Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Red Giant Color Suite, with Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 and Colorista II

  • Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz

Magic Bullet Looks

For those who missed the demos at NAB, here's a little taste.

First things first—these are pre-alpha screenshots, so everything's subject to change.

When you apply the effect (in AE, PPro, FCP, Motion or Avid), you see this gray box in the host. It defaults to empty, but after you apply a look, the box shows you the "tool chain" of that look.

Click Edit and the LooksBuilder app launches. Beneath the image is the tool chain, which is processed left-to-right. It's actually a model of a camera, starting with the light that enters the lens and ending with post-production. More on that later.

Mouse over to the left and a drawer opens with thumbnails of the look presets. The thumbnails show your image, not a canned one—rendered in realtime. Pick from any of the presets, or view a slideshow of the presets in the Look Theater.

On the right is a drawer full of tools. You use these to build looks from scratch, or edit the presets. The tabs at the top of the drawer switch between the various categories (matte box, lens, camera, etc.).

The controls for the selected tool shows up in the right pane. Whenever possible, controls are in real-world units, like t-stops or filter grades. Below I'm using an Edge Softness tool to create an artificial shallow depth-of-field look.

When you drag tools out from the drawer, an image of a camera appears. Some tools, such as lens filters like Diffusion and Gradient, only operate in one category of the camera. Others, like Exposure, work anywhere in the chain. The camera diagram reminds you that you're building a simulation of how light travels through a camera and is modified by film stocks and post-processes such as Bleach Bypass (neg or print), custom film stocks, and color correction. Here I'm adding a Telecine Net tool to the Post category.

Of course you can save out your own look presets, but if you design some tool settings that you want to re-use or share, you can save those as well by simply giving the tool a name. Custom tools appear at the bottom of the tool drawer. Looks will ship with preset custom tools for common lens filter and film stocks.

Whichever host application you use, you work with the same interface and presets. And you don't even need a host application—you can launch LooksBuilder as a standalone app and load a still frame on which to develop a look. So you could design a look on set based on a grab from your Panavision Genesis camera, and hand that look file on down through the post process so that it can be used in the FCP edit and even in the final conform.

Looks is color-space agnostic, with input/output tools for video, Cineon scans, and Panavision's Genesis camera. More to come. This means you can design a look on an offline telecine transfer and then apply it later to scanned 35mm film!

All processing is floating point color, GPU accelerated. Since you can take video in and output log, you can actually prep video for a filmout all inside of Looks. By boosting the contrast in Looks you'll create overexposed areas that will map into the upper ranges of the filmout, eliminating that flatenened-out highlight look that many video-to-film transfers have.

Once you've placed your tools in the chain you can hit a key and enter "trackball mode," which allows users of trackballs or laptop trackpads to edit tool controls in an almost control-surface type of way. The keyboard navigates you from one control to the next and the trackball edits the values. Not quite the same thing as using a JL Cooper rig, but costs a ton less.

My goal with Looks is that it's fun and easy for a hobbyist, but powerful enough for the pros. But mainly I designed it to be my partner in crime for all my digital filmmaking endeavors.

Questions/comments/suggestions welcome!

Reader Comments (36)

you are such tease

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Looks cool, if not a little cryptic because of no text yet. I look forward to that. On an unrelated note, I noticed the Google ads on the right. A few of them were for the "Magic Bullet Blender" and I thought it was a new suite you guys came out with, but realized that it was that crappy little thing on the infomercials for blending food.

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Man, folks are worried that your products will suffer. In the overall scheme of things, please. Apple is Apple, man. What can you do when they're innovating just like you Stu. They;re just bringing more dollars and resources.

The Looks Suite you've created definitely has a place. I'm hoping that it is an upgrade from MB Editors which is what I have.


April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Yes, Magic Bullet Looks is the replacement for Magic Bullet Editors. You will be able to upgrade to the latest and greatest in July with CS3 and FCP Studio 2.

I am not that worried about Apple Color. Looks is like driving a zippy speed boat, while Color is like piloting a cruise ship--both can get you there but one is quick and easy, the other requires dedicated training.

Sean Safreed
Red Giant Software

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I spoke with an Apple employee (one of the former Silicon Color guys) at NAB about making Looks work as a plug-in to Color and he assured me that it was possible. We're not in competition with Apple at all—we just have a new host to support, and a really cool one at that. Although I do agree with Sean that not everyone will take the time to learn Color and migrate their workflow over. But they'll have that choice, and choice is good.

