Solving a management nightmare: ColorFinale LUTs

Colour LUTs or Colour Lookup Tables in full are a kind of digital colour filters and there are millions of them out there, paid as well as free. Collecting large numbers of the things may quickly lead to thousands of small files on your system, often without you having a clue as to what they will make your footage look like.

When you apply a “looks” LUT to footage, you are actually applying mathematical formulas that someone else developed to your footage’s existing colours. LUTs easily and quickly change the look of your footage, sometimes even replacing the colours your camera shot altogether.

Even if they’re cheap, it’s appealing to have many LUTs available for quick-and-dirty work or because you’re colour grading illiterate. Color Finale LUTs solves most of the issues that crop up soon after you have invested in LUT packs.

An input or camera LUT is used at the beginning of the colour correction process to adjust your film project so that the colours shot with an ARRI that wildly differ from those shot with a Sony CineAlta look the same in your colour grading station — think anything from Premiere Pro over Final Cut Pro X to — par excellence — DaVinci Resolve.

A look LUT contains instructions to create a baseline for a desired look in your footage and as such is a time saver. Look LUTs always assume natural colour, which is why you’ll want to apply the camera LUT if there is one. If there isn’t one, it means your camera has the natural colour look applied in-camera.

With a limited budget, an investment in a LUT pack of 100 or so Euros seems like a good idea. Then comes the next project with you going after a different look, and the second pack is licensed, and then the third, the fourth and I can go on and on, and on. I know from personal experience how addictive those look LUTs can be.

The enthusiasm about the purchase, though, subsides quickly when you realise you need to open Final Cut Pro X every time you want to see what a certain LUT does to an image or a clip. And before you know it, those LUT packs are gathering digital dust.

The Color Trix team who successfully developed the Color Finale colour grading plug-in for Final Cut Pro X saw an opportunity and decided to develop a LUT management app for macOS, Color Finale LUTs and I must admit that I am smitten with the app.

Color Finale LUTs review

Color Finale LUTs is a LUT manager. That means it enables you to view LUT effects exactly the way the developer has intended, copy, move and delete LUTs and organise them. It supports Smart LUT Collections (saved searches) and persistent collections coming from multiple folders on your system. These Persistent Collections are actually new ones, which is great if you create LUTs yourself and want to use Color Finale LUTs to easily create collections for sale.

Finally, Color Finale LUTs integrates with some NLEs like Final Cut Pro X, the one I tested it with. In Final Cut Pro X, it allows you to apply LUTs as a Custom LUT Effect or a Color Finale LUT effect.

Color Finale LUTs has an intuitive, user-friendly interface with an image viewer at the top and a LUT gallery at the bottom. When you add a top folder, it will also scan all the folders beneath it and list all found LUTs in a sidebar, neatly organised per folder.

The Viewer supports images from your system as well as video frames from footage for assessing LUT looks. It offers innovative capabilities such as layering a camera LUT and a look LUT, and even using any LUT as a camera LUT so you can see how two LUTs stacked on top of each other will turn out visually.

If you find a look attractive and you loaded a video frame as an image for viewing, you can even export the whole clip to which that frame belongs to as an HEVC MP4 movie for sharing with clients, team members, etc.

In short, Color Finale LUTs lets you manage thousands of LUTs sitting idle on your disk drive up to the point that you will actually be aware of what they can mean for your footage. Color Finale LUTs retails at $34.99.

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