In this practical guide, we've outlined how to use Adobe Speedgrade CC for professional color grading. This robust software will elevate your production to the next level, even if you're editing a student film on a bedroom setup.
Getting Familiar with the Interface
On the left side of the project window, you'll see a directory where you can access video files on your hard drive. To the right, you'll see the main browser (called the Desktop), which allows you to view thumbnails and sort through files more easily. Double-clicking on any thumbnail will add the video to your Timeline.
To see your video, click on the Timeline so that the time marker is positioned over the video clip. Then, press the "Monitor" button on the top left side of the screen (or press the D key). Your RAW video will play back at full resolution.
Performing a First Light Grade
Next, it's time to apply a basic color grade, so that you're one step closer to a finished product. Click on the "Look" tab, and you'll see color wheel parameters for Offset, Gamma, and Gain. These settings affect the shadows, midtones, and highlights of your video. For even more control, you can select the "Shadows", "Midtones", or "Highlights" buttons independently, and adjust their respective parameters.
Select a color wheel, and it will light up, letting you know that it's ready for adjustments. If you click and hold the left mouse button, you can move in any direction on the color wheel, and your video coloration will change.
While holding the mouse, you can also move the scroll wheel to adjust the color value's luminance. Click on the Histogram icon (located to the left of your video) to see a visual representation of your color adjustments.
Mastering the Controls
Parameters in Speedgrade are extremely subtle, so you may need to move the mouse (and scroll wheel) a lot before seeing any significant changes. If you hold the Shift key while making adjustments, they will be less subtle, so you can achieve more dramatic results. Meanwhile, if you press 0 on your numeric keypad, you can quickly see what the video looks like before and after color correction. Once you've learned how to use Adobe Speedgrade CC at a basic level, you'll develop an intuition for color correction, and the process will get much faster.
Deleting the Timeline
Just above the Timeline, you'll see an X icon. If you press it, the Timeline will be deleted, and any color grading that you've applied to a video clip will be removed. This is the easiest way to start from scratch, if you're not pleased with the current color settings.