Burning Question: How Can I Input ASC-CDL Values into After Effects?
What is a CDL?
CDL is short for Color Decision List. In a word, it’s a standard from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) to help software talk to each other about basic color correction data
The American Society of Cinematographers Color Decision List (ASC CDL) is a format for the exchange of basic primary color grading information between equipment and software from different manufacturers. The format defines the math for three functions: Slope, Offset and Power. Each function uses a number for the red, green, and blue color channels for a total of nine numbers comprising a single color decision. A tenth number, Saturation, specified in the Version 1.2 release, applies to the R, G, and B color channels in combination.
The Solution: Prolost CDL
The free Colorista plug-in from Red Giant no longer works in After Effects 2019 and later. Although there’s no free Colorista plug-in anymore, there is a solution. Introducing Prolost CDL! In short, Prolost CDL is a free preset from Stu Maschwitz at Prolost that allows users to type CDL values right into After Effects.
Prolost CDL uses two Levels of effects and a Color Balance (HLS) effect to recreate the CDL color transforms. If you delete or re-order these effects, the color adjustment will not be accurate. The expressions that link the CDL values to the effects are simple and left un-obfuscated for your perusal.
This is a preset for After Effects. In other words, download it and put it in your User Presets Folder. If you need it for Premiere Pro, to clarify, there’s already a built-in effect for this, Stu explains on his blog.
Indeed, thanks to Stu for creating and giving away this tool.
Read more about the ASC-CDL
- What Is A CDL And When Do You Use It? – Ryan Nguyen at MixingLight.com goes into nice detail about the CDL.
- Working With ASC-CDL and 3D-LUT – from the LiveGrade Pro blog
- An overview of the ASC CDL – at the American Society of Cinematographers website
- An In-Depth Look at ASC-CDL Based Color Controls – Pomfort
- Color Decision List Explained – Color theory – Lowepost
- CDLs in Action and Roundtripping Through DaVinci Resolve
Systems that support CDL
There’s a very long list at the Wikipedia entry above but here are a few that we have at Toolfarm, or others which you may already be using.
- Assimilate SCRATCH
- Avid Media Composer
- Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
- Blender Color Balance Node
- FilmLight Baselight, FilmLight Prelight ON-SET
- FireFly Cinema, Firefly Cinema FirePost
- Pomfort LiveGrade & Pomfort Silverstack products
- RE:Vision Effects RE:Grade
- SGO Mistika
- Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse
Featured Image Credit: Melanie Hughes @nutsycoco
Posted by Michele Yamazaki