Guides & Walkthroughs

How To Get Best Performance from Ludeman Productions LUTs for Z Cam

So Dan Ludeman, owner of Ludeman Productions, just dropped his newest LUT pack for Z Cam and your first question is probably; How do I get the best performance out of these amazing LUTs? Well as a thank you for sending me a couple of them to test & give feedback, I decided to surprise him with this guide for his customers on how to optimize a Z Cam and Adobe Premiere workflow to get the best performance.

Everything You Need To Get Started with Ludeman Produtions LUTs for Z Cam

This guide is written with a Premiere workflow because I only write what I know about, but if Davinci Resolve and FCPX users would like to contribute screen shots & instructions for those, I’m happy to add them as well.

  1. Ludeman LUT Pack of your choice

    Currently available packs are ZCAM LUT Bundle which includes both his Z Cam Base LUT pack and Z Cam Skin LUT pack. If you just want to experiment with a Z Cam workflow for free then you can download the official Z Cam Zlog LUTs or Vlog LUTs for ProRes RAW

  2. Preferred Editing Suite with Zlog Color Plugin installed

    Adobe Premiere with the ZRAW plugin is my preferred NLE but here are all Z Cam LUT Plugin redirect links for each software
    Windows Premiere | Windows OFX
    Mac Premiere | Mac OFX | FCPX (English) | FCPX (中文版)
    If you are new to the Z Cam LUT plugin, give this short video a watch to get up to speed

  3. Some Zlog footage

    For best performance while shooting in Zlog image profile, read this FAQ in my Z Cam Handbook and use the free monitoring LUTs made by James Davis from Exigent Films. Click here to explore sample footage to download & experiment with.
    ZRAW codec is 12 bit while H265 & ProRes are 10 bit, what this means in actual performance is more creative adjustments are possible with the color information captured in the ZRAW codec.

Since this is my first workflow guide I’m going to include some general information for users new to LUTs and Linear color in general, if you want to skip ahead to the workflow guide click here.

What is a LUT and Why Do I Need One?

Let’s be honest, log footage looks awful, but its supposed to, as that preserves the most color information. How the camera records in the Zlog image profile is not how it is meant to be viewed, and that’s where LUTs come in. I separate LUTs into 2 categories, monitoring LUTs like this Exigent Films LUT ZLOG to REC709 monitoring LUT Pack, and editing LUTs, like the Ludeman Productions LUT packs. Monitoring LUTs are usually x33 cube files which are much more lightweight than the x64 cube files, which are optimal for bringing out the most color information.

Which Ludeman Productions LUT Pack is Right For Me?

Let’s learn about each of the packs and the shooting scenarios each is optimally used for.

Z CAM E2 LUT Bundle

Includes both the E2 Base LUT pack and E2 Skin LUT pack, which you can read more about below.

Z CAM E2 Base LUT Pack

MED SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Base LUT

“Each LUT in this pack was created specifically for the Zcam Z-log color profile. My primary tests when creating the LUTs were with my lovely Zcam E2. I designed these LUTs to help me achieve proper exposure while I’m filming and grading while continuing to maintain a pleasing picture. Each LUT included has varying degrees of saturation and color. I find myself using MED most often.”

Dan Ludeman

In short, the Z CAM Base LUT Pack is a good general use series of LUTs to bring out rich colors from the Z Cam E2. I use it when I care more about vivid colors than I do realistic skin tones. This pack includes the following

  • LOW SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Base LUT
  • MED SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Base LUT
  • HIGH SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Base LUT

Z CAM E2 Skin LUT Pack

I’ve always loved warm, pink, and creamy skin tones. I designed The ZCAM Skin LUT Pack with this in mind. Just like the ZCAM Base LUT pack, the green and red channels for these LUTs have also been modified. The ZCAM Skin LUT Pack is my go-to for filming weddings on my ZCAM Cameras.

Dan Ludeman

This LUT pack is my go to when I want to bring out a subject’s skin tones while not overwhelming the image. I prefer it in warm lighting rather than the overcast image above, as that brings out the the warm skin tones. Included in this pack are the following

  • LOW SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Skin LUT
  • MED SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Skin LUT
  • HIGH SAT – Z-log Ludeman_709_Skin LUT

Ludeman Productions Zlog LUTs Adobe Premiere Workflow Guide

When it comes time to color, grade, and apply your creative LUTs a workflow that utilizes the Z Cam LUT plugin will get most accurate color information compared to one that doesn’t. Does that mean that you can’t get good performance out of Dan’s Zlog LUTs without using that? No, but I want to show how I get the most performance out of these amazing LUTs. With that said let’s learn how to use the Ludeman LUTs in Linear color space.

1) Apply ZlogColor to Zlog Clip in timeline

Searching for “Zlog” in the Effects tab in Premiere is the fastest way to bring it up
When you apply the ZlogColor plugin, the default Output Color Space is Zlog_ax2, which is very similar to an Arri, and a great starting point for custom cinematic grades, but not the Color Space Ludeman Production LUTs are designed for. To account for this we need to…

2) Select Zlog in “Output Color Space” Setting

Note that Input color space at the top is what the footage was SHOT IN and Output color space should be set to your creative LUTs base image profile. Dan’s Z Cam LUTs base image profile is Zlog, so select Zlog2 for output
ZLog Image Profile Recorded in camera converted to Zlog Output Color Space, see the difference? You shouldn’t because there is none, but this is a very vital step, it allows us to make the basic exposure corrections in the linear color space, which will give best performance out of ZLog footage.

3) Apply a LUT in Premiere Lumetri Creative Panel

Note how my Basic Correction tab in Lumetri is not even on. This is an extra step I go to, to ensure all my basic corrections are done in the linear color space.

This will help you gauge how much to adjust each slider in the next step.

4) Make Linear Color Space Adjustments in ZlogColor settings

This step is for basic correction to adjust your footage to recover highlights and to adjust the darks in linear color space without adding noise. Making corrections in the Linear color space instead of in the Lumetri panel will get you the most accurate color information as possible before getting creative with your colors.

Watch this video where Kinson from Z Cam explains what all the slider adjustments in Z Cam’s Linear Color Plugin will impact
Even on well shot footage this basic correction will make a difference towards the final grade.

5) Make Creative Adjustments in Lumetri Panel

And Grade to your liking
All credit for this final grade goes to Dan Ludeman, who took the time to grade this gorgeous still frame.

This is the step where you get to bring out your stylistic grade. I’m not experienced enough myself to give instructions for what each setting will do, but will update as I learn it from those who do. For now play around and experiment and be sure to share your grades on YouTube and the Z Cam E2 Facebook Group.

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