Back in the day I designed the original Magic Bullet to convert my video to 24p, but no one was a more vocal advocate of true 24p cameras than me. You'll never hear me decrying innovation or democratization. Bring it on!

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

I was at the demo on Tuesday and was very impressed with Magic Bullet Look. It seemed like you guys thought of everything. The best part to me is the interface. Awesome! It reminds me a little of discreet apps, especially how you move things to the trash.

I told someone about it at the FCPUG (where I won a Firestore 60G, woohoo) and he asked why would I use it instead of Color and I said simplicity. Maybe it was the way Stu demo-ed it but it looks very intuitive yet sophisticated. Good job Stu and RGS. Can't wait to get my hands on it.


April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This looks so sweet!

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

You knew this was coming of course, but will 'Looks' work within Fusion as a host application (maybe through the AE adapter?)

Looks very nice. (no pun intended) ((okay, maybe a little))

April 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSander de Regt

Hi Stu, that image with the dog looks terrific, ok, it´s small, maybe wrong impression, anyway, how was it treated ?


April 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPriyesh

The dog looks pretty healthy, so I guess it was treated well.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist that one.

April 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSander de Regt

Upgrading for $99 from MBE 2.0 sounds like a no brainer. Will this upgrade offline the "old" MBE 2.0 plugins like the previous upgrade?

For example on the last upgrade if I opened up a color reversal filter from MBE 1.0 the plug-in went offline and the only way to fix it was re-color correct it or uninstall the new MBE and load the old MBE.

April 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGerry

Hey Priyesh,

Wherever possible, the tool icons show you some kind of clue as to the effect they have on the image. If you examine the tool chain, you'll see that the handsome mutt is being treated with the following tools: First a Spot Exposure tool brightens up his face. Then a Grad Exposure knocks down the floor below him. That's under "Subject." Then, in the matte box, a subtle diffusion filter softens the light. In the Lens, an Edge Softness tool fakes some shallow DOF, and an Anamorphic Flare tool adds the blue streaks you see on the windows. Then in the Camera, saturation is dropped and a contrast curve is applied. Lastly, in Post production, a Lift/Gamma/Gain color correction (like Colorista) is applied.

April 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Sander, are you really sure the dog´s ok ? ;-)

Stu, thanks a lot for the accurate breakdown, your Colorista demos already blew me away.
But now it seems we have to get both, Colorista AND Magic Bullet Looks. How could both packages be compared ?

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPriyesh

What happened to Vegas support?

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

Priyesh, Colorista is a color corrector, whereas Looks is designed to apply a cinematic look to color corrected footage. They are designed to work together. While Looks contains similar functionality to Colorista, you probably wouldn't want to use Looks to color correct, since it works in its own UI as opposed to right there in the host app.

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

why such strict adherence to the camera model? one of the things that excites me about new tech is when it departs from the established models, especially those rooted in practical (and thus limited) applications.

for me, the confining of the workflow to a realworld analog isn't attractive, nor is using those analogs to describe and direct the workflow. many times its confusing - and ultimately now that our footage has been freed from the constraints of analog film, why would i want to use tools that don't reflect that?

that probably sounds harsher than i intend it - im an avid fan of mb editors version which i used extensively on my short film. but when you mentioned that relationship to the realworld process i kinda cringed. it's not something im terribly familiar with nor interested in learning the finer details of. know what i mean?

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdeepstructure

Deepstructure, have no fear: there's a "secret" setting that will allow you to break the camera model and order the tools however you like.

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Well, since no answers forthcoming here, I dug around on the net and it appears Vegas is dropped from supported NLEs. I realize it's not the number 1 selling NLE, but it is the most DV Rebel NLE out there. Stable, runs on average machines, great interface and the best audio tools (as good as ProTools and IMHO better than Protools).

I use MB Editors for most all my quick and dirty projects.

Disappointing. And judging my the same reaction in Vegas forums, I'm not the only one.

April 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

Looks great! I tried to see your demo on Wednesday afternoon at NAB, but there were so many people I could not even see the screen, and couldn't hear your either, so I am glad you posted about it. I will certainly train myself to use color, but that doesn't mean I won't be using Magic Bullet Suite as well.

