For simple stuff I use the 3-way Color Corrector but some people use third-party plugins like Colorista. For more complex corrections or long-form timelines I use a dedicated app such as Resolve.
If my footage requires heavy color correction then I don't generally perform the CC in the same timeline I do my edit in. I generally do my CC then export to a lossless or visually lossless format. Then after my CC is complete I perform my edit. However if I only need very light CC then I just perform it inside Premiere. For really heavy color correction I have used AE before but I always have done it before adding any transitions or any graphics etc. But then again it really depends on the specific project, if it's a field shoot with several camera's it can be a pain to CC tons of un-edited footage. So workflow varies from scenario to scenario.
Like you have stated though I have always liked using the curves effect quite a bit. It makes it very easy to obtain a "warm" look to my footage. One thing I really like about Premiere cs6 though is that we finally can use Adjustment layers!!!! Which makes CC much easier. Sadly though I haven't used Speed Grade too much yet, to partially answer your question though about speed grade, its integration with Premeire isn't as good as AE, Audition, or Encore in my opinion.
Here is a link to a article on how it works
can you export your entire timeline into Speed grade and it retain your titles and trasitions?
Thanks guys, I appreciate your viewpoints on this, most helpful :-)
If I can CC in Pr, I will. What prevents me from staying in Pr is if I need to do a lot of masking, secondary type corrections. Ae is better for that, IMO.
I guess my general rule is, "The more love I need to put on my footage, the more likely it is I'll need to take the project to Ae."
When I do CC in Pr, my tools of choice are RGB Curves (which is CUDA friendly, and I have a CUDA card) for CC, and I use Three-Way or Fast CC mostly for increasing saturation. I leave the other controls alone.
The advantage to doing CC in Pr, is the CUDA accelleration. If you use CUDA effects, you can work a lot faster, due to less rendering. Once you go to Ae, you lose CUDA, but you gain flexibility. Therefore, there's not a single one-size-fits-all answer.
I also have a lot more available plugs in Ae. I like Frischluft Curves, which is an oustanding curves based plug. And the native Hue/Saturation effect in Ae is extremely useful for single hue corrections. Pr doesn't have a similar native effect.
And then as a last step, after getting all my corrections "evened out," I'll add Magic Bullet Looks to an adjustment layer for an overall treatment.
I only opened SpeedGrade once after installing it. I don't see why anybody would use it, unless they were already familiar with it. You can't go back to Pr easily. And in my world, projects are rarely finished. Clients think they can make massive changes at any stage of post, even after mastering and delivery. I've had clients make changes to spots after they've been airing for several days. I laugh at editors who name anything "final."