10 times better saturation under LUT (HSV trick)

A process of achieving a film-like saturation on your digitally shot footage that is more subtle, dense, and pleasing to the human eyes.


Hope you all are overflowing with ideas and beaming with imagination. In this blog, we will tell you about ‘Color saturation’, also known as ‘intensity’ or ‘chroma’ which is the dominant hue of a color.

The so-called “pure” colors tend to be located on the outside rim of the color wheel. 

The hue we’re using to describe the color becomes less and less prominent as you move toward the center of the wheel. Reaching the center of the wheel, no single color predominates. Hence desaturated hues are those found along the middle axis.

It is important to note that Color saturation ultimately is one of the three color properties, the other two being hue and value. The term hue refers to the color of the image itself, while saturation describes the intensity (purity) of that hue and value determines how a certain hue will look with a custom brightness value. 

Image credit – Ron Hipschman

In this blog, we will tell you the process of achieving a film-like saturation on your digitally shot footage that is more subtle, dense, and pleasing to the human eyes. 

So let’s dive into our tutorial blog! 

As you can see in the image below, the timeline that we are working on, we already have footage that has been color graded by using a LUT, specifically NEURO LUT from our ultimate colorist toolkit volume 3. 

Now, let us try and increase the saturation the normal way by using the saturation slider . You can see our shot has less color at this point, and our end goal is to get more winter-like blues in our image. So as soon as you increase the saturation you will notice there is now more color in the image. You can see we have our blues, and there is some noise in the image because of this, but overall it’s a good enough approach, to begin with. 

Now let’s grab a still for the comparisons later.  

Now, there exists an alternative approach that gives a much cleaner image and much denser color reproduction in terms of saturation. This helps you to achieve a film-like saturation on your digital image. 

In our alternate approach, we are going to, first of all, disable the current node which has saturation and then before this node we have an empty node, we are going to right-click and we are going to select the color space as “HSV” which is Hue, Saturation and Value Color space. This means Hue, Saturation and Value are now mapped to your RGB channels. And everything that manipulates RGB will now manipulate these three aspects of our image.

Now, we are going to right click again and select the channels and quickly disable the first channel and the third channel. What we essentially are doing here is we are disabling the hue and the value from the HSV channel so that only the ‘Saturation’ channel remains activated irrespective of what controls you are manipulating anywhere in the color  panel. 

Now, let’s return to the colour wheel, but rather than increasing the saturation, we’ll raise the gain. Typically, gain is utilized to increase the highlights. In this instance, however, since we are operating only one channel and that channel is saturation, the gain wheel will actually increase only the saturation in the shot. 

Moving on, this time when we increase the saturation, let’s increase the saturation to a comparable saturation range that we achieved earlier by using the saturation slider, and then we’ll compare it to the still that we captured previously.

As we compare these two saturated images you will notice that in our HSV tricked shot the saturation is increasing but it’s not adding a level of brightness to the pixels and that is why the colors are becoming dense like film saturation rather than becoming digital video-like saturated. 

That’s a big difference! As you see, this technique yields a dense color in the image and It appears more subtle, cinematic, and eye-pleasing. Not just that, but it’s a clean technique and results in the least breakage in the image. 

That’s it for this blog! Do try this technique and let us know in the comments which saturation you prefer.

We hope our blog helps you to discover your creative inspiration. So, until the next blog, find inspiration, make something great, contribute to the world’s beauty, and don’t forget to subscribe and follow colorist factory’s YouTube and Instagram pages.

6 Responses

    1. Thank you for this trick, this is what I was missing, add saturation but without increasing the brightness, brilliant 👍

  1. I’m actually amazed by this. I’m not a Colorist but I’ve been looking at alot of dull lifeless footage recently and this instantly gives back a sense of life. Also been experimenting using the value V part to influence the brightness off the shot gives great results for quick adjustments.

  2. HSV saturation is certainly better than the default additive saturation, but it still has problems. Would love to see a color scientist somewhere create a totally new CMY subtractive colorspace for us to operate in and use saturation there accordingly (I don’t get why Resolve hasn’t done this yet).

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