April 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJonah Lee

Thanks Jonah! Sorry you couldn't see the demo. :(

April 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Hi Stu, enjoyed your demo (saw the 2nd one) at NAB. I'm getting the RED camera and I'm still trying to wrap my head around a 4K workflow for online. Seems like Apple FCP/Color will limit me to 2K, but so far I'm not clear how to pull a 4K final online out on either Mac or PC using REDCODE (without shelling out big bucks for Scratch). I'm wondering if I can use FCP for offline and somehow adapt your DV Revel workflow to accomodate the uncompressed files that REDCINE can spit out for onlining. But where do I do color correcting? AE with MB/Colorista/Looks plug in? Will you be creating a supplement to your DV Revel guide geared towards RED ONE/REDCINE?

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Will MB Looks output to the frame buffer of my AJA Xena card, whilst run as a plugin from PP2 or CS3 PP?


April 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Can you frame buffer Magic Bullet Looks to say a AJA Xena or Kona2 card from your relevant NLE?

May 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterClown

I don't think there will be frame buffer support.

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

We're hoping not to need it—if we can pass images back to the host app fast enough you'll get good preview on your video out.

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Thanks for the reply Stu.

It has been said earlier in this thread that Colorista would be used to prepare the clip for Magic Bullet Looks (MBL), however, why can you not just use MBL, as it has a 3-Way Color Corrector and curves nodes, etc?

I would appreciate it if you would kindly elaborate on the benefits of using both?

I intend to purchase both, when MBL is released, though thought that perhaps just using 1 plugin, instead of say 2, would also benefit processing speed?

Thannks Stu.

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterClown

Why have you guys dropped support for
sony vegas? Magic bullet is awesome
and i cant wait for this version, but
im a dedicated vegas user as it is
the most forward thinking NLE on the market, and i use magic bullet in
all my work...
Stephen posted on this topic earlier
and ther was no response..why drop
support for vegas STU?...

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hi Anonymous,

Your question is totally reasonable, but I'm not the one to get all CAPS with. It's Red Giant's call—I just design the thing.

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Im sorry for sounding a bit harsh
stu, in regards to why support for
sony vegas has been dropped. But
the reason is, i totally adore Magic Bullet and how it integrates
beautifully with sony vegas, and
was eagerly looking forward
towards this upgraded plugin.

So you can understand my
disappointment a bit. Can you
shed any light why red giant has
dropped support for vegas...i
contacted them already in regards
to this, and yet, no response.

I know its also available as a standalone...but trust me, its not
the same free flowing workflow.

June 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

just taking a guess about Vegas ..notice you don't see many 3rd party plugin's for Vegas ..
i don't think Vegas internal engine operates like other applications where you see many plugin's offered .... i believe Vegas uses "video for windows ( VFW)" and that could be part of the problem ?
also i think VFW has Vegas stuck in 8 bit processing and until microsoft updates that to 10 bit Vegas will be stuck in 8 bit ...

June 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I thought I saw somewhere were MB looks would not work with the new Intel Mac's? We are currently using FCP 5.1.4 for now.

September 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNorthernlight Filmworks

No worries, Magic Bullet Looks was demoed at NAB on an Intel Mac, and I test it daily on my MacBook Pro. It's fully Intel-native.

September 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Stu. I'm going nuts for this thing. Want to road test it on two projects that must be finished soon. Stop teasing it us and hook a brother up. I want me some MB Looks now! :) Hoping there will be a download version.

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJack Daniel Stanley

Not coming today, I guess. Would be nice to have an update though.

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark D.

Guys, I've gotten a few comments here that should be directed to Red Giant Software support. Installation issues, memory errors, etc. I'm not going to publish any more of these comments because this isn't the right place for them and my fear is that they could get lost in the shuffle. If you're having any troubles with Magic Bullet Looks, please contact RGS directly!

October 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStu

Hi Stu,

Will Magic Bullet Looks be able to work on non-NVidia and non-ATI graphics card based system at some point? My main workhorse is a Lenovo laptop which doesn't use those chips. :-(


December 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Wu
Member Account Required
You must have a free and harmless member account in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting. I don't use your information for anything, I just want you to be who you are.
« Color My Impression | Main | Gold Rims on the Hoopty »