The Adobe Premiere Pro to SpeedGrade Workflow

Adobe Premiere Pro can directly export projects to Adobe Speedgrade, and any color corrections that happen in Speedgrade are carried back to Premiere Pro. All this happens with zero transcoding. This tutorial explains this workflow.

If you’re new to Premiere Pro or Speedgrade, start by reading:

Exporting a project from Adobe Premiere Pro to Adobe Speedgrade CC

Once you’ve locked your edit, all you need to do is select the sequence you want to export and go to File > Direct Link to Adobe Speedgrade….

Save Premiere Pro Project b4 Speedgrade

Click Yes, and the project will be saved. Speedgrade will launch (if it isn’t already open). Note: If you’re already working on a project in Speedgrade, you must save it first before the new project can open dynamically. The project will close in Premiere Pro. It doesn’t work like Premiere Pro and After Effects yet.

The timeline will reflect how it looked like in Premiere Pro:

Speedgrade Timeline after Premiere Import

All the dissolves and effects are present. Even titles are carried over. How cool is that?

What you’re doing is, you’re working with *.prproj project files directly within Speedgrade. Your project takes you immediately to the Look tab, and all other tabs that you’d normally have on a Speedgrade project (*.ircp) are greyed out.

Look Tab Speedgrade after Import

It’s plain that you’re limited to using only the color grading features of Speedgrade, and nothing else. However, there’s hardly anything you can do in Speedgrade that won’t reflect back in Premiere Pro. The entire workflow feels like Speedgrade is just a plug-in within Premiere, except it just opens to a bigger window.

Grading RAW in Adobe Speedgrade CC

Speedgrade has some new 3D LUTs (*.cube) format as of this writing:

  • BMC (Blackmagic Cinema Camera?) RAW, Prores and DNxHD
  • Alexa Log to DCI P3 and Rec. 709
  • Canon 1DC
  • Canon C300
  • Canon DSLRs
  • Sony F55 (AXS and SR)
  • Nikon D800
  • GoPro
  • Phantom
  • RED

The major problem with these LUTs is they are LUTs, not substitutes to RAW color science. Do not expect the in-camera settings you get with Resolve or Redcine-X Pro. The good news is that CinemaDNG RAW files can be graded directly within Speedgrade via Adobe Premiere Pro. You must first select a LUT(s) as a starting point (can be created in Resolve Lite) and then commit to it.

The bad news is that there’s no way to remove the baked-in LUT (it’s not really baked-in, but neither Premiere Pro nor Speedgrade can read gamma modes from the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras). If you add another LUT, you’ll be doing a LUT over a LUT. I’m sure somebody will create a LUT that flattens the image (at present REC.709 – NORMAL – SL does this to an extent), but then adding another LUT over it degrades the image quality. That’s how 3D LUTs work.

For this reason, if you’re working with Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage, I recommend you stick with DaVinci Resolve. Other formats, like R3D, Arriraw, etc., fare better, simply because they already have tighter integration with Premiere Pro.

Playback in Speedgrade has been enhanced with GPU support, and it works just as well as it does in Premiere Pro, even with heavy 4K RAW files.

Exporting a project from Adobe Speedgrade to Adobe Premiere Pro CC

This is simplicity itself. Other than grading, you’re not making any changes to the project file. On the top left in Speedgrade, click on the button/icon as shown:

Speedgrade to Premiere Pro Button

You will be prompted to save your project file:

Speedgrade Saving Project Direct Link to Premiere Pro

Click Yes and the project is reopened in Premiere Pro.

Nothing has changed, except for the grades. Each clip (assuming you have graded them separately) will show the Lumetri Looks plug-in, which cannot be changed. After all, the grades have simply been saved as LUTs. The only thing you can do to them is toggle them on or off:

Premiere Pro Lumetri Plugin Speedgrade

You can create or import new LUTs or simply delete the effect if you don’t like it.

One more thing. The Render tab in Speedgrade is ‘seemingly’ available, but you cannot render or export a Premiere Pro project from Speedgrade. It must be exported from Premiere Pro, which is sort of a downer:

Cant Render Premiere Pro in Speedgrade

Here’s a quick video from Adobe on this entire workflow:

Adobe has managed to reduce Speedgrade to a plug-in not dissimilar to Color Finesse in After Effects. For this workflow to be perfect, though, three things must be improved upon, pronto:

  • Access to camera metadata, and the ability to change it (stuff like ISO, gamma, white balance, etc.).
  • The rest of the Speedgrade toolset. Including the ability to export from it.
  • Audio – At the moment, audio is not imported into Speedgrade, but isn’t destroyed or changed during the round-tripping.

All said and done, I feel this is definitely a positive step in the right direction. The workflow works smoothly and seamlessly, even with different codecs, frame rates, ramping, etc. This works because you’re using the same Adobe Premiere Pro project file.

This must be the simplest workflow tutorial I’ve ever written!