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Magic Bullet 2 : Misfire

MisFire: Make a nice shot not so hot By Ko Maruyama
Here we are again with the family stuck in the car.

This time, instead of going "future blue", we'll take it back in time, before reliable gates and SUVs. Packaged along with Look Suite in Magic Bullet For Editors is MisFire. Stu has graceously provided a name to the plugin that will help you remember what it does. MisFire contains a toolset that will help you easily make "on target" shots stray from their mark.

In this instance, I've thrown LS_Sepia on to start, then brought down the pre-Gamma just a little. Remember, the favorites in Look Suite are aids to help you with your own color correction as well as just presets.

Next, duck into the Effects window, and open the Magic Bullet folder again. You should notice several MisFire parametes that are available to you. At the top of the list is MisFire itself. There are 13 different elements to the MisFire bundle, but you can find them all within the main MisFire plugin. Why not turn off the unwanted elements in the main plugin rather than having the separated elements? It would be a window-management nightmare. Especially considering the ability to stack filters, allowing for multiple elements with varying value:

In this example I have several versions of MisFire MicroScratches stacked up with varying frequency and opacity. Creating a layer like this takes advantage of the depth possible with this plugin. There's no reason to settle for one look for each of my MicroScratch clusters.

With that said, you can, if you want, set up a generic look with one stroke using the main MisFire plugin. While some of the plugins aren't exactly that of film property (film noise won't allow you to match a certain stock batch), the tools are excellent for the creative editor who would have previously had to resort to bending over backwards for these effects.

On the right, you can see the whole menu as it defaults.

Fading: You know what this is. As the film is "projected" it fades - or with age - fades. Increasing the strength fades the image even more (contrast). This will effect all of the other parameters of the plugin (where they might appear).

Funk: I'm sure that you will find a good use for this in time, even with the single control. It creates a color error, tone funk. Improperly stored film style.

Spotches: Ah yes. splotches. You know what to do.

Dust: There is both a projected and a neg dust (black and white) slider. Feel free to mix and match. The roto guys will want to kill you. "We just took those specks stuff out!" Don't turn around.

You may have noticed frequency sliders in both Spotches and Dust. If you don't want them to appear on the same frame cadence, you'll want different rates for each.

Flicker: Flickers. Sure it's simple, but that's the point. Try doing that with keyframes on a Levels plugin. 

Vignette: This produces a nice, soft radial gradient edge around the edge of frame. Don't ask, "Where's the triangle vignette?" These are filmic mimics, remember? I do wish there were a way to offset the vignette as if the lamp was not centered on the projector.

Displacement: As an After Effects distortion hound, I love this parameter.  I don't know how film truly warps in an imperfect storage situation, but you could produce a gate flutter with an isolated displacement area. It would also be nice to have a displacement map, so a grayscale image on another layer could effect.

Scratches: There are 3 different categories of scratches. They can all be separated, added on, or completely turned off. I highly, highly recommend this plugin for editors, if for nothing other than the scratches. This is by far the easiest way to produce nice looking, artificial scratches on your footage. Of course you can keyframe the number of scratches to simulate a portion of film slowing being chewed up.

Grain: A nice way to introduce a little noise into your footage. Note that there are softness sliders for each of the color channels, so you can introduce different amounts of noise based on the color channel. A very nice touch to a usually ham-handed effect. The Orphanage didn't skimp here. Not only do you have the opportunity to turn the noise color on/off, you can also soften the value of grain on each color channel. AND you can also control the areas where grain will be visible based on luminance values of the frame. Okay - another reason - I said previously, regarding scratches there was only one place to look for a reason to get MBFE, but if you're not into scratches, I highly, highly recommend this plugin for editors, if for nothing other than the grain. Next up, I'll make the same comment about the Gate Weave. ;)

Gate Weave: What every creative editor has been waiting for. The button that makes the frame jump up and down and all around, just like the producer wanted. Of course you know it's gate weave when they're waving their open hand at you back and forth; explaining that "It stutters like this. Really fast. Slow at first - then really fast." But you're thinkin' about all of those position and rotation keyframes that will be too close together, than too far apart, then more, then less. Well, here's your cure. The Gate Weave plugin - very simple - works like a charm.

Post Contrast: Last (and to me least) is Post Contrast. I'm not sure where this falls into a necessary plugin in MisFire. I would prefer to do the color grading in Look Suite. That said, this probably has an algorithm that handles the effect's parameters themselves as well as the image, but for me, it's just too simple. There are so many subtle changes you can make, and make well with Look Suite, why bother. Of course, it's in there in the event you find good use for it.

So in all my playing around with parameters of MisFire, I've forgotten to write values down and take pictures and turned keyframes on and off willy-nilly. I'll leave you with a simple quicktime for now, with promise of a tutorial to come.

For more looks and an interactive presentation of some of the capabilities of the plugin, check out the Flash presentation provided by Red Giant Software here: http://redgiantsoftware2.com/Web/demoBground.swf

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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