Using Cinematic LUTs to Achieve a Film Look on Videos

Using Cinematic LUTs to Achieve a Film Look on Videos | Mastin Labs

Creating a beautiful, cinematic video on your own might be easier than you think! If spending hours upon hours learning how to color grade doesn’t sound appealing to you (and we don’t blame you), cinematic LUTs are the way to go.

If you’ve already been shooting digital video, you’re aware that the results you get straight out of camera don’t exactly do the Hollywood movies justice. Trying to color grade your video on your own can be extremely frustrating and disheartening—luckily, there are other solutions. 

Whether you’re filming weddings and events, crafting music videos, making advertisements or brand videos, or simply creating videos for your own enjoyment, cinematic LUTs (also known as film LUTs) can help take your project to the next level in just a few clicks.

What Makes a Cinematic Look?

Essentially, a cinematic video looks like a real movie. They’re often inspired by real film stocks

In the past (as with photography), videos were shot on actual film. The chosen film would give the video a certain aesthetic, be it dark and moody, light and airy, black and white, and so on. 

A woman has her hands resting over a man's shoulders while they peer into each others eyes; a still image from a film edited with Mastin Labs LUTs.

Edited with Mastin Labs Portra Original Video LUTs

There isn’t just one single “cinematic look” for videos. It’s all about the quality and feel of the video, and that classic film vibe (which offers plenty of variety to play with!). 

For example, Portra films offer a clean look with warm tones overall and natural skin tones. So a Portra-inspired LUT offers those kinds of tones and a moodier vibe. 

Fujicolor, on the other hand, offers a more light and airy aesthetic that is great for natural light settings. A Fuji-inspired LUT would be ideal for a more dreamy film vibe. 

If you're looking for something more bright and vivid, an Adventure Everyday LUT might be the one for you.

Think about the movies you see in the theatre. Typically, movies have a certain color aesthetic that contributes to how it tells the story and how it makes you feel. Maybe it’s really saturated and bright. Maybe it’s desaturated and muted. Maybe it’s warm. Maybe one color seems to stand out. Maybe it’s dark and moody. 

Now, with digital video, we have to apply these effects in post-production. That’s where color grading and LUTs come in.

How Do You Shoot Cinematically? 

It’s not just about post-processing. Of course, the way you shoot your video is also very important. 

For example, if you’re shooting in a bright, sunny setting, achieving a dark and moody look is going to be difficult. And if you’re not using the proper settings while shooting, anything you try to do in post-production will be more challenging. Different types of gear will also have different effects. 

A still of a video edited with film-emulation LUTs showing a man peering through green foliage.Edited with Mastin Labs Fuji Original Video LUTs

On top of the gear, lighting, overall setting, and camera settings, there’s also the way you choose to shoot the video. The positioning, the movement, the overall vision of how it’s all going to come together. 

What’s the story you’re trying to tell? What’s the feeling you want to convey? 

Some tips to consider when shooting cinematic film:

  • Using the correct lens for the style you want to achieve, preferably one of high quality.
  • Shoot in LOG or RAW (this can help to get you the most out of your LUTs and dynamic range).
  • Adding movement with the help of a gimbal.
  • Physically moving closer to the subject rather than zooming in.
  • Using a tripod for shots where the camera should be still.
  • Don’t be afraid to use artificial lighting. 
  • Consider shooting at 24 fps.
  • For slow-motion clips, shoot at a higher frame rate, then edit at 24 fps.
  • Use storyboarding to plan ahead and tell your story.
  • Try using shallow depth of field.
  • Use a high dynamic range if it’s accessible to you.
  • If you’re a photographer, consider the skills you already have that are useful for videography

Something else to consider when shooting video is how the LUT will interact with the gear you’re using. For example, some LUTs will look different depending on the camera or profile that was used. Mastin Labs LUTs offer camera profile standardization for many brands and picture profiles, which helps videographers achieve a consistent look no matter what gear they’re using. 

How Do You get the Cinematic Look on Videos in Post-Processing?

Once you’ve shot your video, it’s time to add that classic film look! 

Like we mentioned before, most of this is done with color grading. There isn’t one formula here, and there are many different ways to manipulate the colors in a video to make it look more cinematic. Take a look at the work of some of your favorite filmmakers to see what they did.

