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Burning Question: How Can I Input ASC-CDL Values into After Effects?

Burning Question CDL Image credit: Melanie Hughes @nutsycoco

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

From Wikipedia:

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.

Download Prolost CDL

Read more about the ASC-CDL

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.

Featured Image Credit: Melanie Hughes @nutsycoco

Posted by Michele Yamazaki