KinoLUT, A Skintone-Savvy Orange/Teal LUT

by Karin Gottschalk1 Comment

Swiss specialist movie software company Cineplus recently released KinoLUT, reportedly one of the best 3d look-up tables – also known as LUTs – for moviemakers wanting the orange and teal look. According to Cineplus’ John Hope, KinoLUT also offers “the best skin tones in the digital domain”. And guess what… it does!

But first, some orange/teal history

So what is “orange and teal” and why has it become so popular in blockbuster feature moviemaking and, increasingly, movie-quality TV series? Google the search term “orange teal” and page after page of commentary appears about it. My fave blog post about the subject is Teal and Orange – Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness by Todd Miro at Into the Abyss.

I am not certain just when the orange/teal look first found its way into feature film production, perhaps sometime during the twenty-noughties, but journalists and bloggers really began to take notice round about 2010 and started talking about all at once. The orange/teal controversy even found its way into The Guardian online newspaper in Hollywood’s new colour craze by cinema and globalization writer Phil Hoad.

The other day I skimmed through my Hollywood feature film collection to analyse how and why they might be defaulting to orange/teal so much. Some movies are graded almost entirely in it. Others flip over to orange/teal from more naturalistic color grading apparently when the emotional need of the scene demands it.

Dystopia, orange/teal becomes you

And I have to admit that dank, gloomy, dystopian, post-apocalyptic movies seem to do rather well under the orange/teal color scheme. Orange/teal is a color combo you just don’t see above ground in the pre-apocalypse world. I went for a walk around this suburb to find evidence of it and all I could see was yellow/cobalt blue during the middle of the day through to deep amber yellow/ultramarine just before the last flash of the setting sun.

The street lights at night around here are anything but orange. The local council seems to have long replaced its old sodium vapour streetlights with light bulbs emitting something closer to a black-body radiator – a more balanced, broader spectrum color output rather than a narrow-color pulse. And apparently the trend to more natural color artificial lighting is increasing with more cities around the world replacing their old yellow bulbs with daylight balanced ones.

Getting skin right under orange/teal with LUTs

The movies are another thing again. It is rare that you can control every aspect of color and light in anything but the biggest of big budget productions. Every aspect of what you see – the tone and color of the set, the costumes, the makeup, the hair, the lighting and how they appear in the finished movies – is under control.

But what if you don't have that kind of money? Our recent cold, gloomy Sydney grey days are evidence enough that when the sun goes, Nature's technicolor vanishes, so how do you transform a scene with little to no budget? Add LUTs in your grading is how.

And as my tests with KinoLUT show, a beautifully created orange/teal LUT can liven up a scene featuring grey-clad people on grey-paved streets in front of grey buildings quite a treat. Where the KinoLUT set shines is its treatment of skin tones and the choices John Hope adds. Warmer/colder, brighter/darker and combinations of each of those pairs give you plenty to choose from in the quest for just the right balance.

Yet another cold, grey, windy winter's day in the Sydney CBD.

Yet another cold, grey, windy winter's day in the Sydney CBD.

Applying the Cineplus KinoLUT accentuates the emotional content of the footage.

Applying the Cineplus KinoLUT accentuates the emotional content of the footage. The skin tone is preserved while the hair gains some zing and the teal in the background provides color contrast.

I have tried similar freeware and commercial LUTs and KinoLUT has got my vote for THE most flesh-friendly orange/teal LUT so far. Cineplus’ asking price of $18 is a bargain.

KinoLUT – The Epic Movie Look That Respects And Enhances The Skin Tones

From Cineplus Press Release:

KinoLUT Features:

  • Compatible with any footage and platform.
  • Compatible with all editing and color grading suites (may need a third party LUT reader plugin)
  • 45 Variations (9 Color Temperatures x 5 Exposures) for a LUT only grading process.
  • Skin safe LUT: The Skin as seen from a Kodak Vision 2 stock.
  • Super Fast: real time grading from 2K or more (depending on hardware and codec).
  • Teal-Orange as seen in the best Hollywood movies.

KinoLUT Demo

Learn more about KinoLUT

(cover photo credit: snap from Cineplus)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk


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