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

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    by Stu Maschwitz

Magic Bullet Suite 11

Red Giant today released Magic Bullet Suite 11, which includes a major update to Magic Bullet Looks, and a new effect called Cosmo for doing cosmetic retouches.

When I first designed Magic Bullet Looks, it was with the fundamental idea that a powerful tool can be fun to use. What the many creative users of Looks have taught me over the years is that a fun tool can be incredibly powerful. The new Looks is simpler and more elegant than the original, but also more capable. We’ve added support for popular video output boards, new scopes to help you dial in colors, and new creative tools such as Lens Distortion and Haze/Flare. We’ve also completely revamped the interface.

Cosmo is a simple effect that does only one thing, and does it really well. It makes people look great. If you’ve used the tools in Mojo or Colorista II for tuning skin tones and reducing blemishes, you’ll be right at home with Cosmo. We broke it out into its own effect because sometimes that’s all you need, but there’s also a Cosmo Tool in Looks.

Looks 2,” as we’ve been calling it internally, posed an interesting challenge. We’ve had enough time watching people use Looks (four years!) to learn what they like and don’t like. It basically boils down to power and simplicity. Looks users wield easy, fun control of a powerful set of creative tools. That’s something you don’t want to mess with. We considered a number of enhancements, but ultimately rejected several as adding too much complexity to the Looks experience. However, we did rebuild Looks on a solid foundation that will allow more frequent updates in the future, so please keep those feature requests coming.

In the meantime, here’s what I consider to be the standout features of Looks 2. First is the new UI. Designed by Mark Coleran, it’s the same Magic Bullet Looks full-screen UI, but cleaned up, modernized, and simplified.

The scopes are now in a scrolling column on the left. You can show or hide them all together, or twirl open just the ones you want. You can even reorder them.

The Hue/Saturation scope works like a format-agnostic vectorscope, complete with flesh tone line. But as much as video pros love to use that line to guide their corrections, I couldn’t help but feel that there should be easier ways. So Looks 2 features the skin overlay from Mojo and Colorista II, but in a much better implementation, since you can just leave it on all the time if you like — you’ll never accidentally render it.

But maybe even cooler than the overlay is the new Memory Colors scope. As I wrote a while back, an image will appear well-balanced when the colors of certain objects appear to match our memory of what they should be. Examples include blue skies, green foliage and people. Wherever your image is hitting the memory color targets, the Memory Colors scope will light up.

Looks now features some powerful tools from Colorista II, such as the three-way color corrector and the Ranged HSL Tool, which allows you to adjust individual colors with ease. There’s also a fun new Lens Distortion Tool that allows you to remove or introduce barrel and pincushion distortion, and a Haze/Flare tool that simulates light bouncing around chaotically inside a funky, uncoated lens.

We’ve also improved some of the classic Looks Tools. For example, you can now control the aspect ratio of a vignette. Of course you can continue to use all of your original Looks presets, including any Guru Packs you might have.

Maybe the most subtle improvement of the suite is that it’s now much easier to install. One installer manages all the plug-ins.

Director Seth Worley created a hilarious and awesome short film called Plot Device that shows off the new suite and celebrates a filmmaking spirit that anyone reading this site can appreciate. We showed the film at the simultanious tweet-ups in New York, Portland, and San Francisco last night to a huge response. And I don’t think it was just because of the free drinks.

Magic Bullet Looks is the flagship of the Magic Bullet Suite, and I’m thrilled to give it the update it has long deserved. I hope you have a blast with it.

Me showing Debbie and Ari how a Manhattan can look a little like a Cosmo in the right light, at the SF MB11 tweetup. Photo by Sean Safreed

Reader Comments (19)

Congratulations to the Red Giant team and specially to you Stu! this is looking better and better each year! by adding more applications for the same price! and especially the single installer! Cheers!

June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterRicardo Uribe

Great stuff. Cosmo looks very impressive but worth it for aspect ratio on vignettes alone :-)

upgrading for $399 to get versions for FCP7 and premiere and getting photo looks for Lightroom is a bargain

June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterJason Wingrove

feature request

Will there ever be a tracking feature?
Actually will Redgiant ever create a real tracker for Adobe's products both Premiere and AE
When will it be available for Redcine X as promised?
Since Color is dead, Will we ever see a realtime XML based timelined mutliclip/sequenced stand alone version of Looks?
Please don't say there's Resolve. Looks and resolve are two different approaches. We don't mind owning both.
Cosmo looks pretty cool.
I can't wait to upgrade and try both.

June 28, 2011 | Registered Commenterbluewan bos

Great suggestions Bluewan. Tracking, masking, and keyframing are among the top feature requests for Looks.

June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterStu

Sounds very cool - I love MB Looks and have used it since V1. But this is just depressing given Red Giant's dumping of Vegas. Especially since it's my opinion that the reason for soft sales is the never arriving 64-bit version of Looks or Suite which was a Red Giant issue - not Sony or Vegas customers. Plenty of other plugin developers are doing well selling Vegas plugs - and given the fact that Vegas 10 64-bit offers the performance of FCP X with DSLR but also Red etc. it seems very ironic. I'm too bummed even watch the launch video. I might use this in AE, but not be able to use it in Vegas makes it a questionable purchase.

Unless Boris ever updates their FX product to use AE plugs in 64-bit Vegas (with good stability and performance), I'm going to retire my MB and move to another vendor.

