Giant Software's Magic Bullet Instant HD Advanced
Giant Software's Magic Bullet Instant HD Advanced
Review by Steve
There are still a great many videographers and editors with large
libraries of Standard Definition footage who long to integrate
much of that footage, especially those once in a lifetime captures,
within their new projects and HD or HDV sequences.
Back in June 2006 I reviewed Magic
Bullets' Instant HD, a program designed to help the editor incorporate
Standard Definition footage into an HDV or HD sequence. It was
designed for users of Final Cut Pro 4.1+ and Adobe After Effects
6.0+ and worked its magic by up scaling the source footage. It
did its job well though it was not accompanied by the easiest
workflow in the world. However, at that time, the user guide
was well written and thus the workflow could be followed if you
had the time on your hands. The only real problem was that there
was some noticeable resolution loss as a result of the up scaling.
It was not severe but could be observed by the sharp eye.
While Instant HD Advanced is not
compatible with Final Cut Pro as their original Instant HD had
been, for 2008 Magic Bullet has both simplified the workflow
as well as made some significant improvements in the software.
Now compatible for Mac OS 10.5.2 with a minimum of 1GB of ram
and 30 MB of hard drive space or PC/Windows, Magic Bullet Instant
HD is geared for either the After Effects 7 or CS3 user.
I'm not going to pretend for you
that I am an expert regarding multi-vector motion analysis, but
that is really the heart of Instant HD Advanced. This analysis
is what brings about the sharp output and cleanly accurate frames
from previously interlaced SD source footage. According to Red
Giant, it is the motion vectors that contribute to producing
the excellent resolution resultant from the application of Instant
So as to avoid any loss of resolution
when up converting your standard definition footage to HD, Red
Giant has developed algorithms which compare each pixel over
successive frames. This then determines each frames' true edges
providing for greater detailing and sharper results. In addition,
Instant HD Advanced now uses mult-core optimization on intel-based
computers that, for anyone used to the drudgery of waiting for
something to render in After Effects, will be a welcome relieve
as render times are significantly reduced.
In use, once I settled upon the
correct settings, the entire process of up converting some ancient
DV footage to fit an HDV timeline was considerably easier to
accomplish than with the old version of Instant HD. One just
imports their footage in Adobe After Effects, and drags the footage
into a new composition. This is the same as you would do for
any work in After Effects.
Frame from the original
Standard Definition footage. No filters or color correction applied.
Then it is up to the Composition Settings where you set things
to the way you want your output to be.
Here I changed the
composition settings so the 4:3 clip will sequester nicely into
an HDV sequence.
In my case, I used HDTV 1080 29.97fps. I applied the Magic Bullet
Instant HD Advanced plug in to the footage and went to the Effects
Control window. Here I set the Output size to match the composition
size and changed the Scale Type to 'Fit To Fill'. For those now
shooting in 2K, the 2K settings provided in Instant HD Advance
provide an easy way to scale the media to 2K resolution. Two
dimension are offered. SMPTE 2K is the 2K version used to edit
2K media with 1080 lines. This is commonly used for digital cinema
distribution. The ability to save for future use any custom presets
you might use is part of Instant HD as well.
The Instant HD Advanced,
now open in the AE Effects window has a number of controllable
but for those wanting a quick start and integration of their
SD clips into a different format,
a simple change of your output size and scale type to match your
comp settings will suffice.
At this point, as you normally would do when ready to render,
bring your clip to the render queue, check the queue settings
and render away. A four second clip took 3min 28sec to render
in After Effects which is typical of what I have learned to expect
when rendering anything in AE. However, the render time is shorter
than it was with the original version of Instant HD and the results
are vastly improved.
The same frame side
by side. With the now up converted 16x9 frame, you can see that
the original lines are nicely kept with no viable distortion
Do not expect your old Standard Definition footage to suddenly
look as if it were now shot in HD. Nothing I know of will magically
convert lesser quality source clips into higher quality footage.
However, what Red Giant Softwares' Instant HD Advanced will do,
is to allow you to utilize your DV footage in HDV or HD sequences
without any obvious loss in either detail or color resolution
from its original source. Of course, there is some scaling involved
in the Instant HD Advanced algorithm. However, from the example
below, you can see that it does not deviate very much from the
Notice the missing
eye and lower jaw from this frame.
This, however, is based upon the default settings. Adjustments
can be made however by using the custom settings parameter controls.
As I often note in the reviews I write, Red Giant Software is
one of those companies that, in the interest of customer service,
provides video tutorials on their website. This can be very helpful
to anyone just getting started with new plug ins. While a tutorial
for Instant HD Advanced is not up there yet, I am sure that in
due time it will be. I have always found the folk at Magic Bullet
to provide excellent tech support and within a very reasonable
timeframe. As I noted in my review of Magic Bullet Looks, they
continually seem to come up with serious and important improvements
to most every application they produce. With Instant HD Advanced,
they did just that. Editors would not use Magic Bullet's Instant
HD Advanced to convert entire sequences, but will find it as
an arsenal tool for short clip inclusion. My bottom line is that
they succeed. Instant HD Advanced fits the bill just as they
advertise. They have provided a simpler workflow, faster results
and a higher quality output to an already excellent and useful
Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro
6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast
Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los
Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious
2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he
also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater
Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver
on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed
footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History
channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one
of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition
and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris
with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa
Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009,
and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact
him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting
copyright © Steve
This article first appeared
on www.kenstone.net and
is reprinted here with permission.
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