Saturday, January 15, 2011

Magic Bullet Colorista II

You looking at me?

I'm not big into promoting products.  However, every once in a while I do find tools that are worth mentioning.  Red Giant has quietly done a great job of building, and improving, their product line.  The Magic Bullet line, especially Colorista, is really starting to become a "must have" for, indies, editors and colorists.  One great thing is that they are compatible with Final Cut, After Effects and Premiere.  Why would you want an additional color correcting tool when you have perfectly good ones in Final Cut (Color) and After Effects (Color Finesse) or now, DaVinci Resolve?

Using Color (or DaVinci) requires a commitment.  They are professional color grading tools, the timeline needs to be prepared for ingestion and the interface is daunting for people with a limited color grading background.  Some projects, either due to the time or budget constraints, are just not worth the effort of going through that process.  Obviously, the flip side to this is if you really want to do more complicated work, then you are going to want to go through the effort of putting a sequence into Color, DaVinci or Color Finesse.  However, there are times when you just need to get things done and you want to keep the sequence in your editing software.  This is when Colorista comes into play.

I won't go into all the features of Colorista.  Red Giant, to their credit, have done an outstanding job of posting tutorials showing Colorista's features and how to use the product efficiently.  The new version has added some nice functionality (particularly the keyer) and makes it possible to do some pretty complicated corrections within Final Cut.  That said, having the tools and being a good colorist are not the same thing and not having basic tools, like a calibrated monitor, make it hard to create predictable (as in you are sure that what you are seeing is what is actually there) results.  The level of analysis and technical/artistic skill of a trained colorist cannot be replicated by a piece of software.

I really like Stu Maschwitz's tutorials, they are plain language and are geared towards just getting the job done for do-it-yourself indy film makers.  It is also fascinating to watch other colorists' thought processes while working and Stu has some quite interesting insights.  That said, his approach is just that, one approach and one set of eyes and I encourage anyone who uses the software to read further and play around with it to create their own vision.  One of the joys of this business is that watching and analyzing films is considered "work."  The other thing to note is that the workflow/interface used in Colorista varies a little bit from most "pro" color grading tools.  It's neither a good thing or a bad thing and I think that Stu deserves recognition for designing a product that is different and communicating directly with his end users about using it efficiently.

I own (and have paid for) and use Magic Bullet Colorista, Grinder, Looks, Mojo and DeNoiser.  For the do-it-yourself film maker, they open up a whole world of exploration and looks that previously was inaccessible.  For the working professional they are useful professional tools that you can add to your tool bag and use when they are the most efficient solution.

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