Color grading when using LUT's

This is more of a question about video editing in general than it is specific to Shotcut, so hopefully it’s ok to ask here. When color grading and using LUT’s, is it normal to go between those two filters and tweak each setting until you get the look that you want? My general philosophical approach is to use color grading to get my shadows, midtones and highlights in check, then apply a LUT to alter the color scheme. However, more and more, as I learn and get comfortable with color editing, I’m finding that I need to return to color grading to make some minor adjustments after a LUT has been added. Sometimes that’s just to bring a highlight down or a shadow up. Everyone probably has a slightly different approach to color adjustment, but I just wanted to see if I was on the right track. Obviously, I’m fairly new at this. :grinning:


You are correct. Many people do “lazy color grading.” They make initial edits on white balance and exposure, then just slap on a LUT, or not even make the initial edits at all. Not all shots are the same and each may need individual tweaking even after the LUT has been added. I’ve been known to apply the color grade filter 3 times on the same video file. Cheers!

Short version: Yes.

Long version: There are three general phases to color correction, and each phase can be implemented manually with filters or “automated” by a LUT:

  • Conversion: for example, to take log footage and transform it into BT.709 color space

  • Correction: for example, a camera-specific LUT that fixes known color discrepancies, or a manual filter to fix major exposure or white balance problems

  • Style/Artistic: for example, to take corrected footage and then turn it all yellow to simulate golden hour

Any tool (filter or LUT) can be used in any phase, multiple times if needed. It is very common to exit the Style phase and still need an exposure tweak for the specific look you want. In the case of simulating golden hour, a LUT has no way of knowing how bright the source footage is or how dark you want the final result, so tweaks are expected.

Obviously, don’t brighten in the Correction phase then darken it right back down after the Style phase, because that can introduce banding and accuracy errors for no good reason.

It’s usually a little messy no matter what. Ultimately, do what works.

That actually sounds like my approach right now. :sweat_smile: I’m starting to move the center of those color wheels a little, though. Just a little.

Yeah, I’m kind of finding that as I go along. It’s not simple. If it was, I suppose anyone could do it right the first time. As it is, I’m trying to find the balance of learning what I need to with actually producing some video work. I guess one just learns a concept, applies it, then moves along to the next project.

Also: I did not know that a filter could be applied multiple times. I can see where it would be handy to apply a correction LUT, then a separate stylistic LUT later on. I will mess around with that.

Thanks for the replies, both of you.

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Absolutely! You can layer the same filters, but be careful. The order of filters matters.

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