Top Tips for Adobe SpeedGrade Color Grading and Correction
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


Whether you're a video editing newbie or a seasoned pro, mastering Adobe SpeedGrade can be a game-changer for your projects. This powerful tool can transform your videos with professional-grade color grading and correction. In this blog, we're going to get up close with Adobe SpeedGrade—taking you through the basics, the interface, and the top tips you need to know. Let's dive into the vibrant world of Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and color correction!

What is Adobe SpeedGrade?

Adobe SpeedGrade is a color grading and correction tool that's part of the Adobe Creative Suite. It's the secret sauce that adds flavor to your videos—allowing you to adjust hues, saturation, contrast, and more to create the perfect visual tone for your content.

Here's why Adobe SpeedGrade stands out:

  • Flexibility: It works seamlessly with other Adobe products like Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. This means you can easily switch between tools to get your video looking exactly how you want it.
  • Powerful Tools: Adobe SpeedGrade is packed with a robust set of color grading and correction tools. Whether you're doing basic color correction or advanced grading, SpeedGrade has you covered.
  • Professional Quality: With Adobe SpeedGrade, you can achieve the same high-quality color grading that the pros use in films and TV shows.

So, whether you're color correcting a vlog or grading a short film, Adobe SpeedGrade can help you create stunning visuals that captivate your audience.

How to setup your project in SpeedGrade

Once you've got Adobe SpeedGrade installed and ready to go, the first step is setting up your project. Here's how:

  1. Create a New Project: To start, open Adobe SpeedGrade and select 'New Project'. This will open a dialog box where you can name your project and choose where you want to save it. Remember, a well-organized workspace is key to keeping your projects under control.
  2. Set Up Your Environment: After creating your project, you'll find yourself in the SpeedGrade interface. Here, you can customize your workspace to suit your needs. Want your timeline on the right and your color wheels on the left? No problem. Move around the panels until you find what works best for you.
  3. Import Your Footage: Now it's time to bring in your video clips. Click on the 'File' menu and select 'Import'. Find your video files, select them, and click 'Open'. Your clips will then appear in the media browser.
  4. Arrange Your Clips: Once you've imported your clips, you can drag and drop them onto the timeline in the order you want them. You can also trim and adjust the clips as needed.

And there you have it! Your project is now set up in Adobe SpeedGrade, and you're ready to dive into the world of color grading and correction. Remember, the more familiar you become with setting up a project in SpeedGrade, the quicker and more efficient your color grading process will be.

Tips for using the SpeedGrade interface

As you start exploring Adobe SpeedGrade, you might find the interface a bit daunting. But don't worry — once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze. Here are some tips to help you navigate like a pro:

  1. Get Familiar with the Layout: The SpeedGrade interface consists of several panels — the Look panel, the Monitor panel, the Grading Tools panel, and more. Each panel has a specific function in the process of color grading and correction. Spend some time getting to know each panel and what it does.
  2. Customize Your Workspace: One of the great things about SpeedGrade is that it allows you to customize your workspace. You can rearrange panels, resize them, and even hide the ones you don't use. Remember, a well-organized workspace can make your grading process smoother and more efficient.
  3. Use Keyboard Shortcuts: SpeedGrade offers a range of keyboard shortcuts that can save you a lot of time. For instance, hitting the 'G' key will bring up the Grading Tools panel, while pressing 'L' will switch to the Look panel. Check out the 'Help' menu for a full list of shortcuts.
  4. Take Advantage of Hover Preview: This is a handy feature in SpeedGrade. When you hover your mouse over a clip in the timeline, it shows a preview of the clip in the Monitor panel. This can be a big time-saver when you're looking for a specific shot.

Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be navigating the Adobe SpeedGrade interface like a pro in no time. Remember, the key to mastering any new tool is practice — so don't be afraid to experiment and explore!

