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mLUT - The Best FCP X LUT Plugin

Cinematic LUTs Free for pro video editors. Cinematic LUT Pack includes 10 files – Shine, Matte, Deep, Wipe and others. MLUT is the first LUT plugin for FCP X that allows you to load LUTs directly into the inspector. The second big thing is that mLUT gives you a whole set of strait forward, key-framable, controls to fine tune the look of the LUT. If you've been wanting to apply LUTs to LOG footage or emulate different film looks like the Motion Picture Film LUTs in Final Cut Pro X, I don't even have to sell you on this plugin. Final Cut Pro X 10.3 and earlier and Motion 5 users can apply 3D LUTs or Look Up Tables to their footage!

By Braden Storrs

Up to this point there have been a couple plugins for Final Cut Pro X that allow the use of LUTs, but there always seems to be a compromise of some kind with them. Some workaround or and issue because of the design. LUT Utility allows the loading of LUTs but you have to go through the System Preferences app and it really lacks any controls to tweak the effect of the LUT in the inspector. With Magic Bullet Looks you can load LUTs and you have control but first you have to pay the fairly heavy entry fee to own it and then you have to load an external interface to use it and, in my experience, it is less then reliable. They are working on it but there seems to be recurring issues every time a new version of FCP X comes out.

MotionVFX is what I consider to be the best plugin developer for the Apple Pro Apps. mObject, mFlare, mHUD, among other plugins, there’s a long list. Everything they bring out is solid, useful, and fairly priced. Adding to the lineup they’ve just released mLUT.

If you’re not familiar with LUTs (Look Up Tables) here is a link that explains the technical mumbo jumbo in detail: LUTs Basically they take the chroma and luma values of an image and reassign them new display values based on an algorithm in a “Look Up Table”. Unlike an effect plugin, which is just like painting over top of the existing image. In my experience LUTs can make more subtle and specific changes to an image in a way that filters can’t. For the NLE this lets you give a look to your film but uses less power to process and playback. They were originally used to emulate the film a movie would eventually be printed out to but quickly people figured out they could be a powerful color grading tool.

mLUT is the first LUT plugin for FCP X that allows you to load LUTs directly into the inspector. Finally! The second big thing is that mLUT gives you a whole set of strait forward, key-framable, controls to fine tune the look of the LUT. Levels and Hue and Saturation, for example. Which is important when applying a LUT as not all clips will react the same to it depending on their luma and chroma values. They’ve also included the option to add film grain or other noise types. This way you won’t need to add yet another plugin to get the look you want.

The other unique feature of mLUT is that it features the mLUT Library. Clicking the blue “mLUT Library” button launches another UI window which lets you click on and preview their LUTs, including with viewer playback, before applying it. You can change the active LUT at an time.

They’ve included with the plugin 30 LUTs based on the looks of popular blockbuster films that you can start using right away. Looking at MotionVFX’s plugin history they’re likely to have more LUT packs come out in the future, if I were to guess. Now while many of us probably have our favorite film or custom LUTs that we will load in, these can be good options for when you’re in a hurry or want a very stylized look. I’d like to note the blockbuster pack of LUTs is designed for Log style flat footage and will give any rec.709 footage an over contrasty, saturated, look using the default settings. Luckily, given the controls available in mLUT you can dial down the look of any of these LUTs to work with the type of footage you have. These LUTs can also be used in any other application that accepts 3D LUTS.

Click the “Load Custom LUT” to do just that and navigate to your LUTs in the finder, select it, and click open to apply it.

Here’s a how-to video they put together:

The workflow if fairly strait forward. I’d like to point out that either you can apply mLUT directly to the clips or use an adjustment layer and stretch that over the whole project and apply the LUT to that and then adjust the files underneath independently.

The ability to import and utilize LUTs in your workflow is very important, especially in larger productions when you really want control of the look of your film. I now put mLUT up there with the other essential FCP X apps.

For more info and to purchase mLUT go HERE!

Another app I think is worth mentioning alongside mLUT is called Look Converter from Picture Instruments. This nifty little tool generates neutral LUT images which you can then put into any still or video application which can output an image. There apply whatever filter or action you want to it and save it. The Look Converter will then take that file and create a custom LUT that replicates the look you applied to that neutral Look Up Table. This essentially gives you the unlimited ability to create LUTs. For example there’s a bunch of still film emulations I have that are not available for video applications and now I have access to them through this tool. *Note* There was an issue with LUTs created by Look Converter not working properly with mLUT because of the unique way Look Converter structures their LUTs but, as always, contacting MotionVFX support went super smooth and they tweaked some things to accept the LUT structure from Look Converter. The fix will be in the next update.

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