Bullet Suite 2007
$799.00 - $199.00 upgrade price
Review by Steve
let that $799.00 scare you off before you read this. In the new
Magic Bullet Suite you are actually getting four separate applications
which can be used in Final Cut Pro, Motion 3, Adobe After Effects,
or all three. Magic Bullet Looks, MB Frames, MB Colorista and
Instant HD make up the entire suite. Each application can be
bought separately, but if you don't have any of them, then I
would certainly consider purchasing the suite in its' entirety.
The first of the four is Red Giant's Instant
HD which I reviewed here June, 2006 and sells for $99.00
as an individual application. I have not gone back to Instant
HD for the purpose of this review but it did its job very well
up-converting Standard Definition footage to HD. I do wish that
it were a bit easier to utilize as it takes some time to do the
conversion, but once completed, the results were excellent.
The Magic Bullet Colorista version
1.0 sells for $199.00, as does the Magic Bullet Frames version
1.0. And then there is the star of the suite, Magic Bullet Looks
that may be purchased for $399.00 separately. Most of us have
seen interesting upgrades from time to time. Usually they include
some different features or improve its efficiency. Rarely do
you come across as complete a makeover of an application, as
I am witness to with the Magic Bullet Looks.
Magic Bullet Looks helps you create
a look that will define the mood of your sequence. It is the
3rd generation of Magic Bullet and replaces both Magic Bullet
Editors and Looks Suite functionality from Magic Bullet Suite.
In the previous version, while many looks were offered, they
were difficult to adjust and impossible for the Final Cut Pro
user to share a project with an After Effects editor.
Once a Magic Bullet Looks filter
is applied one clicks on the edit button found in the filters
tab in Final Cut Pro or the effects Controls in After Effects.
This brings up the Looks Builder window where different looks
can be viewed, adjusted and applied. There are 6 parts to the
Looks Builder interface which is intuitive and easy to navigate
The Magic Bullet
Looks interface is considerably different than its' predecessor.
I found it very easy to navigate. The supplied video tutorial
explains it clearly and got me up to speed in just a few minutes.
The info bar at the top contains where
you choose the genre of looks you wish to view, your zoom settings,
your on/off graphs and RGB levels. The preview window shows the
effects of the applied looks and any parameter adjustments you
might make. The scopes on the right can be switched between either
a slice graph or the RGB levels, and the tool chain, consisting
of tools for the subject, matte, lens, camera or post. The pop
up drawers of looks are hidden beneath a drawer type tab on the
left and the pop up tools for the chain items are in a similar
drawer on the right and, finally, the individual tool parameter
controls are on the lower right which come up dependent upon
which tool is selected.
Once a tool is dragged onto the frame of the clip you can make any adjustments you wish, working along with either the slice graph or the KGB levels scope, in the tool parameter controls in the lower right. Adjustments are immediately displayed.
A 'Getting Started' video is part of the package and it does
a great job of explaining things, especially if you were used
to the appearance of the previous version of Magic Bullet Editors
and Looks. The easiest way to begin is simply to chose from among
a great many looks presets and then customize from there using
the many supplied tools included in Magic Bullet Looks Suite.
In many cases, customizing might not even be necessary. Simply
applying any of the presets to your clip will bring up many of
the tools that were used in creating that specific preset. These
tools can then be adjusted to your individual tastes. In the
info bar you have a 'look Theater' button where you can view
the myriad choices of looks to keep as is or to finely tune.
The 'View' button allows you to see an automatic show of one
look after another. Setting it to preview either all the looks
or just the looks in a specific category can alter this. The
Magic Bullet 'Looks' are divided into several categories, 'Basic',
'Black and White Tints', 'Diffusion', 'Horror', 'Music Videos',
'Popular Film', 'Popular TV',' Special Effects', 'Stock Emulation'
and 'Tints'. Each of these genres contains a significant number
of different looks to chose from. There is also another category,
'Custom' where you can save your own customized 'look' for future
use. Once you have picked the one that suits your project best
and made whatever adjustments you needed, the editor clicks on
the lower corner where it say 'OK' and the Looks Builder closes
with your new 'Look' applied to the clip in the timeline.