How to use color correction in SpeedGrade

Once you've gotten the hang of the SpeedGrade interface, it's time to dive into the world of color correction. Here's a step-by-step guide for you:

  1. Import Your Footage: To begin with, import the footage you want to correct by clicking on the 'File' menu and then 'Open'. This will open your files and place them on the timeline.
  2. Analyze Your Footage: Take a good look at your footage. Are there color imbalances? Areas that are too dark or too light? Understanding what needs correction is half the battle.
  3. Adjust the Overall Color Balance: Use the 'Offset' control in the Color Wheels panel to adjust the overall color balance. If your footage is too warm, move the control towards blue; if it's too cool, move it towards red.
  4. Correct the Exposure: Use the 'Gamma' control in the Color Wheels panel to correct the exposure. If your footage is too dark, move the control to the right; if it's too bright, move it to the left.
  5. Finetune the Saturation: Lastly, use the 'Saturation' slider to adjust the intensity of the colors. Be careful not to overdo it — you don't want your footage to look unnatural.

And there you have it! You've just performed a basic color correction in Adobe SpeedGrade. Remember, color correction is an art — it takes time and practice to get it right. So don't get discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out perfect. Keep experimenting, and soon enough, you'll be creating visually stunning videos with perfectly balanced colors.

How to use the primary color correction tools

Now that we've covered the basics of color correction in Adobe SpeedGrade, let's delve into some of the primary color correction tools that you can use to refine your video's look even further.

  1. Lift, Gamma, Gain: These are the three fundamental tools that you'll be using most often. 'Lift' adjusts the shadows, 'Gamma' modifies the mid-tones, and 'Gain' changes the highlights. By tweaking these settings, you can dramatically alter the mood and tone of your footage.
  2. Input and Output Levels: These sliders allow you to set the black and white points of your image. If your image lacks contrast, adjusting these sliders can help bring back some depth.
  3. Color Wheels: These handy tools let you adjust the color balance of your shadows, mid-tones, and highlights individually. It's a bit like having three 'Offset' controls instead of just one. You can use them to create some really interesting and stylized looks.
  4. Temperature and Tint: If your footage is looking a bit too warm (orange) or cool (blue), you can use the Temperature slider to correct it. Similarly, if your image has a green or magenta cast, the Tint slider will help you neutralize it.

The key to mastering these primary color correction tools in Adobe SpeedGrade is practice. Don't be afraid to play around with the settings and see how they affect your footage. Remember, there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to grade a video — it all depends on the mood you want to convey and the story you want to tell.

How to use secondary color correction tools

Once you've made your primary corrections in Adobe SpeedGrade, it's time to move on to secondary color correction. These tools allow you to make targeted adjustments to specific parts of your image, giving you even more control over your final look.

  1. Curves: The curves tool is your secret weapon for precision grading. It allows you to adjust the color and luminance of specific parts of your image by manipulating a curve on a graph. For example, if you want to brighten the highlights without affecting the shadows, you can do that with curves.
  2. Secondary Color Correction: This tool lets you select a specific color in your image and adjust only that color. It's perfect for when you want to make a blue sky bluer, or tone down a too-red face.
  3. Vignettes: A vignette darkens the corners of your image, drawing attention to the center. Adobe SpeedGrade allows you to control the size, shape, and softness of your vignette, so you can create the perfect frame for your subject.
  4. Look Layers: Look layers are a bit like Instagram filters for your video. You can layer different looks on top of your base grade to create a unique, stylized image. Just remember to keep it subtle — too many looks can quickly become overwhelming.

Secondary color correction tools give you the power to fine-tune your grade and create a truly professional look. Start slow, experiment, and gradually build your confidence. And remember, the goal of color correction isn't just to make your footage look pretty — it's also to help tell your story.

Tips for working with SpeedGrade color grades

Now that you're well-versed with the color correction tools in Adobe SpeedGrade, let's talk about how to work efficiently and effectively with your color grades. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Consistency is Key: When grading multiple shots within a scene, strive for consistency. This doesn't mean every shot should look identical, but they should feel like they belong together. Use the shot match feature in SpeedGrade to help achieve this.
  • Rest Your Eyes: Color grading can be a visually intense task. It's important to take regular breaks to rest your eyes. This will help you maintain a fresh perspective and avoid color bias.
  • Use Reference Images: Having a reference image can guide your color grading process. It could be a still from a movie, a photograph or even a painting — anything that captures the mood or look you're trying to achieve.
  • Start with a Neutral Image: Before starting your color grading process, ensure your footage is as neutral as possible. This will give you a clean slate to work on and make your color corrections more effective.
  • Trust Your Scopes: While your eyes are an excellent tool, they can deceive you. That's where scopes come in. The waveform, histogram and vectorscope in Adobe SpeedGrade can provide objective information about your image. Learn how to read them and trust what they tell you.

