Red Giant Software is a company that develops special effects applications for film and video editing, with credits in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Vanilla Sky, Grindhouse, and more. These applications are offered in two formats, as standalone applications or as plug-ins for most industry-leading editing software. Red Giant offers up many software solutions, but one of their most powerful is a color correction application called Magic Bullet Looks that is actually a plug-in for heavy-duty pro applications.
What many of you may not know, however, is that this is a completely redesigned program from the original, which allegedly had a slightly buggier interface and fewer options, and compatibility with only After Effects. The reinvention of “Looks” incorporates every industry standard video editor, a redesigned interface, and more advanced features.
Magic Bullet is one of the most complex video editing applications I have used in a while, but thankfully it’s also one of the easiest to use. This app is loaded with 100 look presets which are meant as a starting point, and literally allow infinite possibilities for color correction (which you can then save as a custom look).
The time line is organized in to 5 parts: Subject, Matte Box, Lens, Camera, and Post, which helps in discerning which order to apply the effects. I found this to be both a burden and a blessing at times, in that it is nice having a guide for laying effects, but at certain times I wish I had the option of placing an effect in any spot on the time line, rather than where an effect is supposed to go.
I was a bit skeptical of this application when I first installed it. I didn’t believe an application that was so powerful could be so easy to use. The interface of Looks seamlessly integrates with Final Cut Pro or any other editor and jumping from Final Cut to Magic Bullet Looks is as simple as creating an effect for the selected clip, and customizing it.
When I first installed Looks I was worried that it might slow Final Cut down, or cause my system to run a little slower. However, I was surprised when I witnessed no slow down. However, I did notice that it took slightly longer to render my footage. Magic Bullet Looks flawlessly made my footage look like it was shot on 35mm, which is one desire every videographer has in common. It isn’t easy to sell a piece of software for $399/$99 upgrade, but compared to the thousands of dollars you would spend forking out for a professional quality camera, this is a fraction of the cost without sacrificing much.
I installed Magic Bullet Looks for Final Cut Studio 2, and after using this software on several projects of my own, I have fallen in love.
These are before and after shots of footage I used Magic Bullet Looks on. The look here is a custom one I built myself, which is fairly simple to do.
I found that the possibilities for looks was literally endless, and that this would be a great tool for someone working in this industry. Red Giant Software has an example page demonstrating various aspects of this application at work.
Every filmmaker has one desire in common, and that is to create a distinct look for his or her footage. Whether that be wedding footage, or the next Oscar worthy film. The thing many people do not realize, however, is that being a filmmaker is similar to being a magician, in that neither want to reveal their secrets. The point is, the best effects are the ones you don’t see, and Magic Bullet Looks passed with flying colors.