There are an abundance
of 'Looks' presets already available to you. As you click on
each 'look' the preview window quickly applies the new look.
Once your choice of look is applied, should you wish to adjust
or change it, it is a simple matter of going back into the Filters
tab in the FCP viewer or into your effects tab in Adobe After
Effects and make whatever changes you wish.
As it initially appears
in the filters tab in Final Cut Pro. Clicking on the 'Edit' button
brings up the Magic Bullet Looks interface.
The 'Power Mask'
allows you to apply a mask, with controls for size and shape
to your image once a look has been activated.
of a Leopard.
After using the Bistrocity
look from the Popular Film set.
Zebra on the savannah
before and after with the 'Mishandled Negative' look from the
Stock Emulation set.
Nursing lion cub
before and after the 'Sultrytron' look is applied from the Diffusion
While testing Magic Bullet Looks in Final Cut 6 and Motion I
had no crashes, spinning beach balls, or problems of any kind.
On my 2x3.0 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon, running OS 10.4.11 with
5.5 gigs ram, it worked like a charm. I was able to watch the
clip without dropped frames slowing the process. The same can
be said for my efforts in After Effects. As I said earlier in
this review, I liked the previous version of Magic Bullet Editors
but didn't use it that much as adjustments were much more difficult
to make and didn't seem as precise. That is no longer the case
and I am thrilled with this total makeover of Magic Bullet Looks.
Magic Bullet Frames is a new part to
the Suite ensemble. You begin with your ordinary interlaced video,
apply the MB Frames and it produces a smoother look of de-interlaced
24p film. The Frames plug-ins includes an NTSC-to-24p and de-interlacing
filters and offer both field-blended and a motion-adaptive de-interlacing
approach that eliminates video artifacts. These include letterboxing
and line offset controls to create mattes and adjust the image
inside the letterbox area. I have found these controls to be
a great help in the past, especially when I was mixing video
formats and wanted to create a more consistent look. Final Cut
Pro and Motion 3, in addition to Adobe After Effects now support
Magic Bullet Frames.
Colorista was released about a year ago
and is now a part of the Magic Bullet Suite as well. While I
did not experiment with it very extensively it does have its
advantages over the 3-way color corrector in Final Cut. Using
it along with the scopes enables you to produce excellent results
utilizing a Lift Gamma Gain. The exposure and the saturation
controls are manipulated by your typical slide control enabling
you to make that image pop. Regular color correction tools are
part of the package with your basic color wheels and masking
controls as well. Colorista is a native plug in for Final Cut
as an FX plug, Motion, and After Effects.
Image before Colorista
After Colorista was applied and adjustments were made. I wish I had discovered Colorista sooner. It performed beautifully and was as smooth as silk to use. Look how the frame of the Cape Buffalo pops out as compared to the original.
Often I recommend that various software developers should, at
the very least, have a couple of tutorials on their websites
enabling the new editor or user to accomplish the same effects
as the company brags about. This is unnecessary here as Red Giants
Software has a great many 'Getting Started' tutorials on their
website. The tutorial for the Magic Bullet Looks got me going
very quickly and the Colorista tutorial was both informative
Bottom Line Time!! Kudos must be given
to the developers at Red Giant for putting forth as much time
and effort as must have been necessary to completely revamp Magic
Bullet Looks as they have done. It is not often that you see
so many improvements and additional features in a 'new version'
as you will discover in MB Looks. It really is amazing to me
what a fine piece of software MB Looks has developed into. I
can't wait to start a new project that will make good use of
it. Either bought individually, or as an entire Suite, the combination
of Magic Bullet Looks, Colorista, Frames, and Instant HD make
for a powerful package of editing tools. The need of any of these
applications for the purpose they are intended will make their
use all the more appreciated. All my thumbs up for the Magic
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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