dropdown, you'll find an 'Intensity' slider. Use this to dial the strength of your LUT up or down, usually measured in percentages.
  • Alternate Method: If you want finer control, consider using keyframes to vary the LUT's intensity over time.

Believe me, understanding how to modulate the strength of a LUT can greatly expand your creative range. You may want to start with a moderate setting, like 60%, and then adjust to taste.

Quick Application of LUTs

Step 6: Quick-Add Method

  • What to Do: If you just want to add one LUT quickly, go to the 'Creative' tab, click on 'Browse' near the 'Look' dropdown, locate the .cube file, and click 'Open.'

Or, Drag and drop the .cube file directly into the Lumetri panel. This method bypasses the need to browse through folders but works best if the .cube file is readily accessible, say, on your desktop.

What Is .CUBE in Premiere Pro?

CUBE files essentially function as Look-Up Tables.

The core principle is surprisingly straightforward: each LUT contains a fixed grid of RGB color values (often 17x17x17 or 33x33x33), and this grid translates the original colors to different target colors. By the way, this is achieved through a process called interpolation, which fills in the gaps between known points in the grid to map any given color accurately.

The versatility of CUBE files is genuinely remarkable. For instance, you can apply these LUTs at various points in your post-production pipeline—be it on a single clip, a sequence, or even as an adjustment layer affecting multiple tracks. What's crucial to note is that LUTs can be "destructive" if applied incorrectly. In other words, once applied to the original footage, reverting to the pre-LUT stage could result in a loss of data if not managed carefully. No doubt, proper version control is a must.

Mind you, the utility of CUBE files extends beyond mere aesthetic adjustments. They're also employed for technical corrections, like calibrating your monitor or converting log footage to Rec. 709. Frankly, understanding these functionalities demands a thorough understanding of color spaces, transfer functions, and chromaticity—a whole universe of highly specialized knowledge.

Lot's of beginners ask whether .cube files can be used in Adobe Premiere Pro and the answer is yes. In fact, many LUTs are in .cube format.