How to color grade and apply LUTs to your stream in OBS Studio

Are you dissatisfied with your webcam or the camera colors in the stream? With free plugins and resources, you can fix that and turn even a cheap webcam into a fancy camera through color grading in OBS Studio.

Why use color grading and LUT?

Color grading and LUTs are tools photographers, videographers, and other creatives use to touch up their projects, fix blemishes, or add style. Normally, this process is reserved for publishing professionals, but they are applicable to even the most casual creators. Here’s why.

These tools can transform the visual style of an image, adding vibrancy and life. Color grading allows fine tuning of specific colors, while LUTs are effective color grading presets. However, the details of what LUTs are and how they are used are more complex. These can transform a photo or video from a neutral image to a stylized piece of art, which you can use to add personality to your Twitch stream.

Photo of color sorting wheels on a screen

Inexpensive webcams may not capture colors accurately, requiring color correction to improve accuracy. The color correction options available in most webcam programs, as well as OBS’s default filters, are generally insufficient to perform such corrections. Therefore, a more advanced color grading filter may be required for precise correction of problems, such as adjusting oversaturated tones to create accurate skin colors.

When multiple cameras and lenses are used in a production environment, color grading tools can allow their appearance to match in terms of white balance, exposure, and color. This is useful for streamers who use multiple camera angles in their stream.

Whether it’s to enhance and stylize an image, fix blemishes, or help match multiple cameras, color grading and using LUTs are vital steps in improving the visual quality of your photos, videos, and live streams.

The OBS Color Grading Plugin and Free LUT Resources

Color correction and LUTs are typically used in post-production, but live streamers can implement these tools in OBS using plugins and other downloadable resources to use these effects during broadcast.

The first plugin to consider is Xaymar’s StreamFX, which, among many other effects, includes an incredibly powerful color grading filter for video sources in OBS. You can adjust many aspects of red, green, and blue tones, including boost, gamma, gain, and offset, as well as the distribution of color between the shadows, midtones, and highlights. This allows full control of the color of an image.

Scroll to the bottom of the StreamFX page and click on Installation Guide to download and follow the provided guide to install.

Screenshot of the StreamFX Readme section

Next, current and recent versions of OBS Studio already support using LUTs as filters on video sources. The included LUT options are quite limited, so you can download additional stylized LUTs, like this free pack of 76 created by Jordan Wages on the OBS forums. Using color grading and LUTs together, you can create a great webcam image for live streaming.

Put these LUTs in a folder that you can easily access for use in OBS.

Screenshot of the LUT download page

It is also important to note that these filters will use additional system resources compared to using no effect. The impact isn’t huge, but it’s important to optimize streaming settings in OBS as much as possible to avoid frame drops and other issues.

Make a natural and neutral camera image

Before applying any color grading or LUTs to your webcam or camera in OBS, make sure that you have properly adjusted your settings. Color correction differs from color grading in that it neutralizes an image. You may not need as much correction with the OBS filters if you can start with a more ideal image.

See if your webcam has any proprietary software, such as Elgato Camera Hub, AVerMedia CamEngine, or Razer Synapse, then use it to edit your webcam image.

Webcam Software Configuration Example

Adjust the settings to make an image as accurate as possible, but be conservative with things like contrast and saturation, as you’ll want a more neutral image for your color grading in OBS. Your goal is to create an image that is both natural and neutral.

Most importantly, make sure your exposure and white balance are set to manual so any additional adjustments you make appear consistently without worrying about unexpected color shifts. If not, finish adjusting the webcam or camera settings to your liking.

How to grade color in OBS

Then add your webcam or camera to a scene in OBS as a video capture source. Right click on it, select filtersthen click the plus sign below the effect filters tab and select Scale of colors.

Your first goal with this step is to create a more neutral image. For example, your webcam’s white balance setting may allow you to change the temperature (orange to blue) but not the tint (magenta to green), and your webcam image may be slightly more magenta than expected. what would you like. To rectify this, experiment with decreasing the Gain sliders for red and blue or increase green.

Example image of using the color grading filter in OBS

Start small with your changes, and once you’ve made your image as neutral as you’d like, apply any smaller stylistic edits, but keep them minimal until you’ve applied a LUT. For example, if your skin looks dull or less saturated than it should, experiment with slightly lowering the blue while slightly increasing the red and green.

Here it is before the color grading:

Webcam before color grading and LUT

Here’s the same webcam after color grading – notice how the webcam’s magenta tint has been reduced:

Webcam with color grading but no LUT

Apply a LUT and make final corrections

Once you’ve corrected your webcam image to your liking, apply a LUT. In it filters window, once again click the plus icon and select Apply LUTs. Next, select your LUT of choice by navigating to the folder where you saved the LUT pack. In this example, we are using the VideoMark_Cinema01 preset.

At 100% this looks too stylized and should be scaled down.

Example image of too much intensity of LUT

On a webcam or camera without the dynamic color range of a nicer camera, lower the intensity of your LUT. The 20-40% range will generally be enough to style to your liking.

LUT Intensity Adjustment Example

Lastly, if you want to do some more fine tuning, go back to your Color Gradation filter and make small adjustments. Perhaps your skin color correction was ultimately unnecessary, or you’d like to adjust contrast, saturation, or lightness for a final touch of flair to your look.

If you use multiple cameras or webcams, also consider using these tools to help better match your colors for smoother transitions between camera angles, such as the example below comparing the AVerMedia PW515 webcam to a Sony a6600 rated for color using the same LUT.

Screenshot of example of color matching between cameras

It’s not a perfect match, nor is the example correction perfect, but it’s a significantly closer match than it would be without using color grading, and a solid improvement over using no effect at all.

Streaming is an art form

Whether it’s to improve your visual flair or correct visual imperfections, take some time to learn how to colorize your video. If you’re going to spend hundreds of hours streaming content live, it’s worth taking an extra hour to learn how to do it more artistically.

Don’t settle for the basics with your tools! Get acquainted with more OBS plugins to really improve your streaming production.