Home Cinematography How to Create 3D LUTs to Deliver the Power of your Artistic Look with DaVinci Resolve: Part 3

How to Create 3D LUTs to Deliver the Power of your Artistic Look with DaVinci Resolve: Part 3

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

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How to Create a 3D LUT in DaVinci Resolve

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The most difficult part about creating a 3D LUT is understanding how you want to create the LOOK. The easy part is creating the file. You can create a 3D LUT in DaVinci Resolve in both the Full version and the Lite version, which is free. (With the full version, it is required that you have a USB dongle for the program to work.)

You’re at the point now where you’ve gone in with your Log file, added a Rec709 color space and you’ve done some adjusting to your contrast or your saturation. Now you’re ready to export a file that you can then throw into your monitor.

Breaking down the export process

Step 1: Ready to generate the file
Once you have imported your footage, graded it and found an overall look you want to use as your LUT for your project, your screen will look similar to the first image below. (Your values may be different and you may have some various nodes, etc.)

You can see that we are in the “Color” section of Resolve. Your “V1” track in the thumbnail area of your timeline will have an image in it to represent that you have clips on your timeline. Right now, we just have one clip, which happens to be a clip from our Blackmagic URSA Camera test from a few months back.

Full screen view of the Color area

Full screen view of the Color area

The highlighted area at the bottom of Resolve lets you know which area you are working in. We are currently in “Color.”

The highlighted area at the bottom of Resolve lets you know which area you are working in. We are currently in “Color.”

Step 2: Select option to “Generate 3D LUT”
In the picture below, you will see that we are in a pop-up window after we did a “control+click” or a “right+click” (depending on your mouse settings, I like having that right click enabled) and we have selected:

“GENERATE 3D LUT (CUBE)”

By selecting this option, we are going to create a “.CUBE” file, which will allow you to load into various cameras, monitors, etc. (We will get to a list of where a .CUBE file can be loaded in a minute.)

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Step 3: Save your LUT file
Once you select the “Generate 3D LUT (Cube)” option, a window will pop up asking you to save the file. I personally save my files to the desktop into a folder and then I remove that folder or archive it away once I have copied the file to the appropriate card to put into my camera or monitor.
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Step 4: Copy the file from your hard drive to the SD Card or CF Card
You will see that the .Cube file is now on your computer, or you could have chosen to save it directly to an SD card or CF Card to load into your monitor or camera.

In some cases, you may have to load directly off your laptop connected via USB to a monitor to get the LUT to store within the hardware.

I suggest when you put the files onto your computer or card and make a folder for each set of Looks. If you have more than one Look for a scene or you have multiple versions of a Day Exterior, etc, having a folder just labeled “Scene 101” or “Day EXT” can make it a lot easier for you, your 1st AC or DIT to scroll through the card to find those Looks.

You will see that there is additional material generated in the file name, in our case it reads:

“BMD URSA LUT_1.RCR URSA 1.9.10_1_2014-12-05_1236_C0000.cube”

The additional material is pulled from a combination of the original file name and location of how it gets stored, but it is not essential to the name of the file. You can delete anything before the “.cube” to keep everything organized on your monitor.

“BMD URSA LUT.cube”

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In Part 4, I will dive into how I use 3D LUTs on set and loading LUTs into different devices.

Take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 of this series here:

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