Using Export LUT
(Warning for very large LUT sizes)
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PSB Quick Look
Export LUT generates 3D color lookup tables from Lightroom develop presets or the develop settings of a photo. These LUTs can then be used in other applications to apply the look of the preset to videos or photos. The LUTs are created in the IRIDAS/Adobe .cube format.
Try it for free (limited to cubes of size 4x4x4 and smaller).
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Export LUT requires Lightroom 5.7 or later, and on Mac, OS X 10.8 or later (any version of Windows is OK).
The free trial is limited to exporting cubes of size 4x4x4—to export larger cubes, you’ll need to buy a license.Buy a License
Invoke File > Plug-in Extras > Export LUT and then:
The LUTs will have filenames of the form preset-colorprofile-gridpoints.cube.Preview LUT
The best way to judge a LUT is to apply it to your videos or images, of course. But you can approximate the LUT’s look within Lightroom using the Preview LUT command. It simply applies the chosen presets to the selected images, minus the develop settings that LUTs can’t represent.
To use Preview LUT, first import and select one or more images that are representative of the videos or photos to which you’ll be applying the LUT. It’s best to use TIFFs or JPEGs rather than raws, since presets can look differently applied to raws. Then invoke File > Plug-in Extras > Preview LUT and choose one or more develop presets.
Preview LUT will then make a virtual copy for each selected image and preset, which you may then examine and compare.The Export LUT Collection Set
The Export LUT collection set contains two collections:
OK to Delete: Export LUT needs to create and import temporary images to build LUTs. The plugin deletes these from disk, but unfortunately Lightroom doesn’t allow plugins to delete images from catalogs. So you can clean up these images yourself by selecting all the images in this collection and typing Alt-Delete (Windows) or Option-Delete (Mac).
Preset Previews: Every virtual copy created by the Preview LUT command is placed in this collection, making it easy to find and delete. To delete them from your catalog, just select them and do Alt-Delete (Windows) or Option-Delete (Mac).Assign Color Profile
Use the Assign Color Profile command to assign a color profile to one or more photos. Select the photos and do File > Plug-in Extras > Assign Color Profile. You'll be shown the currently assigned profile (if any) and a drop-down of color profiles installed on your computer. See Importing Frames for when to use this command.Limitations of LUTs
Many Lightroom develop settings cannot be represented accurately by LUTs, including Shadows, Highlights, Clarity, Dehaze, Sharpening, Vignetting, and Grain. When exporting develop settings as a LUT, you will be warned if the selected photo or presets contain any of those incompatible settings, and except for Shadows and Highlights, Export LUT will ignore them when creating a LUT. Many popular Lightroom develop presets use those settings to a greater or lesser degree.
In general, LUTs can only represent develop settings that transform a given input color to the same output color uniformly throughout the image. But a develop setting like Clarity can transform a given input color to many different output colors, depending on the location of pixels with that input color and the colors of nearby pixels. LUTs are incapable of representing such transformations. (Mathematically, LUTs are functions mapping pixel colors to pixel colors; whereas develop settings are functions that take additional inputs, such as the location of the pixel within the image and the colors of nearby pixels.)
Further complicating the issue, many of Lightroom’s develop settings are “image-adaptive”. An image-adaptive setting may transform a given color in one image differently than in another, depending on the images’ content. For example, a Shadows setting of +30 may lighten a given color in one image more than in another. Since Export LUT uses a test pattern to translate develop settings into a LUT, the effect of a setting on a color in the test pattern may not be exactly the same as on the image you’re viewing in Develop. Image-adaptiveness is why a develop setting applied to a raw may produce a slightly different effect than the same setting applied to a TIFF or JPEG exported from the raw. Since Export LUT uses TIFF test patterns, to get the best results, use non-raws (JPEG, TIFF, PSD) when previewing and creating LUTs.Coping with the Limitations
Don't use raw photos: As explained above, use non-raw photos (JPEG, TIFF, PSD) when previewing or creating LUTs.
Use Tone Curve for large tonal changes: My experience has been that, for small and modest changes to the Basic develop settings of normally exposed photos, the exported LUT is usually fairly accurate. But for larger changes in the settings, especially with Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks, and with under- or over-exposed images, the exported LUT is less accurate due to their image-adaptive property.
To make large changes to highlights, shadows, and the white and black points, use the Tone Curve panel instead – it appears that it is not image-adaptive, and thus its changes will be more accurately captured by exported LUTs. You can change the white and black points with the custom point curve. Then click the curve icon in the lower-right corner of the panel and use the Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows sliders to adjust the different regions of the tone curve.
