FCP X: How and When to Use the Custom LUT Effect

Posted on by Larry

A LUT (LookUp Table) is a conversion table that instantly changes pixel values from one setting to the next.

Final Cut provides two different ways to apply LUTs to your footage: the Inspector and the Custom LUT effect. This article describes how to use the Custom LUT effect.

NOTE: Here’s a tutorial on the differences between Raw, Log and LUT files.


Typical uses of LUTs are:

Apple’s Help files explain that Final Cut Pro supports two categories of LUTs:

Before we move on, I want to stress that Final Cut supports the full dynamic (grayscale) range of your media as long as you are working in a Rec. 2020 HLG or PQ project. You can use Log media in a Rec. 709 project, but the dynamic range will need to be reduced to fit within the limitations of that color space.

All LUTs are applied non-destructively. You can add, change or remove them at any time without damaging the quality of your media.


Generally, camera LUTs are applied using the Inspector. Custom LUTs are applied using the Custom LUT effect.

NOTE: This effect is stored in: Effects browser > Color > Custom LUT

NOTE: You can import one or more 3D LUT files with the filename extensions .cube and .mga. If you imported a folder of LUT files, it appears as a submenu in the LUT pop-up menu. (In this case, choose a LUT from the submenu so that it appears as the selected LUT at the top of the Custom LUT section.)


There are several differences between using the Custom LUT effect compared to applying LUTs using the Inspector:


Most of the time, I recommend using Inspector LUTs. While these are traditionally used to apply a camera LUT, this option works equally well for custom LUTs.

Be careful applying multiple LUTs to the same footage. It is generally good practice to apply one camera LUT to get the footage “in the ball park,” then, if needed, add a second, custom, LUT to create the look you need. Finally, tweak using the color grading tools to get your clips looking exactly right.

While you can apply multiple custom LUTs to the same clip, you would be better served by creating a single custom LUT that gets exactly the look you want.


Here two additional tutorials about LUTS you might find helpful:

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