Look Files

The individual style with ARRI Look File 2

What you see is what you get, but with the freedom of Log C

In digital production one question is always present: “What does my image look like, when all that processing is done? Is it really what-you-see-is-what-you-get?” Yes, kind of!

As outlaid in our Color & Log C section, all ARRI cameras record in Log C wide gamut color space. The camera image core (CIC) utilizes a look file (ARRI Look File 2) to transform the flat and de-saturated image into a color-rich and pristine image.

This can happen in various ways. Most simple: using a conversion into HD or UHD color space (Rec 709 or Rec 2020 respectively). This is a straight, technical conversion. Some details in the highlights and blacks might be clipped.

When more advanced changes or an individual live color grading is requested, the CIC and ARRI Look File 2 are still the anchor-point of color manipulation. “On the Log C” image Color Decision List (CDL) parameters can alter the look of the image while the target color space is still Rec 709/Rec 2020.

When exchanged with a custom 3D LUT, not only color space conversion can be achieved but a full primary color correction.

Similar to other metadata like camera status information or lens meta data the look file travels in each clip’s file header. This means as long as you have the original file or a copy it is possible to extract the look file from it. Transcoding destroys all of the embedded metadata.

Looking at ALF-2 in, for example, ALEXA Mini, it plays a central role in a production’s camera department. ALF-2 gives the director, director of photography and costume department and a close idea about the final image:

We’ve linked a comprehensive guide to ARRI Look File 2 in the downloads.