Direct-Link workflow between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade

About Direct Link

  • To use the Direct-Link workflow between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade, you have to install the same version of these applications. For example, if you want to use Direct Link with Premiere Pro CC 2015, you must install SpeedGrade CC 2015.
  • From Premiere Pro CC 2015.3 (June 2016 release) onwards, Direct Link is not supported. 

The Direct-Link workflow is an integrated edit-and-grade workflow between Premiere Pro CC and SpeedGrade CC.

Earlier, to use SpeedGrade to color grade your footage from Premiere Pro, you rendered and exported your sequences to SpeedGrade either as DPX still image sequences or edit decision lists (EDLs). After completing color grading in SpeedGrade, you exported the projects as stand-alone video files back into Premiere Pro for more editing.  

Direct Link offers a fast and efficient alternative to this workflow. Leveraging the power of the Mercury Playback Engine, Direct Link lets you send or open Premiere Pro projects directly in SpeedGrade. You can color grade Premiere Pro sequences in SpeedGrade and send it back to Premiere Pro in a few clicks.


To achieve optimal performance when using Direct Link, use a NVIDIA CUDA graphics card with GPU acceleration on Windows. For more information about Adobe-certified NVIDIA graphics cards, see the Tech specs.

One-minute video: Using Direct Link

Maxim Jago

Edit and grade Premiere Pro sequences with Direct Link

The Direct-Link workflow lets you roundtrip Premiere Pro projects between editing and grading without time-consuming or complex tasks like rendering and conforming.

When you send a project, which you had color-corrected using Premiere Pro, to Speedgrade using Direct Link, Speedgrade presents you with the custom Lumetri Color layer. This layer reflects all the color changes that you had made to your project in one layer without any custom controls. You can toggle on/off this feature as needed.

Premiere Pro-SpeedGrade Direct-Link workflow

Step 1: Select Premiere Pro sequence

Select the Premiere Pro sequence that you want to color grade.


Ensure that you have selected the sequence in the Timeline or Project panel.  

Step 2: Send sequence to SpeedGrade using Direct Link

Using Direct Link, you can send a sequence from an open Premiere Pro project directly to SpeedGrade without exporting the project.

To use Direct Link, select File > Direct Link To Adobe SpeedGrade.

Step 3: Choose to open sequence in SpeedGrade

When you select the Direct-Link workflow, Premiere Pro prompts you to save changes to the project in Premiere Pro and open it in SpeedGrade. Click Yes.

Step 4: Selected sequence opens in SpeedGrade

Premiere Pro closes, and SpeedGrade opens the sequence in its Timeline, which uses the same familiar track layout as Premiere Pro.

In the SpeedGrade Timeline, you can see all the clip edit points, transitions, and layers.

Project Timeline in SpeedGrade

Step 5: Color grade the sequence using grading and mask tools

Within SpeedGrade, you can color grade the sequence using Looks and Masks. The Looks that you apply in SpeedGrade appear as Lumetri presets when you reopen the sequence in Premiere Pro.  

If a Lumetri Look has already been applied in Premiere Pro, it's available in the SpeedGrade Timeline, where you can adjust its parameters.

A. Premiere Pro project sequence B. Premiere Pro sequence color graded in SpeedGrade 

The Direct-Link workflow has been designed to let you focus on the color correction and grading tasks when you are in SpeedGrade. Because of this focus, only the Color and Look tabs in SpeedGrade are available in the Direct-Link mode. For more details, see Direct-Link workflow limitations.

Step 6: Send the color graded sequence to Premiere Pro for editing

When you finish color grading your sequence in SpeedGrade, save and reopen the sequence in Premiere Pro for final output or further editing.

Click the Direct Link to Adobe Premiere Pro icon in the upper left of the SpeedGrade user interface.

The color graded sequence opens in Premiere Pro with all color grading fully intact.

Color grading and masks applied in SpeedGrade are visible in Premiere Pro as Lumetri effects. In Premiere Pro, you can turn these Lumetri effects on or off for each clip and for each adjustment layer individually using the Effects Controls panel.

You continue editing or export your sequence for final output in Premiere Pro.

Open Premiere Pro projects directly in SpeedGrade

You can open native Premiere Pro projects directly in SpeedGrade, apply color grading changes, and reopen the project in Premiere Pro.

The SpeedGrade Welcome screen lets you:

  • Open a recently accessed Premiere Pro project (.pproj)
  • Open a Premiere Pro project (.pproj)
  • Create a SpeedGrade project (.IRCP)

When you open a Premiere Pro project, the Sequence Importer dialog opens showing all the sequences contained in the project. Select a sequence to open.


SpeedGrade cannot open more than one Premiere Pro sequence at the same time.

Within SpeedGrade, you can apply primary and secondary color correction, apply Looks and Masks, and do all the required color grading.


You cannot send SpeedGrade (.IRCP) projects back to Premiere Pro. To use Direct Link, start with a Premiere Pro project (.pproj).

Some important points:

  • From within SpeedGrade, you can view and adjust Premiere Pro adjustment layers, and also view any transitions applied to the sequence.
  • All the color grading that you apply in SpeedGrade is available automatically in Premiere Pro. There is no need to export the .look files.

Working with offline media

When you open a Premiere Pro project with missing media files in SpeedGrade, you cannot link and locate the offline media like you would in Premiere Pro.

To relink the offline media, you must bring the project back to Premiere Pro.

Working with After Effects Compositions

There are several ways to use After Effects Compositions in your Premiere Pro project:

  • Replace a clip in Premiere Pro with an After Effects Composition
  • Link to an After Effects Composition using Adobe Dynamic Link
  • Import an After Effects Composition (AEP file) into a Premiere Pro project

Irrespective of which method you use, you can open a Premiere Pro sequence containing After Effects Compositions directly in SpeedGrade. SpeedGrade opens the sequence in Direct-Link mode, from where you can color grade the compositions just as you would color grade any Premiere Pro sequence.

Limitations in Direct-Link mode

The Direct-Link workflow has been designed such that you focus only on the color correction and grading workflows within SpeedGrade.

Given this focus, there are specific things to consider while using SpeedGrade in the Direct-Link mode:

  • The auto-save feature is turned off while using the Direct-Link mode.
  • To use Direct Link, you start with a Premiere Pro project (.pproj). You cannot send SpeedGrade projects (.IRCP) to Premiere Pro in the Direct-Link mode.
  • In the Direct-Link mode, you cannot render your Premiere Pro projects within SpeedGrade. You send the projects back to Premiere Pro for rendering. So, the Render and Results tabs are unavailable when using Direct Link.
  • SpeedGrade can open only one Premiere Pro sequence at a time, and not multiple sequences at once. To open a different sequence in the project, open the Sequence Importer dialog by clicking in the SpeedGrade Timeline.
  • You cannot launch the Media Browser to browse through media, so the Media tab is unavailable when using Direct Link.
  • You cannot add clips to the Premiere Pro sequence within SpeedGrade. Bring the project back to Premiere Pro to edit the sequence.
  • You cannot adjust audio or use the Pan & Scan functions. So, Stereo 3D, Audio, and Pan And Scan tabs are unavailable when using Direct Link.
  • If you apply the Warp Stabilizer effect on a Premiere Pro sequence, ensure that the analysis is complete before sending the sequence to SpeedGrade using Direct Link. Otherwise, an error message appears.  

Video tutorial

How to make your video look like film

Learn how to use Direct Link to roundtrip your projects to SpeedGrade for comprehensive color grading and applying preset film stock and camera looks.

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