A woman in an orange shirt smells the blossoms on a tree in a still taken from a video edited with film LUTs by Mastin Labs.Edited with Mastin Labs Fuji Original Video LUTs

Using classic film stocks as inspiration is an option that never fails. There’s a reason why these films have existed for years, and why there is a resurgence of people shooting real film today. Because it’s a look that just can’t be beat. 

However, color grading can take a long time to learn and perfect, which is why LUTs are so helpful. 

What are Cinematic LUTs and How Do They Impact Color Grading?

In terms of video editing, LUTs (Lookup Tables) are essentially like a photography preset, but for video. When applied to a video clip, they alter the colors and tones, which impacts the effect and mood of the video. 

The cinematic LUT you choose will depend on the look you’re going for and the setting in which you’re shooting. It’s also important to know that not all LUTs are created equal. Not only do they look different, but some are higher quality or easier to use. There are plenty of free LUTs out there, but usually, you get what you pay for.

LUTs are applied in video editing softwares such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut, or Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. While some LUTs can be used across multiple softwares, the way they work on each is slightly different. 

For example, learn more about how Mastin Labs LUTs work across the three video editing platforms.

Who Can Benefit from Using Film LUTs?

In our opinion—anyone shooting video can benefit from using LUTs! 

That being said, our film LUTs are especially useful for anyone who is interested in producing beautiful, film-inspired videos and streamlining their video-editing workflow. Many videographers in the Mastin Labs Community have commented on how LUTs have helped them create more gorgeous videos in significantly less time.

More specifically, some people who can definitely benefit from using LUTs:

New Videographers

Learning how to shoot videography is already tough as it is. Adding on learning how to color grade your video is a whole other beast! 

If you’re new to videography, LUTs can help you create beautiful videos right away without all the post-production frustration. It will allow you to produce better results, faster.

Even if you hope to do your own color grading eventually, LUTs can help you along the journey of discovering your unique style and how colors can instill different emotions.

Photographers Offering Videography as a Secondary Service

LUTs can also really come in handy if you offer videography as a secondary service to your photography. This is becoming more and more popular, especially amongst wedding photographers, family photographers, lifestyle photographers, newborn photographers, and boudoir photographers.

LUTs are useful here for two main reasons:

  • The streamlined workflow saves you time and allows you to produce more and better work, faster (which ultimately means more profit for you!).
  • You might be able to find LUTs that match the style of your photography so that you can offer a consistent look across your images and videos. For example, Mastin Labs has photography presets to complement all of our LUTs. 

A bride and groom stand at the corner of a building together in a still from a film taken by a wedding videographer and edited with cinematic LUTs. Edited with Mastin Labs Fuji Original Video LUTs

Wedding Videographers

Stunning wedding videography is a ton of work, and we have a lot of respect for anyone who does it! 

Once again, LUTs for wedding videography can help streamline that process and save time while producing beautiful results. Creating consistent work while avoiding spending hours and hours behind a computer in post-production—who doesn’t like that idea? 

Content Creators and Commercial Videographers

If you’re creating high-quality video content for yourself or other brands, LUTs can help take it to the next level. 

Whether you’re creating video content for social media, video advertisements, product videography, visual assets for websites, or whatever else, a film look might be just the finishing touch you need to stand out from the crowd. 

Film or Music Video Creators

Since they’re inspired by classic film looks, cinematic LUTs are perfect for budding/hobbyist filmmakers or music video creators. 

Movies and music videos are definitely trying to convey a certain mood and feeling, and the way you color grade makes a huge difference. If you’re not an expert at color grading, LUTs are one of the best ways to create professional, moving work.

Mastin Labs Cinematic LUTs

At Mastin Labs, we’ve spent years developing cinematic LUTs inspired by real film. 

Our film LUTs are easy to use and effective. The beauty of Mastin Labs film LUTs is that they can be applied and adjusted in just a few clicks with our 3-Step Workflow.

A woman with a headwrap and colorful blouse singing into a microphone as a live concert; a still taken from a music video edited with film LUTs. Edited with Mastin Labs Portra Original Video LUTs

While LUTs are almost always helpful to some degree, they often require a lot of tweaking even after being applied. It’s also usually important to color correct your videos first. However, Mastin Labs LUTs take care of a lot of this work for you! 

We hope you find this guide helpful, and can’t wait to see the amazing videos you produce! Don’t forget to join and share your creations in the Mastin Labs Community.

Happy filming!