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Best Of: Instant color correction with free custom LUTs and mLUT from motionVFX

Posted by Iain Anderson on

Color correction is a large and contentious topic. While the color board is great for fixing many exposure and color-related issues, and some of the built-in Looks can help you get a lot further, it’s pretty easy to hit the app’s limits. Without a pro-level color correction tool and a knowledge of how to use it, you can be stuck if you need a really different look.

LUTs provide a simple yet powerful way to perform advanced color correction. Each LUT is a Look-Up Table that describes how an image’s color should be transformed — a collection of complex color correction effects in a black box with a “.cube” extension. LUTs are available from many providers: some free, some paid, and you can even make your own with Photoshop or Resolve. This search for LUTs is just one place to start, but here I’ll use these Print Film Emulation LUTs from Juan Melara. Download those files, and store them in a safe place on your Mac, such as the Movies folder.

mInstaller installing mLUT

To apply a LUT in FCP X, you’ll need an effect, and mLUT from motionVFX will do the job nicely — grab it now. Run through the cart at motionvfx.com, then download and run their mInstaller app, log in, and finally click Install next to mLUT.

the mLUT Library with a selection of Juan Melara's free LUTs loaded

Launch FCP X, create a timeline, and add some footage. Apply the mLUT effect to your clip, then Option-click the clip and look in the Inspector. While it’s possible to load a custom LUT for one-off use, in general it’s a better idea to enter the mLut Library through the button at the top of the Inspector, then import all the LUTs you’ve found. To apply a LUT, just click its preview icon to see the end result, then press OK.

mLUT in the Inspector with Saturation turned way, way up

Each LUT is generally designed with an input color profile (such as Log or Rec709) in mind, so you might have to try out a few before you hit on a good result. It’s also worth tweaking the sliders on the right to finesse the result further.

Finally, remember that you can apply a LUT to a single clip or to an Adjustment Layer. Both can work well, but be sure to download a wide range of LUTs before you start to give you plenty of options later. Good luck!


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3 comments

  • Andy, comments on this website are not seen by the plugin authors, you should contact MotionVFX directly with this question. We are just a directory website.

    Roger on
  • it’s disappointing when there is just one comment and the author is unable or unwilling to answer a sincere question…

    randy on
  • I tried this and I have come across one LUT that crashes FCPX every time I even select it in the mLut plugin. Is there a way to remove this one LUT from the list? I can’t see how to do it.

    Andy on

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