Auto Tone: The Auto Tone setting can’t be directly represented by LUTs, since the actual develop settings applied by Auto Tone will change from image to image. However, you can apply Auto Tone (or the preset containing Auto Tone) to a representative image (e.g. a video frame) and then create a LUT from that image’s settings.Video Color Management
To ensure your LUTs accurately recreate the look you see in Lightroom, you’ll need a workflow that’s correctly color-managed. This takes some attention to details, since the photo and video worlds approach color management much differently.
If you don’t have calibrated displays for both Lightroom and your video-editing software, all bets are off. The results of applying the LUT to your video are unlikely to match the original appearance in Lightroom.
Premiere Pro and Resolve assume you are viewing your video edits on a second monitor calibrated to the Rec 709 broadcast standard—neither program uses color profiles produced by your Mac or Windows calibrator (i1 Display, Spyder, etc.). So unless you have a Rec 709 second monitor or a display such as an Eizo that can emulate a Rec 709 monitor in its own firmware, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to match colors between Lightroom and Premiere Pro or Resolve. (Don't be fooled by Resolve 12.5's option "Use Mac Display Color Profile for Viewers—the manual states that “custom calibrated .icc profiles are not supported at this time".)
I believe Final Cut Pro X is fully color-managed and uses the calibrated color profile assigned to your Mac’s display (but I haven’t verified it). As long as you've calibrated your display, Final Cut Pro X should faithfully display video colors.
You’ll need to determine the color space of the video project’s timeline—this is the color space in which the video edits are being made and displayed. Export LUT can only work with the color space Rec 709 with a gamma of 2.2 or 2.4.
In Premiere Pro, it appears the timeline is always in Rec 709, with a gamma of 2.4 (but I haven’t found authoritative documentation.)
In Resolve 12.5, by default the project timeline is in Rec 709, with a gamma of 2.4. You can verify this by going to the Color Management tab in the project settings.
I don’t know what Final Cut Pro X uses by default, but I’m guessing its Rec 709, gamma 2.2 or 2.4.
If you’re importing video frames into Lightroom, the frames must be assigned the profile of the color space of the video project’s timeline. Use the File > Plug-in Extras > Assign Color Profile command to check the profile and assign one if necessary. Once assigned the correct profile, the appearance of the frame in Lightroom should match its appearance in your video editor.
The Export LUT command will warn you if the selected photo is missing a color profile. Cancel the command, assign a profile with Assign Color Profile, and then check the photo’s appearance in Develop before invoking Export LUT again.
Export LUT includes two color profiles, Rec 709 Gamma 2.2 and Rec 709 Gamma 2.4. You may have other Rec 709 profiles installed on your computer, but beware their gamma may not be apparent from their names.
Frames exported by Premiere Pro and Resolve aren’t assigned any profile. (I don’t know what Final Cut Pro X does.) Lightroom will assume incorrectly such frames are in the sRGB color space, while they are actually in the timeline’s color space (usually Rec 709). If you don’t assign a profile to the frames, there will be a tonal and contrast shift between Lightroom and the video editor.
In the Export LUT command, select the color profile corresponding to your video project’s timeline. If you select the wrong profile, the LUT won’t accurately create the look of the selected presets of photo. (See Importing Frames for the two Rec 709 color profiles included with Export LUT.)
If you are editing log-encoded video (Sony S-Log, Canon C-Log, Arri Alexa LogC, etc.), you must first convert it to Rec 709 in your timeline before applying a LUT created by Export LUT.
Resolve provides the capability of editing log video directly without converting to Rec 709, by setting the timeline to be in the color space of the log-video encoding. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to create two-way ICC color profiles fully representing those color spaces, and without such profiles, it isn’t possible to use Export LUT.
(I had earlier written that Light Illusion’s Spaceman utility could create such profiles, based on the mistaken initial assurance of Spaceman's author. After I purchased a license for $183 based on that assurance, the author prevaricated unprofessionally for a few months before finally admitting he had forgotten how his product worked and that it couldn't do what he had told me. He refused to refund the purchase.)Keyboard Shortcuts
Windows: You can use the standard menu keystrokes to invoke Export LUT commands. For example, ALT+L opens the Library menu, U opens the Plug-in Extras submenu, and X invokes the Export LUT command.
To reassign a different final keystroke to an Export LUT menu item, edit the file Info.lua in the plugin folder. Move the & in front of the desired letter in the menu command’s name, changing the name itself if necessary.
Mac OS: You can use the standard mechanism for assigning application shortcuts to plugin menu commands. In System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Application Shortcuts, select Adobe Lightroom. Click "+" to add a new shortcut, in Menu Title type the name of the menu command preceded by three spaces. For example, if you wanted to assign a key to the Export LUT > Export LUT command, type "<space><space><space>Export LUT". In Keyboard Shortcut type the desired key or key combination.
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Copyright 2015-17 John R. Ellis