Here at HDVideoPro, we're always on the lookout for companies that create innovative tools for indie filmmakers, yet can still satisfy the pros. Red Giant, which produces plug-ins for compositing software and NLEs, is one of those companies. Its most popular plug-in, Magic Bullet (introduced back in 2001) is an advanced, yet easy-to-use application that gives video footage more of a film look. Designed by director and colorist Stu Maschwitz, the founder of VFX house The Orphanage and former ILM artist, Magic Bullet has become a go-to tool not only for big-budget features (Angels & Demons, The Social Network), but also for DIY filmmakers who are seeking a cinematic look from inexpensive DV cameras. Not only could you emulate looks from different film stocks and lens filters, but you also can create signature looks from popular films like The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan and Traffic by just dragging and dropping the effects shot into your timeline. Recently, Red Giant released a slew of new and updated tools that will elevate your low-budget project to the next level.
One of the biggest advantages about working with DSLRs or large-sensor video cameras is that you're able to shoot in extremely low-lit environments. But when you're working with ISOs above, say, 6400, you're most likely going to have image noise issues. To combat this, Red Giant has released Magic Bullet Denoiser II 1.3, which lets you remove grain or noise while still leaving excellent detail to your shot.
I tested Denoiser II with a shot I captured at ISO 25,600 with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III in Premiere Pro 6. The shot (of my cat sleeping on the bed) was a bit noisy, although even at 25,600, it was usable. Denoiser II was extremely simple to use—it basically was just dragging the effect into the shot in my Premiere Pro timeline. Simple as that. From there, I made adjustments in the Noise Reduction and Enhancement controls, although the default selection will work if you have minimal noise. After rendering the footage, the shot looked much cleaner in the shadow areas and didn't have an overprocessed look. (You do have to take into account that each frame has to render, so be prepared for a long wait time, even for a short movie.)
Denoiser also has motion estimation support for fast camera movements and pans. It does this by judging natural motion vs. noise in successive video frames. For the Denoiser II 1.3 update, you also can improve the look of interlaced footage. By checking the Separate Field box, your interlaced footage is properly treated when using Premiere Pro or After Effects. You also have new Fine Tuning controls that can help correct green chroma tinge (pulls a cleaner key for bluescreen or greenscreen work), minimize oversmoothing and offset highlights.
Also, Denoiser isn't just for video noise. If your project was shot on film in low light, you can use Denoiser II to bring down grain and smooth the image out.
Previously only available for Adobe After Effects, Red Giant has added support for both Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro 7. What's great about this is that you no longer have to leave your Premiere Pro timeline, which should definitely simplify your workflow.
Denoiser II is available for $99, but it's also part of Magic Bullet Suite 11, which retails for $799.