Since the early days of television, making video look like film has been as difficult as turning lead into gold. Magic Bullet Suite 1.0 Standard Definition edition, a set of After Effects 5.5 plug-ins developed by The Orphanage and distributed by Red Giant Software, takes a great step toward this elusive goal. But don’t expect the leap to be easy — your talent and the amount of time you spend tweaking your video will greatly affect the quality of your results.
A good filmlike look starts with high-quality progressive images. Magic Bullet converts interlaced video to 24- or 30-fps (frames per second) progressive video — no easy feat. As it deinterlaces the video, Magic Bullet preserves as much detail as possible with its Motion Detection feature. Magic Bullet can also reduce the artifacts inherent in digital video.
The suite fared well with most footage, but shots with fast panning presented problems: at 24 fps, there was severe strobing in some sections. For the best results, we needed to keyframe the Motion Detection and Detail Pattern Size settings, which was irritating because Magic Bullet also slows rendering.
Look Suite is the aesthetic center of Magic Bullet, with presets that emulate popular film-shooting styles and postlab processes, such as Bleach Bypass and 3-Stripe color printing. The results are surprisingly realistic, and you can make your own presets for future use.
The other three components of Magic Bullet Suite are also present in Final Cut Pro and Avid Xpress DV. Broadcast Spec and Letterboxer do what their names imply. The Opticals component matches film dissolves and fades better than most video-editing programs.
The plug-in set takes full advantage of the 16-bit color workspace provided by After Effects 5.5 Production Bundle. It can also convert video from the PAL standard to the NTSC standard and back again — very handy for video pros.
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Magic Bullet Suite 1.0 Standard Definition edition goes a long way toward giving digital video an authentic filmlike look. Video pros now have a real option when it comes to creating true filmlike quality — if they have patience.