Professional Color at Adobe – Past, Present & Future

by Patrick Palmer

posted on 08-22-2017

With SpeedGrade going end of life this week, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss its impact on the industry and Adobe video products, as well as what’s in store for the future.

When SpeedGrade was first shown at Siggraph in 2004, it started a revolution that disrupted an entire market segment of the film and broadcast industry. Color Grading was a rather exclusive domain at the time – not because people didn’t want to be creative with color and light, but because it was extremely expensive and complicated. A standard color grading suite typically ran more than $500,000 USD, and came with hardware that needed to be maintained and upgraded regularly.

What made SpeedGrade so different? It was among the first publicly available color grading applications that was software-centric and ran on any regular Mac or Windows workstation. It was fast, too, which made all the difference: it practically lived on the GPU. It was also suggested that looks could be created well before shooting and users could get a full preview of their creative intention throughout the pipeline. Little did we know how much this would change the perception of what’s possible when working with color and light: today it’s nearly unthinkable to wait until the very end of the post-production cycle to see a nicely graded image, but that was the norm some 13 years ago.

When SpeedGrade was acquired by Adobe in 2011, we quickly focused on making it available to all Creative Cloud customers. After Speedgrade’s first official release as an Adobe product it became apparent that subsequent advancements in Premiere Pro presented a unique opportunity drive further benefits by simplifying the color and light workflows. The Mercury Playback Engine with its powerful native file format support called into question long established workflow paradigms such as offline/online workflows. What if we brought powerful color and light tools into the editing application itself?

In talking to customers who’ve had a long history of dealing with color grading as a separate process it quickly became obvious to the SpeedGrade team: we could knock down another barrier to access. Producing a separate application for color grading was born out of necessity some 35 years ago – it was never a desirable split from a creative perspective. Design on the Lumetri Color tools for Premiere Pro quickly started, and the Lumetri Color panel was introduced with Premiere Pro CC 2014. We questioned every assumption made along the way, acknowledged learnings and workflows from other industry leading Adobe tools like Lightroom, and designed the Lumetri tools to be intuitive and approachable, yet extremely powerful. The Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro became an instant smash hit and the paradigm of consolidating toolsets for a specific task into a single panel has led to further innovation. The Essential Sound Panel and the new Essential Graphics panel are designed with the same goal in mind: streamlining professional and powerful workflows made for editors.

By early 2017 , when the vast majority of SpeedGrade users had migrated to working with Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro, we saw a dramatic increase of usage of the Lumetri tools across the Premiere Pro user base. This led to the decision to focus all our future color and light efforts on building out the Lumetri panel in Premiere Pro.

There’s still a lot we plan to do to increase productivity for everyone working with color and light, and we’re also laser focussed on keeping the promise of the Lumetri design approach true for all the emerging standards adding HDR and WCG to the pipeline. As always, we find customer input invaluable and look forward to working with our amazingly talented users to help us define the future path. To submit feature requests, visit:

For more information on the Lumetri Color panel and color workflows in Premiere Pro visit:

Topics: Video & Audio

Products: Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud