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 spent tweaking video will affect the quality of results.
A film-like look starts with high-quality progressive images. Magic Bullet converts interlaced video to 24- or 30fps (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 24fps, 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 centre of Magic Bullet, with presets that emulate popular film-shooting styles and post-lab processes, such as Bleach Bypass and 3-Stripe colour printing. The results are surprisingly realistic, and you can make 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 colour 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.
Magic Bullet Suite 1.0 Standard Definition edition goes a long way toward achieving the Holy Grail of giving digital video an authentic film-like look.
Video professionals now have a real option when it comes to creating true film-like quality - if they have patience.