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From Import to Output: An In-Depth Guide to the Adobe Speedgrade CC Workflow

Seedgrade CCColor grading is one of those practices where an in-depth knowledge of your software is absolutely essential to get the job done right. While DaVinci Resolve is quickly becoming the gold standard for grading applications, Adobe users have an extremely powerful alternative in Speedgrade CC, which now has the ability to roundtrip with Premiere much in the same way that other Adobe programs do. One of our readers, Dave Andrade, sent me an excellent tutorial that walks us through the entire process of grading inside of Speedgrade, from small exposure adjustments to output and everything in between.

Here’s the tutorial, which walks you through the entire process of using Speedgrade CC. It’s a little lengthy, so if you’re interested in a certain topic, check out the list below the video and navigate to the proper spot. Oh, and if you’re fan of zombies, you’ll definitely love this.

1:00 - Setting up the scene
3:31 - Scene detection
7:30- Setting exposure
12:10 - Creating masks
15:15 - Secondary layers
22:33 - Object Tracking
26:26 - Isolating luma ranges (shadows/mids/highlights)
29:55 - Creating “looks”
33:23 - Rendering out

One of the things that stuck me most while watching this video is just how powerful and versatile Speedgrade can be, especially with its ability to ability to detect, manipulate, and track a multitude of fine luma and chroma values all independently of one another. The tracking features are what surprised me the most, as I was under the impression, for whatever misguided reason, that Speedgrade’s tracking algorithms were inferior to the other programs. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, although the tracking from Dave’s video is nothing too crazy.

While I’m still madly in love with DaVinci Resolve, the interface, tools, and workflow for Adobe Speedgrade are quickly growing on me as I learn more about the program and its legitimately deep feature set. Additionally, as somebody who has been cutting with Premiere for the past few years, the time savings from the “direct link” between Premiere and Speedgrade might just provide enough incentive for me to make the jump to Speedgrade CC.

What do you guys think of Dave’s Speedgrade workflow? Have you used this software, and if so, what have your workflows been? Let’s here your thoughts down in the comments!

Link: Dave Andrade — YouTube


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  • Adobe SpeedGrade CC keeps getting better and better and will continue to do so. With more and more people using Premiere, as I have seen happening, it will be a great option for many to turn to.

    One thing it has going for it is the Direct Link which really does obviate the conform thereby cutting time significantly for high turnover jobs.

    Having said all that, SpeedGrade has got some really tough competition from DaVinci Resolve. Conforming in Resolve has always been a pain, and even a good conform usually requires a lot of manual work. However, it has improved in V9 and V10 and I hope BMD continues to refine and enhance the conform tools in Resovle.

    Both great tools and super useful for filmmakers today.

    • Do you think SpeedGrade will get to use Mocha for tracking like After Effects can do?

    • I just wrapped my final project with Premiere and Speedgrade. I’ve been using Premiere off and on for 11 years and Speadgread since before Adobe acquired it. And I have to say I think I’m done with both of them. They are good tools but they just aren’t good enough. Adobe is soooooo slow to innovate. I feel like they have been playing catch up for years now. Like you said they are getting better. But now that DaVinci Resolve 10.1 has rolled out a NLE built in, I’m going to be putting some serious hours into learning what it can do. FCX fumbled the ball, rumor has it Avid is having money problems, and Adobe’s main focus is getting our credit card numbers to run every month. I think Resolve could rise above to be the NLE and color tool of choice if they play their cards right.

      • I love Resolve and its part of my Premiere workflow, but calling Resolve an NLE at this stage is ridiculous.

        • Not as ridiculous as you’d think. Seriously go check it out right now. It’s free, I think you’ll be very surprised at what they’ve done adding the edit tab. It’s a no frills NLE but when coupled with the color and conform tools.. it’s no joke. They could own the market in the next five years.

          • They’re already half way there… I predict that Resolve will be a full on NLE by NAB 2015… by NAB 2016, it will have advanced compositing tools augment its current basic compositing toolset.

            I mean, for the most part, they’ve maxed out the color grading tools. There aren’t many other color grading software features that Resolve does not have. Now it’s just a matter of adding the remaining NLE features and improving their already decent compositing toolset.

            I actually think that Resolve is heading more in the direction of Smoke, which is a finishing tool, but is also used by many as a one-stop app for editing, color and compositing.

            If they keep it up, Resolve is going to be putting some companies out of business in the next couple years. I’d say Avid and Smoke would be the most likely to go. Avid is already in really bad shape… Adobe and Apple will survive just fine though because they offer so much else…

            Speaking of which, I think Apple will take the BMD route in the next year or two by offering FCPX, Motion and Logic for free, so as to incentivize adoption of their hardware. I mean, they’ve already dropped their professional software prices dramatically, iWork too, and now OSX is free and will continue to be so…

            How can software-only companies compete against free?

          • I tried the edit side of resolve as part of my footage ingest process for 10 days solidly on the Australian Open and its way too rudimentary at this stage to call an NLE.

            I love resolve but I will stick to editing in Premiere for now.

      • over 130 additions from 3 major updates in 1 year is too slow? But I digress. If your looking for another NLE try lightworks or Edius, if you got the cash smoke could be an alternative too.

