What is the difference between a PowerGrade and a LUT?
A LUT is a ‘baked in’ mathematical transform. You apply it and you get what you get. The matrix is fairly inflexible.
For example, if the input value is 1 make the output value 7. If the input is 0 make the output 5 – or whatever, these numbers are arbitrary, it is just a conversion matrix – take this, make it that.
This can happen to the image overall (1D LUT) or per colour channel (3D RGB LUT), so for example, in the red channel use LUT A to make 1 = 7 but in the blue channel use LUT B to make 1=15.
LUTs are incredibly useful in certain circumstances where you don't need or want customisable control. The look has been set for a reason and you want to roll with it.
A PowerGrade is an editable group of nodes and effects with custom preset settings, created for DaVinci Resolve that give you the same ‘drag and drop’ power when using a LUT, but now with complete control over what’s happening under the hood.
You can learn more about LUTs in this popular post, including the difference between 1D and 3D LUTs, creative LUTs and technical LUTs and a whole LUT more.
In this post we'll look at some places you can download free PowerGrades for DaVinci Resolve to help get you to some smart looking grades, faster and a tutorial on deconstructing a LUT to recreate it as a PowerGrade.