Final Cut Tutorials: Grading plug-ins in Final Cut X

Post Production tricks in Final Cut Pro X with Magic Bullet Looks

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  • MB Looks Pack Shot Intro
  • Grading Tools 1. Grading Tools
  • Bleach Bypass 2. Bleach Bypass
  • Increased Contrast 3. Increased Contrast
  • Reduced Contrast 4. Reduced Contrast
  • Re lighting in Post 5. Re-lighting in post
  • Changing the Mood 6. Changing the Mood
  • Time Changes 7. Time Changes
  • Day for Night 8. Day for night
  • Fast Tints 9. Fast Tints
  • Flashback Effects 10. Flashback Effects
  • Soft Shadows 11. Soft Shadows
  • Adjust Specific Hues 12. Adjust Specific Hues
  • Isolated Effects 13. Isolated Effects
  • Virtual Skies 14. Virtual Skies
  • Focusing Attention 15. Focusing Attention
  • Learning from the Presets Bonus Tip: Learning from the Presets
  • More stories
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Intro

In the previous Masterclass, we looked at making multiple colour corrections to clips in FCP X using Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Looks plug-in.

In this article, we’ll be looking deeper into Looks, and at how colour adjustments can change the mood of a shot and communicate that atmosphere to the audience. We’ll also look at how to set up various styled genre treatments, how to apply technical post production adjustments, and cover techniques that change the location and time of day of a scene.

We’ll be focusing on the tools within Magic Bullet Looks, so have a look at the previous article for a reminder how to apply the filter to single and multiple clips within FCP X. 

Magic Bullet Looks costs $399, works with multiple hosts, including FCP 7, FCP X, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Sony Vegas, and Avid Media Composer, and is cross platform. It’s available as a download from www.redgiantsoftware.com.

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Next Prev MB Looks Pack Shot

In the previous Masterclass, we looked at making multiple colour corrections to clips in FCP X using Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Looks plug-in.

In this article, we’ll be looking deeper into Looks, and at how colour adjustments can change the mood of a shot and communicate that atmosphere to the audience. We’ll also look at how to set up various styled genre treatments, how to apply technical post production adjustments, and cover techniques that change the location and time of day of a scene.

We’ll be focusing on the tools within Magic Bullet Looks, so have a look at the previous article for a reminder how to apply the filter to single and multiple clips within FCP X. 

Magic Bullet Looks costs $399, works with multiple hosts, including FCP 7, FCP X, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Sony Vegas, and Avid Media Composer, and is cross platform. It’s available as a download from www.redgiantsoftware.com.

 

Step 2 of 17: 1. Grading Tools

Plug-ins are most useful when they extend the functionality of the host software, whilst also  enabling repetitive tasks to be completed more quickly. The key to Magic Bullet Looks is the range of tools that contain multiple types of corrections and the ability to combine these tools together in a chain.

 

Step 3 of 17: 2. Bleach Bypass

The Print Bleach Bypass tool mimics the film processing method of skipping the bleach stage which in turn leaves silver grains on the film. Increased contrast, reduced saturation and overlay adjustments are combined within a single tool. Increase the Silver Retention value for more gritty and dramatic looks. 

 

Step 4 of 17: 3. Increased Contrast

Our eyes are attracted to high contrast images, which means bright highlights and dark shadows, which is why this technique is used for many action and thriller movies. When using the Contrast tool, take care to keep the highlights under 1.0 on the RGB Parade in the Scopes panel, by adjusting the Pivot and Exposure Compensation controls.

 

Step 5 of 17: 4. Reduced Contrast

Conversely, reducing contrast decreases the perceived detail in an image and can be useful to convey a mood or genre to the audience. Lower the contrast setting in the Contrast tool and combine this with an orange tint using the Colorista 3-Way, and then add some virtual grain with the Film Grain tool to simulate a faded old film look.

