My current daily job requires producing about 50-60 minutes of content per month of something that roughly falls into mostly unscripted reality show. Within 30 days we have to prepare the final edit, sound mix, including voice over and music, motion graphics, any potential VFX shots, mostly cleanups, and finally some rudimentary grade and DVD authoring. The time is precious, and short. And sometimes changes have to be introduced a day before, or even on the mastering day.
There is no time to send it via standard XML export to Resolve, as it requires extensive timeline preparation and transcoding – we’re shooting XDCAM EX in the mp4 wrapper which Resolve does not support – not even mentioning SpeedGrade with its EDL or DPX workflow. I tried using Resolve for these jobs three times during last two years, and it always backfired heavily due to last moment changes. Nope. I was stuck with standard Premiere tools and my own plugins. Simply because the project had to be editable all the time – a feature which not even the mighty Final Cut Studio managed to accomplish.
Now, dear Reader, please count the time you yourself wasted on timeline preparation, conforming and reconforming process when you sent your project to a colorist or to a grading software. Or the time you spent in After Effects, which is awfully not optimized for grading. Or the number of times you decided to forgo the proper grading, because there was not enough time. Or the number of times you wished you could introduce editorial changes after the final grade has already been done. I bet it is not low.
Enter SpeedGrade CC 7.1, and Premiere Pro CC 7.1. Enter the Direct Link. There is no applause. There is dead silence. And the sound of thousands jaws dropping on the floor. Because the idea of conforming and reconforming is gone. Poof! Like this. You open your project in Premiere, and send it to SpeedGrade with a click of the button, or a menu option. And your whole timeline is suddenly present in SpeedGrade, with effects, transitions, speed changes, titles and everything. Even the Dynamic Linked compositions come through. Once you are done grading, the project is sent to Premiere, and it is still live there – the only thing that gets added are the instances of Lumetri effect. Make any changes you want, send to SpeedGrade again, and see your grade intact. No reconforming needed.
This is freaking awesome. No, let me rephrase it. This is FREAKING AWESOME!
With the introduction of Direct Link, SpeedGrade became overnight infinitely more viable option for many Premiere Pro CC users than any other grading application.
But wait, there is more. Are you using nested sequences or multicam sequences in your projects? No problem! You can access all sequences in SpeedGrade with a click of another button. No need to export and import them one by one, no need to flatten your timeline. No need to prepare or render. No waste of time on mundane and frustrating processes. It just works. It just rocks.
I might be a bit too optimistic, but I believe this feature is going to make a lot of people reconsider their workflows and the applications they are using. Even with all the new goodies in version 10, Resolve is no longer an obvious go to software, especially if a quick turnaround is needed. Yes, SpeedGrade still has its own quirks, limitations, and could still use some improvements, but with the added multiple masks per grade, working like Photoshop’s layer masks, there is not much you can’t do with it grade-wise.
I could be cynical, and say, that this feature was obvious, once the Lumetri effect was introduced to Premiere. The writing was on the wall. Direct Link is something that we all wanted, and knew it was coming. The performance can most certainly be improved. But seeing it work with my own eyes is nothing short of amazing.
The day I dreamt about (and prophesied) has come. I am happy. The ironic twist is that I will no longer work for this company from November on. But it’s a completely different story. Enjoy the Direct Link, and get your SpeedGrade skills quickly up to speed, cause you’re going to need them!
What does it mean for Creative Impatience? In essence, Vignette, Power Window and Temperature, become mostly obsolete with this release for anyone using Creative Cloud. The ease of applying proper grading equals using the plugins, and the Lumetri effect is GPU accelerated – something that my plugins at present moment are not.
This is not to say that there will be nothing new from Creative Impatience. On the contrary, I hope to release a new plugin soon with a new member of the team – James Hall. He has a really clever idea which no other grading software has yet tried, at least as far as I know, and we’re trying hard to make it as viable and user-friendly, as we can.
I am still going to explore the GPU acceleration, and will most likely develop the accelerated versions of these plugins for CC, even though I don’t expect much demand for most of them. They will not, however, be the donationware, like all non-GPU plugins here – these are going to be commercial versions. And unfortunately no GPU acceleration for CS6 and before, because it is not supported by Adobe’s SDK and program architecture.
Meanwhile, I appreciate any support I am receiving from you, and I give mu huge thanks to everyone who took time and effort to donate. And if you are looking for an expert advice on workflows concerning all things Adobe, be sure to drop me a line.