Red Giant Magic Bullet Movie test and review

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Red Giant Magic Bullet Movie Looks

High-quality film-look filters don't have to break the bank. Magic Bullet Movie Looks is available as a free trial with a low-cost upgrade

In testing Red Giant's big film-look effects package, Magic Bullet Suite, two of our biggest complaints were the software's high price (£825), and the fact that it isn't available for use with popular editing programs. That's not the end of the story, though. Users of Adobe Premiere Pro are given the opportunity of downloading something called Magic Bullet Movie Looks when they register the software. And, as a mere 630KByte download, there's really no reason why they shouldn't grab it there and then.

Magic Bullet Movie Looks lacks the immense degree of control offered by its big brother (or any real degree of control at all, for that matter), but it's still a worthwhile addition to the editor's toolbox. The basic download offers ten ready-made movie-grading effects filters, and the opportunity to add another 40 for an online payment of US$49.

Free stuff
The free plug-in installs into the Video Effects directory of Premiere Pro's Effects palette, in its own sub-folder called Magic Bullet. There's only one plug-in there, Movie Looks, and it's applied by dragging onto a clip or sequence on the timeline. In Premiere's effects control window, users can choose the effect type, opt to preserve alpha channels, and blend the effect with the original footage to reduce the effect if need be.

Ten preset looks are provided for free. Artistic is a rich and dramatic black-and-white filter with a healthy dose of diffusion. Bistro, on the other hand, is rich and heavily saturated, apparently designed to emulate the look of the film Amelie. There are three general filmic filters, called Filmic, Filmic Cool and Filmic Warm, which do pretty much what their names suggest - adding filmic tones to the picture with warmer or cooler variations to suit the mood you're trying to create. Two versions of the green-tinted Matrix-inspired filter are provided - Neo Light and Neo Dark - as are two aged-looking War Epic looks and a red-tinted sepia tone.

Premiere's real-time preview capabilities allow individual frames to be inspected - and even some jerky scrubbing through the timeline if you're running a fast system. FireWire output also allows results to be fed through a camcorder, DV deck or AV/DV converter box for viewing on a TV set or video monitor. This is essential for any colour-correction processes - especially when working on a laptop where a change in viewing angle can give a different impression of contrast and saturation.

Applying film-look filters in an editing program will make a lot more sense to many editors than bringing over a finished project for re-working in After Effects. And, even with limited controls, Magic Bullet's Movie Looks is a great addition to Premiere Pro's effects palette, and we can see it being used far more often than many of the crazy emboss, watercolour, mosaic or pencil-sketch filters that come supplied as standard with almost every DV editor.
The long rendering times are a pain, but immediate DV output from the timeline gives a pretty good idea of how projects will look before committing to the long haul of export. For short-form projects, this shouldn't be too traumatic. Movie Looks is a first-rate plug-in, at a keen price, and we hope to see it developed for a range of editing programs in the near future.

Peter Wells

Read the full review in July 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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Roxio Easy Media Creator 7

Lumidium DigiRostrum DV Ken Morse Edition

Total Training for Adobe After Effects 6

Red Giant Magic Bullet Movie Looks

In July's news:

Sony DVD Architect and Vegas go pro
Premiere Pro upgrades
Updated Adobe Video Collection
Apple authoring MkIII
Canopus Imaginate: Part II
Smarter After Effects
Bringing Dolby Digital 5.1 home
Sony shrinks DVD camcorders
Mac tracker
Graphics cards get interesting - and faster, too
£999 Tiny Athlon 64 laptop

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