June 28, 2011 | Registered Commentertest

Hey Stephen, thanks for the comment. I'm sure you're right that we botched the Vegas thing, and I regret that Red Giant insinuated otherwise in a poorly-worded blog post. But even before we feel behind the Vegas version curve, we just couldn't sell enough copies of Looks for Vegas to make it worth the considerable investment to support multiple versions of an NLE that is adored by a passionate, but I'm afraid comparatively small, user base.

I'm sorry about our inability to make it work, and I'm happy to lay every ounce of responsibility for the situation at Red Giant's door. We just can't do it all.

June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterStu

Is there any chance of ever seeing an ofx version?

The memory color scope is wonderful.

As an idea for a future update, I would love to see a 'cinema sampler'

Here a entire sequence would be loaded from a movie and the colors analyzed and perhaps tagged. Looks would then compare the whole sequence to the clip to derive colors and maybe even grain and diffusion.

Be my postmodern pocket calculator.


June 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterCasey Basichis

Stu - I appreciate your response. And I will admit Sony has not done the best job of marketing Vegas vs. the competition. Vegas 10 has a DSLR engine that is often faster than the Mercury but they barely mentioned it during the launch.

But what about OFX? Vegas 10 does support it now. What if you release an OFX? That's a single standard supported by a range of apps with small and passionate user bases that would add up. Plus, it would support a nice standard that would be useful to expand the overall plugin market. Even if RG released in a "use at your own risk" version, I sure many of us would be interested.

I will volunteer to alpha and beta test :)

June 29, 2011 | Registered Commentertest

This plugin pack is great but what about color management in Looks and PhotoLooks? Version 10 didn't support AE and PS color management. As I see Version 11 also.

June 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterTomasz Zasada


What I would really like, is if you guys at RGS were to look into the possibility of using Clip Keyframes function within Adobe Premiere Pro, so that you can manipulate the extend to which Looks is applied to the footage, varying from 0 to 100%. This would make for some awesome transitions...

June 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterRichard

Hi - congrats on the new release, looks like a worthwhile upgrade. Any info on 32-bit support? Using Looks now with 32-bit images causes all sorts of problems, especially with blown highlights - they bleach out to form massive white splotches when using certain Looks effects, especially diffusion filters. Thanks!

June 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterChris Cousins

Tomasz, PhotoLooks has always supported color management—limited at first, but now we support several popular profiles. Where are you seeing otherwise? I don't think we've been very good at publicizing this feature.

Chris, Looks has always supported 32-bit color, from day one. That is precisely why the diffusion filters respond to the overbrights in your image. Most of the diffusion presets probably aren't expecting huge overbrights though, so you may have to turn them down a bit if you have them. Just like you'd use a subtler grade of diffusion filter in real life if you had crazy highlights in a scene.

You may also want to turn down the parameter called "highlights only." This is a control designed to help low-dynamic-range shots diffuse in a pretty way, but if you have HDR scenes you might not need it.

June 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterStu

Hi Stu - I've got wide gamut monitor (calibrated & profiled) - the sRGB image opened in Photoshop looks more saturated in PhotoLooks interface than in Photoshop window. The same is in After Effects with Color Management turned on. The rec709 footage is more saturated in Looks interface than in Composition tab view in AE. This shows that MB doesn't support Color Management... or maybe I'm doin something wrong.
I own Magic Bullet Suite 10.

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterTomasz Zasada

At the start of the year i switched over to FCP just for Color, why didnt i wait a few more months, this looks so much better.

Dose the UFO come with Look 2? :P

July 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterDimi Karkaliev

(Chris Cousins) If you are working with 32bit images, 3D renders etc you should have Looks setup with an input gamma of 1.0 (linear) a preview gamma of 2.2 and an output gamma of 1.0. Then it should work slightly better if you are working in a 32bit linearized space. You will have to rebuild your looks library for the new input output gamma. Maybe that is your problem?

Unless I'm missing something though Looks pays absolutely no attention to colour profiles and working space? So if you are working in rec.709 etc and using a combination of footage input profiles Looks will not match your AE preview pane. So if you are using a custom calibrated colour profile with your monitor you are out of luck, well that is my experience.
Is this because the looks application is actually external from AE, Colorista doesn't have this problem I believe?

July 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterRichard DeSouza

Hi Richard,

One thing you'll notice in the new Looks 2 is that we've removed the Input, Output and Preview tabs. We've also removed the Input and Output Tools, which means that we no longer allow the linear-light input workflow that you described.

I had always been proud of our powerful ability to account for various input and output color spaces, but ultimately that was a feature used by so very few people that it was not worth the complexity it introduced to the UI.

Looks 2 assumes an sRGB gamma curve, so if you want to feed it linear-light pixels, just apply a linear-to-sRGB conversion before, and then invert it after Looks to get your linear pixels back.

July 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterStu

Hi, Stu, Looks II works with the macbook pro 13" early 2011, with the Intel 3000 graphics card?, thanks for all the great work you do. I love the Mostly Coherent entry.

July 10, 2011 | Registered Commenterjose arce


I've noticed the same thing. I'm using Looks Builder 2.0 and I graded my image to my liking only to find out that once I hit OK and was back in After Effects it looked nothing like what I was just working on. Is there a setting that I have set incorrectly?

July 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterDustin Bowser

Same problem here. The preview picture in MBL is brighter than in AE CS6 and the same happens with Premiere CS6. What can we do to trust in MBL preview?

Thanks for your help!!

November 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterIsaac Viejo
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Sorry, comments are disabled temporarily while I tweak some stuff.
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