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.