Adobe SpeedGrade CS6: Features and reviews

Adobe SpeedGrade, a GPU-accelerated color grading and finishing tool, is flow available individually for a nominal fee or as part of CS6 Production Premium, Master Collection or Creative Cloud. Selecting Send To Adobe SpeedGrade at the end of a Premiere Pro CS6 editing session renders each clip in your sequence as a 10-bit DPX, creates a Speed- Grade.ircp file which includes a timeline, and opens the project in SpeedGrade CS6.

Though dressed in the same dark UI, Adobe SpeedGrade looks very different from the other Adobe CS6 video apps, and takes a bit of getting used to — but it's worth it. This is an app that belongs on two or more screens, with the controls and timeline on one and the Monitor ewer for feedback on the other.

It's very much keyboard-driven: H reveals the histogram, V the vectorscope and so on, and there are J, K, L controls for transport. But content is mainly adjusted using the Look panel. This offers several ways (sliders, color wheels and so on) to control the overall image, shadows, midtones and highlights, matching color between clips in a sequence and balancing whites and blacks.

Adobe SpeedGrade comes with a great selection of grading presets, which allow one-shot filters to be applied, such as 'Back in the day', bleach bypass or day-for-night. There are also effects such as Sharpen and Glow. Applying color correction follows a layer- based workflow, so you can adjust these values across the whole image or scene on a primary color correction layer, and then add secondary color correction layers for color ranges or individual elements.

You can thus stack up and change the order of color looks and effects, and adjust the opacity of layers. Masks are also supported as layer elements, so you can isolate areas in which color correction is applied, with precise control over feathering.

All adjustments can be saved together as .Look files for re-use, or for quick application during client approval sessions. Primary and secondary corrections in. Look files can be exported as lookup tables (LUTs) for other apps, including After Effects and Photoshop CS6. There's also a powerful stereoscopic 3D toolset and automatic scene detection in Adobe SpeedGrade when working with archived projects.

At the heart of Adobe SpeedGrade is the 64-bit Lumetri Deep Color Engine, which works in 32-bit floating-point color. This processes all grading adjustments as a single operation and enables you to delve into and work with the full exposure latitude of high dynamic range footage and RAW content, such as RED.R3D and Arriraw.

You can also display multiple screens, with multiple playheads playing at the same time in real time to enable more intuitive grading. This requires a Mac Pro with an Adobe-certified graphics card, such as an NVIDIA Quadro 4000, 5000 or 6000 with1GB of VRAM, for top performance.

The initially daunting user interface of Adobe SpeedGrade needs a bit more of a Creative Suite makeover, but SpeedGrade is a powerful tool that really beefs up the professional appeal of CS6 - as long as you have a professional Mac setup.

Price: £17.58 including VAT
Seller: Adobe
Requirements: Multi-core Intel processor, OS X 10.6 .8, OpenGL 2.0-capable hardware (Adobe-certified GPU with 1GB VRAM recommended), a 1650 x display (1920 x 1080 and calibrated secondary display recommended), 4GB RAM (8GB recommended)
Pros: Price is not a misprint, Powerful image processing engine, Layer-based editing, Good support for Premiere and pro workflows
Cons: Unusual design with steep learning curve, Really needs a dual-monitor desktop system

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