Simple, elegant screenwriting.

  • 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

Entries in Color (103)


Magic Bullet Mojo for FCP X

Today Red Giant announced Magic Bullet Mojo for Final Cut Pro X. Hooray!

Mojo was conceived as a super simple effect for creating a sexy look quick, with a minimum of fuss. I designed it to be based entirely on sliders and other controls easily ported from one application to another, so that we could make it a screaming good deal and get it working on as many hosts as possible.

That turned out to be a lucky move, because so far it’s almost the only Magic Bullet plug-in that Final Cut Pro X can support. Both the graphical controls that Colorista II uses and the dense “custom data” blocks that Magic Bullet Looks relies on are victims of bugs or shortcomings in the initial release of FCP X.

The good news is that Red Giant is working directly with Apple on addressing these issues. But rather than simply tell you that and expect you to believe it, we knuckled down and got Mojo working as quickly as we could so that you’d know we’re taking FCP X seriously.

And by “we,” I mean the hard-working Engineering and QA folks at Red Giant, not me. I just got to sit back and watch.

Mojo is a dream in FCP X. It plays back at 1080p in near real time on my iMac without rendering, but the background rendering is so seamless you’ll never even know its happening. Love it or hate it, FCP X really nailed the whole background processing thing, and it’s fun for me to see one of our tools working so seamlessly with the new architecture.

For one week only, Mojo is on sale for $49, which is roughly half price (use coupon code MOJOFCPX). And that’s one license that works in every host Mojo supports — so if you’re in NLE limbo right now, Mojo can be a companion to you as you wander. Mojo for FCP X is a free update for existing customers, as will be all of the Magic Bullet Suite updates for FCP X as they become available — or possible.


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


Mostly Coherent

I was the guest host on this week’s Mostly Photo show with Leo Laporte and Lisa Bettany. We talked about shooting stills and video and getting the most out of post-processing, and I showed off some video gear from Redrock Micro and Zacuto. I’ve been a huge fan of Leo’s entrepreneurial empire and Lisa’s photography for years, so it was a blast getting to hang with them.

Click the photos to jump directly to my three tips:

I used this shot to talk about what I call “decoy shooting.” Canon 5D, 50mm F1.4.

I used this shot as an example of achieving apealing (i.e porange) skin tones. Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm F1.2L.

I used this shot as an example of color contrast, and showed how to use the split-tone controls in Adobe Lightroom to achieve this look. This image is available as a free iPad wallpaper here. Canon 5D, 24–105 F4L.

Lisa very kindly mentioned my Fact, Moment, Light post. Please do check it out if you’re a new visitor to Prolost!


Final Cut Pro X

Apple took over the Final Cut Pro User Group Supermeet at NAB in Las Vegas last night to show a preview of the complete reboot of Final Cut Pro that Steve Jobs himself tersely teased a year ago.

Apple hasn’t realeased anything official for those who weren’t there, but these videos are OK. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, FreshDV has excellent condensed coverage. And there are worthwhile write-ups from Larry Jordan (who was one of the few who saw this six weeks ago at Apple), Scott Simmons, and Walter Biscardi. UPDATE: And a first-the-bad-news impression by Mike Jones.

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