Product Review: Page (1) of 5 - 04/18/03 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Magic Bullet Suite 1.1

Film look process for video By Stephen Schleicher
It is all the rage these days; with the huge numbers of independent movie makers out there, the falling cost of digital cameras (Canons XL-1S, Sonys PD-150, and the Panasonic AG-DVX100), non-linear editing systems (Avid Xpress DV, Apples Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere), and motion graphics applications (Commotion and Adobe After Effects), it is no wonder so many people are trying to make their video look like it was shot on film.

Since the early to mid ?90s companies have been selling plug-ins for some of the most popular post production applications out there, each with varying results. Recently The Orphanage and their distributor Red Giant Software have released Magic Bullet Suite 1.1 on the world. Available for the Mac and PC platforms, this plug-in for Adobe After Effects has gone beyond what other plug-ins have tried in the past they actually create a very believable shot on film effect.

To test the claims put forth by Red Giant Software, I did a fairly extensive test with some DV footage I shot a year or so ago. For the main test(s) I used footage from the following clip. In this scene the head of an investigative department is chewing out her subordinate. The head of the department ends up being ?one of the bad guys in the end so selecting an appropriate look was very important.

Magic Bullet Suite is a really amazing application that is really five plug-ins in one. The first is the namesake of the plug-in Magic Bullet, which converts 30i video into 24p footage that can be used in After Effects. As soon as you apply Magic Bullet, it begins interpreting the footage and preparing it for the 24p realm or if you want to keep it 30fps you can create a 30p track. The de-interlacing works exceptionally well, and produces great results right out of the box. While you can tweak the de-interlacing settings to try and improve the process, I found that the default setting do an excellent job.

If you just need to de-interlace footage, Magic Bullet probably isnt the cheapest solution for the job, but considering some of the other film look treatments you may be doing to your video, it fits.

During this conversion process Magic Bullet also attempts to remove digital artifacts caused by digital compression. For my tests I used DV footage shot on my Sony PD-150. As everyone knows (or should know), DV footage has to go through some heavy compression in order to get all the data on to tape. The results of this compression tend to leave blocky chunks of video in your image, especially in the Red and Blue channels (those being more compressed than the Green channel).

Magic Bullet Suite analyzes the data and does a fairly good job of restoring (or is it adding?) detail back into the image.

The footage (enlarged 400%) shows some chunking of the DV data as well as interlacing problems. Click for larger image.

After deinterlacing and deartifacting, the image looks much better, and some detail has been added back to the image especially in the lip/red area of the image. However some details have been added to the clip as well (see the extra data in the right eye). Click for larger image.

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Related Keywords:magic bullet suite, film look, plug-in, after effects, make video look like film, schleicher, red giant software, look suite, deinterlace, 24p, film to video


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