September 10, 2014 at 10:08AM


Cutting & Coloring: How do YOU flow?

Everyone knows that pacing is important, but color grading and correction is also a vital and essential part to every production. So... how do YOU flow? I've been coloring still images professionally for some time now and have recently begun coloring video. The tools may not be the same between the two mediums, but the techniques and experience definitely carry over. I already have great experience in the editing room, preferring Adobe Premiere over FCP and AVID MC.

Here's my workflow. This discussion is intended to help people find one that works for them. So share yours!

1) I Import directly into Adobe Premiere and begin my rough cut. My rough cut does not include transitions, post-stabilization or coloring of any kind (unless I make minor corrections to remind me of my desired look)
2) I then make a copy of my rough-cut timeline and edit for pacing, again ignoring post-stabilization, transitions, and coloring. (Aside from these PP steps, this will be my absolute final cut.)
3) Export from Adobe Premiere to a Final Cut Pro XML file.
4) Create a new project in DaVinci Resolve and import my previously imported XML file. (For those that don't know, DaVinci Resolve is the industry standard coloring software and its LITE version is available free with minimal restrictions.) The reason for avoiding post-stabilization, transitions or pre-coloring in the steps above is because those changes are lost upon export to XML. I learned that the hard way my first time, and wasted a lot of time.
5) Complete my coloring in DaVinci Resolve. This makes for many discussions in and of itself.
6) "Deliver" using the Easy Set-Up "Final Cut Pro XML Round-Trip" Preset.
7) Import the XML from DaVinci Resolve back into Premiere Pro. It will import all your colored and exported files from DaVinci into your new project, so have a bin ready for everything.
6) Review your new post-coloring timeline. Time to add post-stabilization and desired transitions (If any, if you're George Lucas then you'll have a lot of transitions to add).
7) Review your new timeline and repeat any necessary steps.
8) Export in your desired format, and enjoy your cookies! Popcorn never was my favorite.

I am curious as to people's experiences using Adobe Prelude and their Speedgrade software. My experience with both has been negative, with Speedgrade crashing frequently. My computer is no sissy to say the least, so Speedgrade sped right into my trash bin.

Happy cutting!


What's exciting is that so many tools for doing the same job are at our disposal now for cheap!

3 years ago, I had one workflow: Picture lock, then XML to Apple Color. A flawed program that did a great job and was freely available as part of the Final Cut Suite.

Now, options are less clear. But that's been a great thing. I'm still figuring out what is best for given scenarios, but this has been my experience so far:

If a project has a deadline that allows more time:
After picture lock, do exactly what you said, except I "bake" all the clips that won't translate over to DaVinci, such as effects-heavy or Dynamic Link stuff.

If I have a project that requires rapid client review and delivery:
Either SpeedGrade or Colorista II, and grade as I go. That way, the client can see the look in every version of the project—no need to wait until picture lock to start grading.

This process is still evolving for me, and adding things like Neat Video or Film Convert throw another wrench in what used to be a straight-forward process. Now I have so many options, which is both awesome and stressful all at the same time!

Happy grading!

September 10, 2014 at 10:56AM

David S.

Great , Explained in Simple steps. What do you think, will this work for full length feature. I am trying speedgrade for my current release, I have done trailer of the movie so far. (By the way m using PC). Now suppose if I want to deliver my xml to coloring house which is not in network, what precautions I need to take so XML will load in there da vinci

September 15, 2014 at 10:56PM

Sachin Pandit

This is really interesting. I feel that I’m not very good at color grading. I can never seem to get it to look exactly like what I have in my head. I currently edit in Final Cut Pro X and use its built-in color grading options, which feel rather limited to me.

I didn’t realize that DaVinci Resolve had a free version available, I might give that a try. Although I tend to like grading after I’ve done a rough cut and then I go back-and-forth between finessing the edit and finessing the grade. I don’t think it’s a very good workflow, but as I get closer to locking down an edit I can’t stand looking at badly colored footage. It just doesn’t feel like it could be a final version of the film.

Thanks very much for explaining your workflow. I think I’ll give it a try!

September 29, 2014 at 10:59AM

Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor

are you test davinci ressolve?

September 29, 2014 at 11:46PM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

Since I posted here, SpeedGrade let me down again.

This has been the worst relationship of my life. We break up, she gets fancy new features from Creative Cloud, we get back together with the promise of easier, better, and more fulfilling times together—and then it's right back where we were before.

This on-again-off-again relationship is over. I've asked friends to never let me go back to SpeedGrade.

I spent a week color grading a project in SpeedGrade, dealing with crashes, etc., and after a week I had my fill. I updated Resolve to 11 (it's been a while since I've used it) and literally recreated the entire week's worth of work from SpeedGrade IN ONE DAY in Resolve.

The biggest time savers were overall stability and mask tracking.

I've seen the news online about the shiny new things SpeedGrade is getting this Fall, I'm going to be strong this time.

September 30, 2014 at 6:10AM

David S.

I've never needed more than luma curve and 3 way color corrector to do anything I ever needed to do with either FCP or PP.

December 27, 2014 at 8:55AM

Chris Santucci

You dint mention the camera that your are using.. but if it is any DSLR you might want to check 5dtoRGB since it gives you more color space so work with, specially since you are grading in Resolve ;)

January 24, 2015 at 1:24PM

93 studios
Camera - Editor - Director

Hi 93, I looked at their website and found that the latest Windows version of 5dtoRGB dates from 2011.
The quality from the Canon C100 prores HQ 220mbs is astonishing (with Ninja recording), even so is the quality of the AVCHD 25mbs files.
Do you think 5dtoRGB still might be interesting for Canon C100 AVCHD files?

April 10, 2015 at 2:55AM


I've used Prelude before, and I liked it, but then I did another project that required an unfortunately complicated sound syncing process and I just went straight into Premiere, which I have used as my editor of choice for a very long time.

For coloring, I used to go straight into Speedgrade, using Premiere's brightness/contrast thing to add a bit to flatter picture styles. Although I've turned to using FilmConvert as my base and then use Speedgrade over it. But FilmConvert does the bulk of the work.

The immediacy of it is the reason that I can't even bother with Resolve, unless something super complicated were to come along. I mean, everything I do in one instantly shows up in the other one. Literally zero extra work involved. That's amazing, and in and of itself makes the Creative Cloud workflow worth it for me. (I also use Adobe Story for writing my scripts, as well as Photoshop and Indesign for other things, so I get a lot some good use out of my subscription in general.)

Worth noting: I always use sliders when I'm in Speedgrade, because I like sliders. That makes me extremely excited about the Lightroom-esque features of the Premiere update. It's pretty much exactly what I want from a color corrector.

April 18, 2015 at 6:15PM

Alec Kubas-Meyer

Personally I hate Speedgrade too. Just tried it out, and, well, no. I'll stick to my RGB Curves in Premiere Pro for now... ;P

April 12, 2016 at 2:31AM


Import to FCPX, cut the rough draft and then grade using Color Finale built in to FCPX. Sometimes (most of the time) I'll color the really cool shots to keep my inspiration and excitement up as I continue to edit and grade the project.

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