I recently worked on a major network pilot shooting on three Canon C300 cameras as part of the camera department; camera duties tied me up and allowed one of my good friends, and a fledgling DIT, to take care of the data wrangling. Our DIT processed dailies with a LUT on-set before they were uploaded to the network’s proprietary dailies viewing system. While with RED cameras we have the power of Redcine-X to non-destructively adjust color before we batch out dailies files, the process has slightly more steps when applying a LUT using Adobe After Effects. I developed this script for him and, consequently, myself to use in the future.
To batch apply LUTs in Adobe After Effects, you’ll need:
Import your footage into After Effects. In your project library, select all your newly imported footage and drag it on the New Composition icon. A window will pop up that you’ll select “Multiple Compositions” and “Add to Render Queue”. This will create a corresponding composition for each video file and queue it up in the Render Queue so it’s ready to batch out.
Select one of the newly created comps. In the Effects panel, select Utility > Apply Color LUT to the footage. This will prompt you to select a LUT file to apply. Once applied, select the effect in the Effects Control panel and then hit the new icon in the Effects panel to save an effect/animation preset. Save this to your desktop or any other folder that you can navigate to easily. Repeat this step if you have more than one LUT (i.e.: an indoor LUT, an outdoor LUT, a night LUT, a flashback LUT, and so on).
As far as LUT file creation, I might go over that in another post. Adobe Speedgrade .look files are LUTs, for instance, or the DP or post production may supply you with one.
In your project library, select the comps that you want to batch with the same LUT. Go to File > Scripts > Run Script File and select the Add Preset to Selected Comps script. This will prompt you to select a .ffx file: the same preset file we created in step 2. Navigate to where you saved your preset and apply the LUT preset. You’ll notice that the script applies the preset to a brand new adjustment layer. Go to your Render Queue, set your output settings, and you’re off to the races.
I would love to have avoided step 2 but you cannot script the LUT file choice directly. It’s a bit of a work around but compared to do this fully manually, you’ll save hundreds of clicks and drag-and-drops over the course of a single DIT job.