        • I don’t dispute that they do up date. But it’s more often then not reactive, and some times buggy. I don’t really want to bash Premiere.. so I’ll stop. They have given me years of use, I think I’m just looking for something else. And like you’ve pointed out there is no lack of options out there.

  • No one seems to be talking about how clumsy the interface of SpeedGrade is. I’ve been working with the CC suite for 5 months now and just can’t get used to it. I would much rather go through the multi-step process of getting my footage from Premier to Resolve because Resolve is way more user friendly.

    I’m not complaining just to complain. I really hope Adobe can revamp SpeedGrade to really hold up to its name. Give me bigger controls (why are my color wheels so small?) and a cleaner interface. I would love to add it to my workflow, but for now, its just not worth the time to get used to it.

    • I agree. The colour wheels are too small and fiddly and its no good on a laptop screen.

    • Getting a control surface changed everything for me. I grade on the Tangent Wave now – and while it’s not perfect, it speeds things up SIGNIFICANTLY. I barely touch the mouse.

      That being said, you shouldn’t have to spend thousands on a control surface to make a program useable. I agree with the above, SpeedGrade’s interface is fairly lousy if you’re using a mouse and keyboard. Hopefully they continue to improve – dynamic link is a huge step in the right direction.

  • Daniel Rutledge on 01.23.14 @ 11:03PM

    Competition is good, but it just reminds me of how I didn’t realize how clumsy Color was until I used Resolve. I’m sorry, but if you haven’t used resolve since version 10 came out, then you should do yourself a favor. The 10.1 update makes for perfect round tripping with fcpx 10.1. I feel like adobe is getting things wrong with “suite bloat.” There’s SG and Prelude and Audition. To me it is just distracting. I feel like you pay all this extra money for the “suite” of tools that you don’t want or need. I feel like they should just add features to premiere an AE, drop the price, and let me decide which dedicated piece of software (from a company that does it better) that I want to spend my money on. Honestly, I think that this is where apple got it right when they kill the “suite.”

    • Audition gets no respect, since my shop is on a tight software budget, we use Audition and it works great, when you add the Izotope plugins, that I would use even if I were using protools, it does what I need it to do quickly and efficiently.

  • Been wanting to learn this program. This should prove handy, thanks for posting!

  • I would also love to see Resolve turn into a one-stop shop for editing and finishing, but, for what it’s worth, I spoke with a tech at Black Magic a few days ago about that.

    Me: “There’s a lot of folks out there hoping Resolve becomes a full-fledged NLE.”

    Tech: “We have no plans, currently, to make that a reality.”

  • I wouldn’t doubt if Resolve grows into a NLE. It’s no different than what Adobe is doing adding Speedgrade only coming from the opposite direction. Maybe Blackmagic should buy Avid……

  • Teuvo Pakkanen on 01.24.14 @ 8:11AM

    No mention that Speedgrade is completely broken for people with 2 GPU’s and has been since 7.2 was released? Still loving that 2 gpu macpro?

    • Tuevo… what do you mean its broken for peeps with 2 gpu’s? im thinking about buying the mac pro soon, im under the impression that adobe software will just use one gpu when it cant use both?

    • It’s not completely broken… But definitely mostly broken. Go into your project settings and switch from Mercury Playback to Software Only playback. See if that lets you work… And cross your fingers that Adobe updates this soon.

  • I will also agree that Speedgrade’s interface is probably it’s weakest link, but what most people are not talking about is how fast premiere pro can render it’s effects.

    I’ve been able to achieve a better result with Speedgrade over Colorista 2, MB Looks, and Cosmo combined, in a fraction of the rendering time. 16.5 Hour Render time dropped to a 3.5 hour Render time. Thats pretty good.

  • Anthony Marino on 01.24.14 @ 1:03PM

    Degrain works pretty good, overall so far impressive. I’m not a professional colorist but I’m able to achieve more color detal and some of the LUTS are a good starting point. No problems interfacing with PP either.

  • SG is great b/c of the direct link. I can go back and forth in no time at all. Works great for adding good looks for web shorts(5 min or so). They key is to set up blank adjustment layers in premiere that let you apply looks to whole scenes, angles, and an overall look in SG since the prproj import won’t let you add any extra layers.

  • Oh you mean the program, as mentioned above, that is completely useless to people with 2 GPUs like myself?

    I can’t believe how long I’ve been unable to even open this program. Not that it was ever good but I hear it’s getting better and would’ve loved to have tried.

  • I used SpeedGrade in September (before the direct link upgrade) to color my dramatic narrative short, and I absolutely loved it. It was the end of a Magic Bullet process for me. I easily exported an EDL, painlessly linked to my media, used stills from favorite films that I up-rezzed in photoshop side by side to guide my looks, and exported a properly cropped 2.39-1 (for DCP) DPX sequence that I brought back into Premiere into a new sequence where I treated it as an “online” and added titles, a bit of warp stabilizer, etc. And I did all of this on a Macbook Pro laptop – no problem.

    I actually like the EDL workflow, but I’m glad there are two ways to go now. For me, Premiere + Speed Grade was everything I needed and could hope for – and I came from FCP 7. Cheers.

  • Jason Capobianco on 01.30.14 @ 10:03PM

    So many complaints. We’ve made better movies with much less software in the past. Just get on with it. Tell a good story.