With Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer battling each other for the NLE system crown, one company that has benefited from this war is Red Giant. Founded in 2003, the San Francisco-based company creates plug-ins not only for NLEs, but also compositing software such as After Effects and The Foundry’s Nuke. Some of their programs, such as Magic Bullet Suite and Knoll Light Factory, have been used on a number of high-profile features like The Aviator, Grindhouse and Spy Kids 3D, as well as commercials for Nike, music videos for Foo Fighters, television shows like Good Morning America and networks like ESPN.
What makes Red Giant’s tools special is that they appeal to a broad circle of filmmakers. Want to create that cool, blue look of The Matrix or the washed-out, orange look of Traffic? Magic Bullet has drag-and-drop filters that will accomplish this in seconds.
Red Giant’s latest software release, Shooter Suite 12.5, focuses less on color and more on workflow. Working with Premiere Pro, After Effects, Media Composer and Final Cut Pro, the suite consists of six plug-ins that will help streamline your project, including syncing your audio, offloading and categorizing your files, reducing video noise, upconverting to HD to 4K, deinterlacing and converting to 24p, and creating and exporting Lookup Tables. I had the opportunity to test each app in the suite, and I was amazed how intuitive it was to use without a steep learning curve. Besides PluralEyes and BulletProof, which are separate applications, I tested everything in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014.
PluralEyes came out a few years ago and was a revolutionary program, so revolutionary that Red Giant bought the company in 2010. The popularity of DSLRs gave low-budget filmmakers the power to create cinematic images, but with professional audio severely lacking on the systems, filmmakers were forced to shoot dual-system sound, creating a nightmare for the editor.
With PluralEyes, you finally can toss your clappers and slates, which will speed up your production, both on set and during post. Version 3.5 syncs audio and video files in three easy steps, which is laid out at the top of the program. You can add your media by just dragging and dropping into the program window. After that, you just press the Sync button and it instantly analyzes your audio file waveforms to line them up. You would think this process would take minutes or even hours to do, but PluralEyes accomplishes this action in mere seconds. You can export your PluralEyes timeline directly into your Final Cut Pro, FCP X, Media Composer and Premiere Pro timelines and begin cutting immediately. You can also export your newly synced media files in a separate folder if you don’t know which NLE your editor will be using. Also in 3.5, Red Giant has added spanned AVCHD playback, more audio formats, algorithm improvements, automatic drift correction and improved integration with Premiere Pro. Because of its simplicity, PluralEyes 3.5 is a pretty fantastic program.
As you already know, the line between production and post has all but disappeared, making proper communication between the camera crew and edit team essential. On a typical set, you might encounter a multitude of cameras (ALEXA, 5D Mark III, GoPro, etc.) that all produce different formats and resolutions. Similar to Adobe’s Prelude, BulletProof is a workflow app that allows you to import, back up, organize, review and export your files. You can even do minor color correction!
The program is simple, and the process is divided into five different sections: Import, Organize, Review, Refine and Export. When importing from your media cards, BulletProof shows you the activity status and also check-sums the data. For this new version, a number of formats you can work with have been added, including AVCHD and Canon XF. The Organize section makes it very easy to create new folders, move files in and out, as well as enter metadata for each clip. With Metadata, you can add slate info, as well as keywords to search for a particular shot. (Having good metadata is really helpful if your editor was never on set.) In the Review section, you can select in and out points, as well as markers. You can also create Playlists to do rough edits. For me, the Refine section is the most essential. Not only does it have Red Giant’s Colorista 3-Way Color Corrector, but you can also apply Curves and LUTs to your image. These are all nondestructible, and you can save the changes in Metadata without exporting your changes. Another great feature within BulletProof is the ability to export audio and video clips directly into PluralEyes, which you can sync and export into your NLE.