Lattice—Wrangling LUTS

Many productions rely on multiple cameras, sometimes from different manufacturers. This creates a color-space problem in production. Lattice can help resolve those issues by color matching the images.

It’s happening more and more these days on news magazine shows, commercials, and period dramas. We are shooting RAW and/or in a multitude of compressed formats with different cameras and utilizing various flavors of log. On many shows we are employing a bevy of different manufacturers’ cameras – ARRI Alexa, Canon C300, Sony FS7, Panasonic VariCam, GoProBlackmagic, DSLRs – just keeping all of this the olio of colour spaces and log profiles straight can be a major challenge.

Sony’s full-frame sensor is capable of full pixel readout on 4K video, impressively precision-packed in a small interchangeable lens digital camera.

Sony’s full-frame sensor is capable of full pixel readout on 4K video, impressively precision-packed in a small interchangeable lens digital camera.

For feature filmmakers at the top end of the market the advent of the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) has surely simplified things. But for pretty much everyone else, especially those of us toiling daily in more typical broadcast productions, the post-camera wrangling of color and various LUTs has become a fact of life.

Broadcasters working primarily with low- and mid-range cameras like the Blackmagic URSA, Sony A7s, and Panasonic DVX200, shown above, are likely to be wrangling 3D LUTs for years to come.

Broadcasters working primarily with low- and mid-range cameras like the Blackmagic URSA, Sony A7s, and Panasonic DVX200, shown above, are likely to be wrangling 3D LUTs for years to come.

Often times in anticipation of color grading and finishing we are obligated to import, transform, transcode, and export, a hodgepodge of .cube, .aml, and .ctl files in what amounts to a very convoluted pipeline. Luckily we now have a tool to facilitate these shenanigans: It’s called Lattice.

Lattice is not a color-grading tool per se, and is not intended to compete with or replace such popular finishing applications as DaVinci Resolve. Instead one should think of Lattice as a kind of Swiss Army Knife for LUT management, able to view, transcode, and conform, a wide array of color spaces and profiles.

Lattice uses advanced formulas to move between different color spaces and transfer functions.

Lattice uses advanced formulas to move between different color spaces and transfer functions.

Featuring a simple intuitive Mac interface Lattice is a versatile LUT management tool that greatly facilitates working with multiple cameras recording in various color spaces and in various forms of log.

If shooting B-roll, for instance, on a Canon C300 and we need to conform to the A camera, which is a Sony FS7, Lattice can convert the Canon Log2 files to Sony S-Log, which we then import into Resolve for hassle-free color grading in a single color space.

While many DOPs and DITs employ Lattice to simply convert 1D or 3D LUTs to a common LUT type, many colorists may also use the tool to tweak, say, only the color aspect of a LUT, rather than the contrast, or vice versa. The Mac-based application, clearly inspired by the simplicity of OS X, features a very straightforward interface, which nonetheless offers plenty of hooks for extremely precise technical adjustments. 

Unless you’re outputting your show in monochrome, converting to a 3D LUT inside Lattice offers far greater color grading options.

Unless you’re outputting your show in monochrome, converting to a 3D LUT inside Lattice offers far greater color grading options.

Increasingly, cameras like the Panasonic VariCam 35 are enabling the creation of 3D LUTs in camera. It’s then a routine matter in Lattice to convert Panasonic’s V-Log file to something else, like Sony S-Log or Blackmagic’s Film Emulation (BMD) LUT.

Blackmagic Design, URSA PL1 camera offers a new user upgradeable 4.6K Super 35 image sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range, 12G-SDI, internal dual RAW and ProRes recorders.

Blackmagic Design, URSA PL1 camera offers a new user upgradeable 4.6K Super 35 image sensor with 15 stops of dynamic range, 12G-SDI, internal dual RAW and ProRes recorders.

To achieve a common color space when working with multiple cameras Blackmagic shooters may want to convert the Film Emulation LUT (BMDFilm) to Kodak Cineon, a profile with which many shooters and colorists are already familiar. Panasonic DVX200 shooters can employ a similar workflow to convert the V-Log files to Cineon. While Panasonic and others offer their own LUT conversion tools Lattice is much more flexible, supporting a vast range of possible combinations, color profiles, and transfer functions.

Lattice: a good solution for today’s problem

While it’s true that ACES may someday obviate the need for Lattice or other LUT management tool, the fact is most broadcasters today do not regard ACES as a practical option. Unfamiliar and overly complicated to most technical operations managers, ACES requires a substantial re-configuring of the entire post-production pipeline, and is thus several years away at least from becoming a staple in most network facilities. 

Effectively this means when shooting with a multitude of camera systems and color profiles, broadcasters have a clear and compelling need for a simple and effective LUT management tool.

Lattice is that tool. It doesn’t eliminate entirely the complexity and hassle of wrangling LUTs but it sure makes the task a whole lot easier. 

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