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 (102)


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.


Two Free Color Correction Plug-ins from Red Giant Software

Today Red Giant Software released two new Magic Bullet effects for Final Cut, Premiere, and After Effects, and they are 100% free for any kind of use.

First up is Colorista Free. Part of the goal of the original Colorista was to create a single, easy-to-use 3-way color corrector that would be consistent across multiple platforms. When we updated it to Colorista II, the goal expanded to packing as much color correction power as could possibly fit into one effect. Colorista II has been extremely popular, which warms my heart, because it means filmmakers everywhere are putting real care into their color correction work.

But I never lost sight of that original goal of creating a color corrector that everyone could use. I pointed out to the team that Rebel CC continues to be a popular download from Prolost. We joked internally that Colorista II was so powerful, we should just give the original Colorista away for free.

And then I stopped laughing.

Colorista Free isn’t exactly the original Colorista. It lacks a few features, most notably Power Masks. But by stripping it down to something simple, we enabled a feature that even Colorista II can’t boast: CDL compatibility.

CDL stands for Color Decision List. Like an EDL, but for color corrections, the CDL is a method of sharing simple, primary grades between different systems. It was created by the American Society of Cinematographers and is supported by nearly all high-end color grading systems.

Twirl open the CDL section of Colorista Free and you’ll see nine sliders called Slope, Offset, and Power. These, along with the Saturation control, are the ten values that the CDL uses to communicate a grade. You can edit them directly if you like, but you don’t have to—they are a mirror of the color wheels. If you have CDL values from another system, you can enter them manually, or create a scripted workflow that transfers values to and from these sliders.

The CDL is an emerging standard and the workflows surrounding it are not set in stone, so we’re releasing Colorista Free as “workflow ready,” in part to help encourage people to use the CDL, and maybe even share the scripts and tools they use to build a workflow around Colorista Free and other CDL-compliant tools.

If you want an easy way to ensure that CDL values stay attached to your shots, Colorista Free allows you to burn them in to the image. In this way you could do a rough color pass on an edit and send it along to an online color session. The colorist can use the values burned-in to the image as a starting point for their grading, even if they don’t have an automated CDL pipeline.

Or you can just ignore all that stuff and add a free color corrector to your arsenal, confident that you can share your projects with others without requiring them to buy any plug-ins.

Magic Bullet Colorista Free works with Adobe After Effects CS3, CS4 and CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and Final Cut Pro 6 and 7.

LUT Buddy is also about sharing color corrections, but in a completely different way. Look Up Tables, or LUTs for short, are compact files capable of holding complex color adjustments. People use LUTs to share color grades, simulate display devices and film stocks, and correct gamma and color space issues. The problem is, they’re hard to make. LUT Buddy solves that handily by drawing an unfolded color cube on your image. You can then color correct it however you like. A second application of LUT Buddy reads the corrected colors from the cube and stores the adjustment as a LUT. You can then save that LUT in a variety of formats, or load it back in to LUT Buddy to apply the color correction. With LUT Buddy, a ten-layer-deep color correction can be compacted into one, tiny file that can be loaded into almost any high-end system, and even used for real-time previews on set.

Magic Bullet LUT Buddy works with Adobe After Effects CS3, CS4 and CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Final Cut Pro 6 and 7, and Motion 3 and 4.

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