Color grading in Adobe SpeedGrade is as much an art as it is a technical process. With practice, patience, and these tips, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of color grading and correction.

How to export your graded project

After you've spent time perfecting your Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and color correction, the final step is to export your project. Here's how you do it:

  1. Save your project: The first thing you want to do is save your work. There's nothing worse than losing hours of progress because of a sudden power outage or a software glitch.
  2. Choose the right format: Go to the 'Output' tab and select the format you want to export your project in. Different platforms require different formats, so choose wisely. If you're unsure, MOV and MP4 are generally safe bets.
  3. Check your settings: While in the 'Output' tab, you can adjust the resolution, frame rate, and other settings. Make sure everything is as you want it.
  4. Start the Export: Once you're happy with your settings, click on the 'Start Render' button. Depending on the length and complexity of your project, this could take some time.

And voilà! You've successfully navigated the process of Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and correction, and exported your project. Now, you're ready to share your work with the world.

Top tips for working with SpeedGrade

Now that you've mastered the basics of Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and correction, let's dive into some top tips to help you work even more efficiently:

  1. Master the shortcuts: Just like any other Adobe software, SpeedGrade is full of handy keyboard shortcuts. Using them can speed up your workflow significantly. For example, hitting 'D' will toggle between your original footage and your color-graded footage – handy for comparison, right?
  2. Use automatic scene detection: If your project consists of one long clip, use the 'Scene Detect' feature. It will break your footage down into separate shots, making it easier to apply different color grades.
  3. Keep an eye on the scopes: The 'scopes' in SpeedGrade are your best friends when it comes to color correction. They provide an objective view of your image's color and luminance values. So, even if your monitor isn't perfectly calibrated, you can still get accurate results.
  4. Start with the primary corrections and work your way down: It's generally best to start with primary color correction, adjusting the overall image before moving on to secondary corrections for specific areas.
  5. Don't be afraid of the 'Look' layer: The 'Look' layer in SpeedGrade can be intimidating, but it's a powerful tool for creating stylized looks. Experiment with it, and you might surprise yourself with what you can create.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you work with Adobe SpeedGrade, the more comfortable you'll become with its color grading and correction capabilities. So don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. After all, that's how great art is made, isn't it?

Resources and tutorials for SpeedGrade

Feeling pumped to explore more about Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and color correction? There's a wealth of resources and tutorials out there to help you dive deeper. Here are a few places to start:

  1. Adobe's own tutorials: Who better to learn from than the creators themselves? Adobe provides a host of tutorials, ranging from basic setup and interface navigation, to advanced color grading and correction techniques.
  2. Online learning platforms: Websites like Lynda, Skillshare, and Udemy offer comprehensive courses on Adobe SpeedGrade. These often include hands-on projects, so you can practice your new skills in real time.
  3. YouTube tutorials: Don't underestimate the power of YouTube. There are many professionals who share their expertise through step-by-step video tutorials. Some even provide sample footage for you to practice on.
  4. User forums: Struggling with a particular issue? Chances are, someone else has faced the same problem. Adobe's user forums are a great place to ask questions and get advice from experienced users.
  5. Books: Yes, old school, but still relevant. Books like "Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema" offer in-depth knowledge and expert tips that can help you master Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and color correction.

Remember, learning is a journey. Take your time, practice often, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Before you know it, you'll be an Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and correction whiz. Now, who's ready to up their color grading game?

If you enjoyed learning about Adobe SpeedGrade color grading and correction, you might also be interested in exploring other creative tools. Check out the workshop 'Animating with Procreate and Photoshop' by Nyanza. This workshop will teach you how to create beautiful animations using Procreate and Photoshop, expanding your skillset and opening up new creative possibilities.