Kevin Luiz takes a deep dive into Red Giant's popular Magic Bullet and Shooter Suites, profiles their respective toolsets and gives some thoughts on workflow and usage.
In our last review, we took an in-depth look at Red Giant's software headliner Magic Bullet Looks. However, MBL is just the tip of the iceberg and Red Giant has more for us to explore. When we left off, we discussed MBL and its integration into your NLE of choice. MBL offers a separate pop-up app within your NLE to perform your color grading. Sometimes, when you are working quickly, you might want a coloring pallet without all the clutter of a complex grading platform; simplicity is key! This is where Colorista III comes into play.
Colorista III: Color Be Nimble, Color Be Quick!
Colorista III is a direct effect that can be placed onto your footage for a quick color correction or grade. Colorista features a 3-way color wheel, an overall saturation tool, hue, highlight and shadow control, along with the ability to alter your curves directly. Additionally, Colorista has a built-in ability to add a pop, vignette or even key select areas of your footage all within the effects panel. This makes Colorista a quick, yet powerful tool for fast turnaround. I am a sucker for absolute control, but I can understand when 90% of your image is already there and you just need that extra little push to get the job done. For me, that's what Colorista is all about!
Extra Goodies: Mojo, Cosmo, Denoiser, and LUT Buddy
Within Magic Bullet Suite 12, there are other goodies that offer a great deal of control over your image. For starters, Mojo 2.0 is offered as a standalone tool that can be placed directly onto your footage. Mojo is really interesting, as it punches your footage to a contrasty, filmic vibe. Think of it as building your own quick M31 LUT. You are able to stylize your footage with some great teal and orange vibes or go you can go in the opposite direction and warm things up a bit. Mojo's claim to fame is that it offers an action movie grade while still protecting the skin tones you hold so dear.
Speaking of skin tones, Cosmo 2.0 has been added to the list of tools in the suite. This is honestly one tool I find to use quite often. Cosmo has an interesting algorithm for detecting skin and you can increase or decrease this threshold to get exactly the areas of a face you need. Once you are dialed in, Cosmo will go to work on eliminating blemishes and also bringing those tones back to neutral levels.
About a year ago I was working on an interview with a teenage student and the craters/pimples in his face were extremely distracting. With Cosmo, I was able to smooth these out as well as keep his skin tones at a natural level, while cooling off the background. Cosmo really saved the day and it may save yours, too!
Lets face it: with all of these wonderful ways to grade your image, sometimes we overlook the fact that we are introducing noise when we push an image too far. Additionally, you might have an image that you captured at a higher ISO or perhaps was shot in a dimly-lit space. Whatever the cause, noise can be an unpleasant, distracting experience on the eyes. Red Giant has created a tool just for that called Denoiser II. This tool analyzes your footage and removes noise, smoothing it over your footage. You are able to retain a decent level of detail based on the parameters you select, but in my professional opinion, your image detail will take a slight hit regardless. Once you have denoised your footage, you could introduce an unsharpen mask back into the image at perhaps 50-75% sharpness with a radius of 1 and your image has a good chance of springing back to life.
LUT's are all the latest craze. A good look up table will allow for a stylized look without the hassle of trying to build a style yourself. There are many ways to go about this, but Red Giant has provided a very simple way to import / generate / export your own cubes via LUT Buddy. This simple to use "effect" can be applied directly to your footage allowing you to master craft your a style or import / export your own cube files. I primarily use LUT Buddy through the MBL panel for optimal integration, but again if your image is 90% there, you can cut the middleman by just applying your LUT directly.