In Part Three we looked at how to import footage and EDLs into Speedgrade. In this final part, we’ll look at two important workflows:
- Round-tripping with Adobe Premiere Pro
- Exporting for Dailies, Proxies and Intermediaries
Round-tripping with Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe has incorporated seamless round-tripping workflows in most of its seasoned apps. Speedgrade is a new addition, and doesn’t enjoy the same fringe benefits. Yet, Speedgrade is hardly available as a standalone application, and it is mostly going to be paired with Adobe Premiere Pro.
To a certain extent, Adobe has tried to ease the pain by defining a round-tripping workflow between Premiere Pro and Speedgrade.
To be blunt, the round-tripping as we know it is non-existent. At best one can call it a workaround. Here are the basic steps:
- Import source footage into Speedgrade.
- Apply first-light color corrections if necessary.
- Render out proxies and import into Adobe Premiere Pro (more later).
- When your edit is locked, export an EDL.
- Import the EDL into Speedgrade.
- Conform the EDLs by loading the source reels as explained in Part Three.
- Color correct or grade the source files.
- Render out a file format, preferably DPX.
- Bring that into a finishing app for titling, etc.
One could argue that the same workflow applies to any third-party application, so why should Speedgrade be given any preference? Unless you are limited by Adobe Creative Cloud, and don’t have access to other apps, it is hard to argue that Speedgrade offers the ultimate workflow. It doesn’t.
Exporting for Best Quality
There is no way to leave Speedgrade without exporting or rendering your projects. For some strange reason, the export tab (called Output in Speedgrade) is way over to the right, just before the Settings tab. When you click it, you get this (click to enlarge):
The Output section is fairly basic:
- N – Output section
- O – Framing section
- P – Render section
The Output section of the output tab (this is the second time Speedgrade has the same word for two things – the first being timeline) is where you choose the output file name and codec type.
Under Format & Options, if you choose Other…, you get the following window:
Why are there two ways to get to codecs? I can only assume a quick programming patch was used, just to get it to work. No point deliberating over it. It is what it is.
You can export to most image sequences, but not to RAW formats. As far as MOV is concerned, you have a wide choice of codecs (why no MPEG-2??). Some important ones are:
- JPEG 2000
- Motion JPEG
- Prores 4444
- 10-bit YUV uncompressed, AJA and Blackmagic
- 10-bit RGB uncompressed, AJA and Blackmagic
The second section, Framing, allows you to choose whether you want to render proxies (low resolution files) or dailies/intermediaries (fancy words for export format). You can export from standard definition all the way to 4K (limit for proxies, perhaps? Otherwise there is no limit to resolution).
The third section, Render, has a confusing second-guessing step. If we’ve already selected proxy in Framing, why do we need to tick Online Quality or Offline Quality again? According to the Speedgrade manual, it doesn’t make much of a difference, so you could choose either. Try a sample file using both settings, and go with what you think is best.
When you export for best quality, the best bet is DPX or TIFF. I prefer TIFF. If you’re exporting for VFX, then you might want to consider OpenEXR.
As far as output quality is concerned, the uncompressed options are all world class.
How to create Proxies
There’s a curious little button called ‘M’ next to the file name. This is the preset metadata tag format, which is critical for naming proxies. By following the standard, you can ensure relinking them to the original source footage will go smoothly. Speedgrade suggests you use the Src.PathElement.0 format for proxies. This does two things:
- Splits the timeline into MOV files
- Gives the proxies the same name as the source files for easy re-linking
The next step is to choose Source from the Time Code Source drop down. This ensures the proxies match the source footage.
All you have to do next is choose your proxy format and hit Render.
Note: Speedgrade makes no mention in its manual about the other metadata preset settings. I haven’t dared to use it, and I hope Adobe will release a more detailed manual with full explanations once they have revamped the entire app.
Saving and Opening your Project
Remember, in Part One, I asked that you tick the Autosave on under Settings? The session you are currently working on will be preserved even if you quit Speedgrade and return at a later time.
However, you will want to save your project when you want to open another one. To do this, you click the second icon at the top left:
You choose a name and destination, and save a .IRCP project file. To open the file, click the first icon in the above image, and that’s all there is.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this four-part crash course, and I hope I have clarified many things that should have been explained clearly in the manual. I hope this guide has cleared away a few misconceptions and given birth to some respect for Speedgrade.
You see, it was, and is an industry powerhouse, and Adobe bought it for good reason. If and when the full integration and round-tripping with Premiere Pro and After Effects arrives, the others better watch out!