Skylum Updates Luminar 2018 Raw Processor/Image Editor with Artificial Intelligence-Driven AI Sky Enhancer

While it seems that most Australian professional photographers of my acquaintance depend on Adobe Bridge’s Camera Raw module in conjunction with Photoshop as their first choice for raw processing and imaged editing, followed by Adobe Lightroom in order of popularity, there are alternative products and alternative software companies.

One of the most creative is Skylum, formerly named Macphun, maker of Aurora HDR and Luminar, the first a high dynamic range image merging and editing application and the second a raw image processing and image editing application the features of which are ever-growing and unlike any other image editor in their scope and innovation. 

Luminar 2018 recently gained an artificial-intelligence driven feature, the AI Sky Enhancer, and the long-awaited major update, Luminar with Libraries, due sometime in December 2018, will add sync and batch editing, image organizing, rating, labelling and tagging to improve Luminar’s photo management and editing editing workflow.  

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Skylum Luminar AI Sky Enhancer filter applied to a Fujifilm X-Pro2 raw file of a local landscape after initial processing with Iridient X-Transformer. Photograph © copyright Karin Gottschalk 2018. All rights reserved.

Ever since Apple signalled the coming end of its support for Aperture, one of the best media management, picture sorting and editing, raw processing and image editing applications ever, relied upon by photographers as well as picture editors, magazine publishers, advertising agencies, deign firms and more, photographers have been searching for a direct replacement and the available solutions have been found wanting to various degrees.

Since then I have tried a number of media management applications and modules built into raw processing and image editing software and none of them have filled the bill in exactly the way I need them to.

Skylum has verb working on a media management solution aka library for Luminar for some time and it looks like it will finally make its appearance soon.

I cannot want to try it out and with luck it will be the media manager cum image library I have been after for all these years.

Skylum Luminar 2018 AI Sky Enhancer Before and After

How Does AI Sky Enhancer Work?

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Sky detection & object recognition: With the help of our deep neural network, Luminar analyzes the image and detects the sky. This neural network had been trained using hundreds of thousands of images with different amounts and different types of sky, whether it’s a tiny patch of blue peeking through a skylight, a cloudy sky flaunting sunset colors, or a dark, ominous sky signaling a storm.
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Semantic Segmentation: Once image analysis is complete, Luminar performs what we call semantic segmentation, separating the image into different layers, based on the semantic and contextual meaning of the objects it detects. This analysis allows the most precise and intelligent sky enhancement with minimal noise, halos, and negative impact on other areas of the image. The AI detects objects in the foreground, defines edges, and analyzes the textures and tones of the sky itself. The deep neural network that powers AI Sky Enhancer had been trained using thousands of real life examples we’ve either taken ourselves or obtained from other professional photographers.
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Smart masking: Following sky detection and segmentation, Luminar applies an automatic mask to the sky that’s invisible to you as the user. When you move the slider to the right, you only notice how the sky becomes more and more beautiful. Just like a professional photographer, AI Sky Enhancer treats different images differently. It applies a custom set of adjustments to a sky, depending on its look. This means that a blue sky will get a treatment far different from a grey sky, and a sunset sky will be enhanced differently from a mid-morning one.

LUTs in Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019

I have been developing an approach to portrait photography based on five to seven bracket images batch processed in Iridient X-Transformer then merged in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with maximum image editing done in Aurora’s 16-bit colour space including applying film emulation and looks LUTs.

This has only been possible in the way I have long envisaged it since the release of Aurora HDR 2019 and its amazing realistic automatic tone-mapping, a huge evolutionary leap beyond previous versions of Aurora HDR and other HDR software I have used over the years.

The addition of the LUTs feature in both items of Skylum software is welcome as I have assembled an enormous collection of camera profile, film emulation and looks LUTs over the years and enjoy applying the film emulation LUTs in particular to portraits.

The challenge when editing with LUTs is to choose exactly the right one, or two or more of them in combination, to communicate the information and emotions I visualized for the finished image when I made the exposure.

Right now selecting that one or more perfect LUT from a big collection of them is a time-consuming process of trial and error, loading and looking, rejecting then choosing again.

Some video editing applications and colour grading applications and plug-ins have LUT library previewing capabilities that speed up the processing of choosing the best LUT for the job and I want to see the same functionality added to Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019.

In illustration, the above three portraits have been graded with three different film emulation LUTs, one from a medium-sized collection and the other two from a far bigger set of LUTs.

Choosing the looks I wanted took far too long and I skipped over thousands of other possible candidates.

Small previews of how each LUT would render the image would have sped up the process considerably.

Links

Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One 801 for Panasonic Cameras including Lumix GH5 and GH5S is Available, More Versions to Come

We have been following Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming’s progress in creating, refining and updating his Leeming LUT One unified, corrective Look Up Table aka LUT system for popular mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras and camcorders ever since we launched the ‘Untitled’ project. 

Leeming LUT One began as an effort to transform the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4’s ‘Cine-D’ aka Cinelike D video picture profile into the most accurate, most realistic rendering possible and has expanded to encompass a range of cameras including those made by Canon, DJI, GoPro, JVC, Sony and more, with support for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Fujifilm X-T3 and others coming in the near future. 

Mr Leeming continues to refine Leeming LUT One with version 801 for Panasonic being the most accurate yet, setting a new industry benchmark for realistic colour rendering for video footage shot with the Cinelike D, V-LogL and HLG profiles for editing in Rec. 709 movie projects. 

Recently I put Leeming LUT One 801 to the test with Cinelike D footage from my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera, the one that goes with me almost everywhere everyday, and the results were, as usual, impressive.

Better yet, correcting footage with Leeming LUT One then adding film simulation or creative looks LUTs produces rich grading with a lush and easy-to-grade tonal range.

Many independent moviemakers shoot video for the same project on several cameras including within multi-camera interview set-ups, and Leeming LUT One is invaluable in reducing time in the colour grading suite matching footage from all those different cameras, especially when exposed according to the principles of ETTR aka expose-to-the-right.

In all the following examples, I graded quickly and minimally to simulate the look and feel of the subject at the moment I shot it, to be as realistic as video permits.

Skin tones in mixed available light with Leeming LUT One 801 and LookLabs’ Digital Film Stock Fujifilm Eterna 500T

Reds, greens and blue in strong sunlight with Leeming LUT One 801 and Leeming LUT Quickies v8 Basic Balanced v8 Lighter

Greys and greens in weak sunlight on cold, windy day with Leeming LUT One 801 and LookLabs Digital Film Stock Kodak 5218

Links

  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
  • LookLabsDigital Film Stock aka DFS – “DFS instantly gives you the natural look of film and the most flexible set of LUTs on the market. The DFS bundle includes 19 LUTs that perfectly emulate the most popular Kodak and Fuji film stocks. DFS comes in both REC.709 and LOG video formats and all SpeedLooks camera patches work with today’s most popular digital cinema and mirrorless cameras. DFS even makes your Android videos look like film!”

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

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