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Using Adobe After Effects to Batch apply LUTs for Dailies

July 16th, 2012 / By Angelo Lorenzo / 3 Comments

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:

  • Add Preset to Selected Comps. An Adobe After Effects script that applies an effects/animation preset to an adjustment layer on selected compositions in your project.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

3 Comments

  • Manuel López says:

    Thanks, great tip!!!

  • Jake says:

    Hi,
    Where do you get the LUT’s?
    I downloaded the C300 LUT’s from Canon’s website but they are in a CSV format which AE dosen’t regonize.

    Thanks,
    Jake

    • Angelo Lorenzo says:

      Hi Jake,

      The LUTs were created by me. We didn’t shoot super flat in-camera so we added some very simple curves and saturation adjustments, then converted those to a usable set of LUTs (daylight, interior, etc) with LUTBuddy to apply to dailies. I’m not sure if the editing team used my LUTs for the final adjustment or not, so they were used mostly for viewing.

      If Adobe’s LUT plugin doesn’t work, then try LUTBuddy. Although it says it is not compatible, it works fine in CS6 with the exception of converting LUTs; it will freeze when trying a conversion.

      Most LUTs are simple value lists. Compare it to some of the LUT file types and you may find you just need to paste some text into the file you have to make it workable.

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