Ever heard of CGA? Color Graphics Adapter by IBM? It was cutting edge video graphics in 1981. This was a video card for pcs that was capable of generating over 100 artifact colors using a 16 color pallet and some perception tricks, but few remember that. Most people think of CGA for its basic color pallet, dubbed Pallete #1, which had Black, Cyan, Magenta, and White. Keep in mind most PCs back then had only two colors: Black and White (or black and Yellow, or black and Green) based on what kind of CRT monitor was attached to the computer. Even though CGA had a ton of colors available, they basically never got used and now CGA is mostly just remembered as Black, Cyan, Magenta, and White – it’s Pallete #1.
Back then no computer could run actual video in CGA because that would have required a ton of processing power which they never had. That didn’t stop me from trying to make a video that looked like it was running on a CGA monitor in the 1980’s though.
Turns out, it’s harder to do that than you might think. Until now, no one had made a consistently easy way to do color conversions of 4k video to CGA without having to compile beta programs or render out all the frames of a video and convert them to index color for reassembly. It was a total pain.
So, I said to myself, “Jon, Adobe implemented Look Up Tables in their recent versions of Photoshop and Premiere; and Look Up Tables just reassign color values based on a perceptual arrangement of colors. Maybe you could make a LUT that changes video and graphics to CGA Pallete#1! That way anyone could use it and render time would be negligible. ” I set to work to do just that.
I had many failures along the way and some setbacks that made this whole idea seem valueless, but I wanted to finish it to prove I could. Plus, it’s kinda cool looking and hadn’t really been done before in a way that everyone could use.
There are a ton of videos on Youtube that cover the creation of Look Up Tables, LUTs, for use in Adobe CC and Lumetri. The video above will not cover the how-to of making these LUTs. Instead, I’m just going to give away my work to you for free and the video and this transcription will tell you how to apply the LUTs to your photos or videos in either Photoshop CC 2018 or Premiere CC 2018. LUTs like these will work in other versions of the Adobe programs and other Lumetri products, but I’m going to assume most of you know how to use LUTs in your preferred programs.
If you’re new to LUTs, just think of them like really powerful filters. I won’t be getting into any math or anything difficult here, so don’t worry. Pause the video as I go through the steps if you need to catch up because I’m not going to repeat anything or slow down.
The following is a link to a zip file containing several LUTs and special PNG graphics. Did I mention: They’re Free?!!
Unpack the Zip wherever you like using the password GAC2017LUT80. Don’t forget where you put them. Now! let’s try these out in Photoshop and Premiere.
To load a LUT into Photoshop, just open your project file and create a new “Color Lookup” adjustment layer. Open the 3DLUT drop-down menu and click “Load 3D LUT”. Browse to where you unpacked my freebies and select your favorite CUBE file. CUBE is the extension of the LUT file, so you may not see CUBE if you have extensions hidden in your OS. The names of the files are really descriptive, so choose the LUT you want to try and let’s continue.
As soon as you load the LUT it applies a non-destructive color alteration to your project. Assuming you loaded the adjustment layer at the top of your previous layers, you will have a garish representation of whatever LUT color variant you’ve chosen.
Included in that zip that you got from me are a couple extra files to complete “the look”. There are different CRT scan-line simulations that you can choose from based on your desired end result. Just place the scan-lines png in “Overlay mode” on top of your new LUT layer. This should get you started on that vintage 80’s PC look. For good measure, encapsulate the PSD project layers into a smart object under the LUT layer and apply a Mosaic smart filter to that new object. In Photoshop you can adjust the size of the Mosaic block to match your chosen CRT-Lines overlay for a more accurate image breakup and digital look. By the way, you can use this method with motion graphics, animations, and video in Photoshop too.
Now on to Premiere –
To apply the LUT in Premiere, load up your footage in your sequence, head to your Lumetri color grading section and open the Creative accordion panel. Click on the drop-down “Look” menu and browse to where you unpacked the zip that you downloaded from me. Pick your CUBE of choice and it will apply that LUT to whatever clip you had selected. Apply a Mosaic filter with 320 Horizontal blocks and 200 Vertical blocks to your working footage. I like the Sharp colors look for this application too. Next, load the Scan-lines file of your choice into your project and drag it on top of your newly color graded footage. In the Scan-line file’s effects panel choose “Overlay” as the blend mode. You’ll find blend modes in the Opacity section.
Well… sort of. You’ll likely want to tweak your source footage basic coloring a little bit to make these LUTs really pop. These LUTs create a really high-contrast look and you may lose some detail if your source footage has flat colors. Experiment with it. Have fun!
If you enjoy these LUTs and make something cool with them, share a link to your project in the comments and don’t forget to tell people to come watch this video and get their Free Vintage 80’s PC LUTs here!
Subscribe to the channel on YouTube and keep grasping at creativity!