 

Step 6 of 17: 5. Re-lighting in post

The ability to adjust a scene in post production, gives you more freedom of choice at the editing stage. Set the exposure tool to a negative value, and then re-light isolated parts of the scene using the Spot Exposure tool. Use the on-screen controls to change the shape and aspect of your virtual lights, and the colour wheel to change their temperature.

 

Step 7 of 17: 6. Changing the Mood

Using the colour wheel to change the color of the light affects how the audience perceives the scene. Cool, or blue tinged colors denote more dramatic moments, while warmer colours tend to suggest a softer or friendlier mood. The presets in the Basic category contain warm, and cool looks, as well as treatments to improve the vibrance and sharpness of a shot.

 

Step 8 of 17: 7. Time Changes

Using the Colorista 3-Way tool, you can easily change the perceived time of day in the scene, which is useful if you need to match shots together that were filmed at different times. Moving the colour pin towards blue suggests early morning or a cold environment, whilst adding in orange and yellow simulates sunlight and warmer temperatures.

 

Step 9 of 17: 8. Day for night

Our eyes see blue wavelengths more readily in low light situations and colours become desaturated. So when using the Colorista 3-Way tool to simulate an evening look by lowering the luma settings, also push the colour controls towards blue. Add a vignette and reduce the saturation to complete the effect.

 

Step 10 of 17: 9. Fast Tints

Tints are effectively a collection of colour corrections that apply colour casts to multiple areas in an image. A fast method of applying a tint is to use the Warm/Cool tool. This applies a series of color corrections at the same time, but using only one tool. A push towards green, combined with a vignette and a slight reduction in highlights quickly creates a stylised look.

 

Step 11 of 17: 10. Flashback Effects

Adding a glow effect to exagerate the highlights using the Diffusion tool is fast way to create to a stylised flashback or dream effect. There are also a variety of glow effect presets in the Diffusion and Light category. Many of these presets use the Auto Shoulder tool to automatically legalise any overbright luma levels.

 

Step 12 of 17: 11. Soft Shadows

The Telecine Net tool increases the contrast in an image, by making the shadows darker, but targets and softens the shadows as well. Increase the Strength setting to create a rich, saturated, theatrical look. This softening effect can also help to reduce video noise in the darkest areas of the shot.

 

Step 13 of 17: 12. Adjust Specific Hues

Use the Ranged HSL tool to boost the saturation of specific colours in a shot. To make lipstick pop, drag the red pin outside the Hue/Saturation wheel to increase the saturation. You can also move the pins towards their neighbouring colours, to quickly change specific hues in a shot. Adjust the brightness of individual colours using the Hue/Lightness colour wheel.

 

Step 14 of 17: 13. Isolated Effects

The Ranged HSL tool also makes it easy to isolate certain colours to achieve stylised looks. 

Drag all the hue pins to the centre of the colour wheel to desaturate them, leaving the one colour you want to highlight still saturated. The Red Solo and Warm Isolation presets, in the Monochromatic category, are quick ways to set up these types of effects.

 

Step 15 of 17: 14. Virtual Skies

Repair overexposed skies by applying the Gradient tool from the Matte Tools section. Use the on-screen overlay controls to adjust the length of the effect, and then use the colour wheel to adjust the hue and lightness. You can add multiple instances of the Gradient tool, which is useful for adding virtual light sources.

 

Step 16 of 17: 15. Focusing Attention

The Swing Tilt tool simulates real world lenses, and lets you focus on objects at different distances in the same shot. Use the on-screen controls to adjust the angle of the focal plane and the rate of blur. Lower blur values make the effect seem more natural.

 

Step 17 of 17: Bonus Tip: Learning from the Presets

The presets in Looks are set out into categories that correspond to their specific use. The ones in the Basic section apply subtle enhancements that improve shots without overtly advertising that a post production treatment has been added, whilst the ones in the Cinematic category can be used to suggest a certain mood or film genre.

The presets combine multiple tools that work together, that you can then adjust to suit your own material, but they are also a great way to investigate which colour and luma adjustments go into creating a grade. 

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