I’ve been asked this question many times and I thought I’ld spell it all our here. When it comes to color correction or color grading there are two main schools of thought. Either you are using purpose built applications that work outside your edit system or you are using a plug in that works inside your editor.
My preference is easy… ANYTHING that works INSIDE my edit system. Here is my thinking.
EVERYTHING I do is on extreme time constraints. The process of sending your timeline out to a standalone color grading application processing your images, no matter how fast it is because of the tools and then sending it back to your edit for final output, that takes too much time for me. I will FREELY admit that I am not a full time colorist, and I don’t know all the tricks of the trade and maybe if I DID I would be faster.
So what is the alternative? Working in my editor, ON my timeline, using plugins. I find that this method of work saves me a LOT of time. Can I get the exact same results… probably not. Can I AFFORD the exact same results? NOPE. I can’t. I work in the real world where money is ALWAYS tight. Often times the “color work” that I do on a project is not even be requested of the client and it is details that I am doing for myself to satisfy my OWN desires. That being said, I can’t turn over my shoulder and say, “uh yea, thats gonna take a while cuz I have to reconform our timeline down to one track and export an XML and then import that into another app and do all the color work before I… Huh?? Whats that? Your client called and wants to change something? What? They don’t know what “Picture Lock” means? What kind of people ARE we working for anyway? Huh? Oh… yea… I guess “people with money to spend” makes a pretty good client after all, NEVERMIND.”
So, thats my take on stand alone apps verses plug in based color correction/color grading.