First Look: 3D LUT Creator – Absolute Color Magic For Stills

Posted on by Larry

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

3D LUT Creator is an advanced color tool that easily allows creating color effects for still images – without masks, artifacts or rendering. Effects that can’t be created in any other software I’ve worked with.

Developed by Oleg Sharonov, and running on both Mac and Windows, the secret behind 3D LUT Creator is that all digital images are composed of pixels, each with a numeric color value. By changing these color values using Look-Up Tables (LUTs), similar colors in the image can be instantly altered.

Running as a stand-alone program and sporting a highly-interactive interface that is really, REALLY deep, this software is optimized for Photoshop. While 3D LUT Creator does not directly support video, there is a workaround. The full system also allows creating, importing, or exporting LUTs for other applications.

Words don’t do this program justice. You need to see the demo.

Program: 3D LUT Creator
Developer: 3D LUT Creator
Website: 3DLUTCreator.com
Price: $99 (US) Grading, $199 (US) Standard, #249 (US) Professional
A 30-day free trial is available

INSTALLATION


Installation is reasonably simple, though Mac users will get a security warning that this is from an unidentified identifier. I was initially concerned that the company was based in Russia, but searches around the web did not turn up any immediate problems.

Go to System Preferences > Security to enable installation of the software. When installation is complete, the program “LUTCreator” will be located in the Applications folder.

You can only download the program from their website, it is not in the Mac App Store.

NOTE: This program was first created on Windows, as it doesn’t completely follow Mac interface guidelines. For example, Preferences are found under the File menu. Also, the program assumes you are using a 3-button mouse and some keyboard shortcuts are non-standard.

USER MANUAL THOUGHTS

I’m a video guy that works in Photoshop, but I’m no Photoshop wizard. The user manual assumes that you are an experienced Photoshop colorist, with an in-depth knowledge of how to manipulate color.

This means the user manual does an excellent job of explaining the menus and buttons in the program. However, it doesn’t explain how to achieve specific effects.

The program would benefit significantly from including a few sample images, then adding a chapter to the manual on how to use the program to achieve specific effects. I’m reasonably knowledgeable on how to adjust color for video images but many times found myself lost when reading the manual. This is not a program for beginners.

NOTE: 3D LUT Creator supports virtually all still image formats (RGB, CMYK, gray-scale) except for LAB formats. LUT formats supported include: 3DL, CUBE, CSP, PNG GPUImage, PNG Unity 3D, and PNG Amplify Color.

OPERATION

The program was developed to adjust still images in Photoshop. In fact, it can automatically display an image that is currently open in Photoshop, adjust it, then send the corrected image back. Every image we use in the program is a still image.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

Open an image in the program.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

Click and drag the color area in the image that you want to change. A new LUT is created in the background that maps the selected colors to new values. This is EXTREMELY fast.

The on-screen indicators quickly help you locate the selected color on the right in the adjustment section on the left.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

Changing Volumes allows us to control brightness based upon the color. This is the before.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

This is after.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

The A/B grid allows us to change one color without changing other colors. This is the before.

NOTE: A fast way to reset the changes in a screen is to click the right-mouse button.


(Click image to see full-size version.)

And this is after. No masks were used in creating this effect. The only problem is that this changes all the colors – in this case, the color red – in the image regardless of whether they are in the woman’s dress or at edges of the pier. It would be helpful to have the ability to add a mask to restrict the color changes to a specific area in the image.

NOTE: The program has extensive masks, but they are based on color and gray-scale values, not areas within the image.

ANALYSIS WINDOW

There is also a highly useful Analysis window, that analyzes the image, then displays it on a variety of scopes and numeric tables.

THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVED

As a video person, there are a number of improvements that would enable me to get a lot more out of the program:

There is nothing wrong with being an advanced program. In fact, this is a decided benefit. However, more needs to be done to bring us users up to an advanced level.

SUMMARY

This is an amazingly powerful tool; and I understand only a very small piece of it. If you are into color, you should download the demo and play with it. For still image photographers, this can and will create amazing effects.

For videographers, though, the video workflow is still awkward. While the color effects you can achieve are stunning, there is no seamless operation between 3D LUT Creator and your favorite NLE.

NOTE: The demo version, which I was using here, does not support exporting 3D LUTS, so there is no way to test a video workflow without purchasing the program.

For power, flexibility, and color effects, 3D LUT Creator is unequaled. Now, they need to turn their attention to showing the rest of us how to use it.

EXTRA CREDIT

The FStoppers website wrote a very informative review of the program from a Photoshop user’s perspective. You can read it here.

Also, the video tutorials on the 3D LUT Creator website are excellent and a huge help in understanding how the program works.


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2 Responses to First Look: 3D LUT Creator – Absolute Color Magic For Stills

  1. You can mask part of the image in a number of ways in the MASK tab.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU_HmynNr7OOuPM0P9QXhTw

    Search for “mask”

  2. Dialungana says:

    Très cool

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