The power of SpeedGrade lies in the way it allows you to build up color corrections and creative looks as grading layers. Because grading layers are non-destructively applied in SpeedGrade, you can play around to your heart’s content until you get your footage looking just right.
It gets even more interesting when you add grading tracks on the Timeline. Grading tracks allow you to add a new set of grades on top of your clip-based color corrections – and they allow you to do this across multiple clips, or a whole project.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to add a grading track.
Color Correcting Individual Clips
If you’ve already worked (or played around) with SpeedGrade, you will be familiar with the Layer pane on the left side of the Look panel.
The layer pane is where you can apply primaries, secondaries, effects, and masks to a clip. Depending on the power of your GPU, there is virtually no limit to how many adjustments or layers you can add.
Clip-based grading is ideal for color correction tasks which are clip-specific, such balancing colors and matching shots, but what if you want to apply a look across a whole scene?
Using Grading Tracks
Grading tracks are color adjustments which are placed on the Timeline above the clips which they affect.
Grading tracks are good for any adjustments that you want to apply across multiple clips. For example, you might want to use a LUT across your whole project to give it a filmic look.
You can also use grading tracks for applying creative looks to scenes, a key aspect of visual storytelling. These looks tell your audience where they are in the story, conveying locations, times (such as when you move between the present and flashback to the past), and atmosphere – for example when the story becomes darker (literally and visually) or happier, or to help the audience distinguish between parallel story lines.
How to create a grading track in SpeedGrade
With your project on the Timeline, open the Timeline panel on the View pane. Drag the grading icon onto the Timeline above your clips.
As you hover over the Timeline with the grading icon, a red line appears over your clips.
If the red line is thick, an empty grading clip will be added to each clip on your Timeline. Drag the icon slightly higher and the red line become thinner. Drop the icon and a grading track appears with a single (empty) grading clip over just one clip. If you make a mistake with the grading track, just undo and try again: you will quickly get the hang of it.
With a single empty grading clip on the Timeline, grab the right end of the grading clip to stretch it across the shots in your scene.
Once it is positioned correctly on the Timeline, select the grading clip and then open the Look panel.
You can now apply a predesigned look, or create a new one. You can use all the same tools as with clip-based color correction: primaries, secondaries, effects, LUTs and masks.
Check your work as you go by toggling the visibility button on the grading track. If your keyboard has a number pad, you can toggle grading on and off with the 0 (zero) key
Grading and look design are integral to modern digital filmmaking workflows. For visual storytelling, grading layers provide a fantastic way to play with color adjustments and develop highly refined looks – and your creative scope is exponentially increased when you bring grading tracks into the mix.
Behind the scenes, as you develop your looks, the Lumetri Deep Color Engine in SpeedGrade is working its magic, instantly re-calculating the values as layers are added, or restacked – so you can focus on the results.
Keep on having fun with SpeedGrade!
Robbie Carmen has just released a new training series on Lynda.com: Up and Running with SpeedGrade.
Remember, if you have technical questions, visit the SpeedGrade forums for lots of friendly help.