NAB: Magic Bullet currently only fires on the Mac

The Orphanage, a company founded by former Industrial Light + Magic visual effects artists, have announced the release of the Magic Bullet Suite 1.0 at this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference and exhibition in Las Vegas.

The Magic Bullet technology -- which has been used in such projects as Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky and the Cher video "Song for the Lonely" -- will be available initially as a suite of five plug-ins for Adobe After Effects, offering film and broadcast post professionals, visual effects artists and independent filmmakers finishing tools to make material originated on digital video exhibit all the characteristics of celluloid film. The software package can be purchased exclusively from Toolfarm.com.

Magic Bullet is a 24p Mastering system that lets you take original digital video, convert it to 24 frames per second, and "give you a simple, creative environment in which to make your footage look however you wish." It will allow you to output either to a sequence of image files to be sent to a film recording facility, to a digital video tape format, or both, while maintaining a film-like look. The first release of Magic Bullet is Mac only, supporting Mac OS 9 and X. A Windows version is due in the second quarter of the year.

Magic Bullet Suite 1.0 works by deinterlacing standard and high-definition video and converting it to a variety of progressive frame rates including 24p, while removing undesirable artifacts to enhance the final image. The software also provides a range of tools that emulate traditional motion picture film stocks, lens filtration, lab processes, and advanced telecine color correction techniques, according to Stu Maschwitz, chief technology officer of The Orphanage.

There are five Adobe After Effects plug-ins that make up Magic Bullet Suite 1.0. The workhorse of the Magic Bullet Suite is the Magic Bullet plug-in itself, which converts the video source to 24p and helps reduce some of the artifacts present in digital video footage. Since the artifact reduction process can be applied separately from the deinterlacing, this plug-in also offers an image enhancing tool for projects originated in progressive formats, such as 24p HD. Magic Bullet features a Auto Setup feature that lets users configure it to match the specifications of their footage with a one-click operation.

Look Suite is the artistic focal point of Magic Bullet Suite 1.0. It comes with a library of preset looks that mimic popular post-processes. Users can modify those presets using a wide range of tools or create their own from scratch. Because this tool works on any source material, it is of great use to anyone designing looks for celluloid film originated projects as well, Maschwitz said.

Opticals allow users to generate film-like transitions, including fades-to-black, burns-to-white and cross-dissolves. Letterboxer lets users crop their output to standard film and television aspect ratios, regardless of formats or pixel aspect ratios. Broadcast Spec ensures that the output of a Magic Bullet project meets NTSC broadcast standards by making adjustments to oversaturated colors that are barely perceptible by eye -- but critical on a broadcaster's scopes, Maschwitz said.

Broadcast Spec has presets for uncompressed digital video and DV, along with the ability to adjust settings with the aid of a zebra-striping technique that shows you exactly where problems could crop up, he added. Because this tool works on any source material, it is of great use to anyone creating broadcast imagery, Maschwitz said.

Tying the Magic Bullet Suite together is The Orphanage's DeepColor Technology. All color operations in Look Suite, Broadcast Spec, and Opticals are performed in an extremely high-fidelity color space, regardless of whether the user has the After Effects Production Bundle or not.

Magic Bullet Suite v1.0 comes in two versions: Magic Bullet Suite SD, which supports video resolutions up to 720 x 486 (NTSC) and 720 x 576 (PAL) and Magic Bullet Suite HD, which has no resolution limit. The former is US$995, the latter $1995.

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