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3D LUT files ...

Apr 27, 2013 4:31 AM

As a newcomer to color grading, I would like to ask about the difference between .look files and .icc files. As far as I understand .look files contain 3d luts and .icc profile files also contain those luts. What is the difference between these two file types? Thanks.

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    Apr 27, 2013 6:42 AM   in reply to AttilaHan

    I think 3D LUTs are only RGB to RGB, whereas icc profiles can allocate an actual position in the profile connection space to the value-combinations in RGB, CMYK (and even images with more channels) through LUTs or matrices.

    Also icc profiles can contain data on paper color, GCR, TAC, render intents, …

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    Apr 27, 2013 10:53 AM   in reply to AttilaHan

    ICC profiles are a superset of what 3DLUT files can do.


    3DLUT files are non-standardized (open to interpretation mistakes), handle RGB only, and apply only to the specific colorspace they were designed for (which is usually undocumented).  3DLUT files are common in video and film workflows, where there are some tools to create them.



    ICC profiles are an ISO standard.

    ICC profiles can handle RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, and other color models.

    Because ICC profiles can do LAB to LAB mappings in abstract profiles, they can be used to provide accurate color mappings for any color model and colorspace.

    ICC profiles are common outside of video and film, but the tools to create them are still sort of specialized.  There are plenty of tools to create display and print profiles, but not as many to create devicelink and abstract profiles.

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    Apr 27, 2013 1:20 PM   in reply to AttilaHan

    There are no good books on abstract profiles.  Most books just repeat the spec: they're a mapping of LAB values to LAB values (basically any color to any other color).


    Color Theory - that covers a wide range of topics from art education to paint mixing, human vision, physics, image processing, and on and on and on.  It also occupies about 3 shelves in my library.

    If you give us more about your background and what you're trying to do, perhaps we can suggest some appropriate books and resources.

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    Apr 27, 2013 2:31 PM   in reply to AttilaHan

    Unfortunately, typical color grading in the film and video industries ignores all of that.  They work in RGB (and whichever colorspace/encoding that project happens to be in) and not calibrated or CIE related color.


    Basic references for the science would be Color Science by Wyszecki and Stiles (not an easy read), Reproduction of Color by Hunt, and Color Appearance Models by Fairchild.


    Basic references for the methods used in the film/video industry would be The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction by Hullfish, and Color Correction for Video by Hullfish and Fowler.  After that it tends to be a lot of applicaiton specific tutorials.


    For the future of the film industry you can take a look at  (it's still being adopted and debugged, and brings the film industry up to where the print industry was in 1992).


    Again, knowing what you're trying to do might help us make more useful suggestions.

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    Apr 27, 2013 3:30 PM   in reply to AttilaHan

    OK, then start with those books.


    For a traditional artistic perspective, try The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten, and The Interaction of Color by Joseph Albers.  There are several good books on color usage in different periods and cultures, traditional pigment chemistry and paint chemistry - but I like The Science of Paintings by Taft and Mayer.


    One that doesn't fit any common categories, but answers some interesting questions, is The Physics and Chemistry of Color by Kurt Nassau.

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