Magic Bullet Looks Plugin for Color Correction and Grading - VFX Vlog 16

User avatarJune 22, 2014 by Surfaced Studio

When it comes to giving your video a nice cinematic look, your footage needs to go through at least two processing stages: colour correction and colour grading. Please check out my two detailed tutorials on these topics by clicking on the links above.

In these tutorials I showed you how to colour correct and grade your footage using nothing but the inbuilt colour effects for Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere. There are many plugins out there that make these processing steps a lot simpler and the one of the most popular ones is <em>Magic Bullet Looks </em>by Red Giant. In this tutorial I will show you how to use Magic Bullet Looks to colour correct or colour grade your footage.

To show you how the plugin works, I will be using a clip from our Zombie Hunter VFX short film.

Note that the clip is already colour corrected. In this tutorial we will use Magic Bullet Looks to apply colour grading, but you can just as easily use the plugin to perform colour correction.

Color Grading with Adjustment Layers

I have already touched on the importance of adjustment layers in my previous tutorials. Once all your individual clips are colour corrected (and therefore all match up nicely), I prefer placing a single adjustment layer across all of them to apply my colour grading effects.

Note that adjustment layers are now also available in Adobe Premiere.

How To Use Magic Bullet Looks

Once you installed the Magic Bullet suite you will find the Looks effect in your effects panel.

Apply the Magic Bullet Looks effect to your adjustment layer. In the effects control panel you will now see the Looks effect applied and within the effect settings you will see a small 'Edit...' button.

Click on the 'Edit...' button to open up the Looks Builder. Here is a screenshot of the interface:

  1. Preview window. Your final video with any colour adjustment effects will be displayed here.
  2. Effects tool chain. Any effects applied to your clip will be listed here. They are applied from left to right.
  3. Scopes. A variety of tools for visualising the colour information in your footage. These help you make accurate adjustments.
  4. Tools. Hidden beneath this tab you will find all of the effects that are available to you to modify your footage.
  5. Looks Presets. Under this tab you will find a large library of preset looks that you can quickly apply and tweak.

Note that our preview window (1) is currently empty. This is happening because we have applied Magic Bullet Looks to an adjustment layer and the plugin only displays the contents of the current layer - which, for an adjustment layer itself, is nothing. I hope the guys over at Red Giant do add that functionality at some point because it would make life a lot easier.

For now we can get around this problem by going back to our timeline and applying the Magic Bullet Looks effect to one of our base footage clips instead. We will then set up our desired colour grading in the Looks Builder and, once we're happy with the final look, cut and paste the effect back onto the adjustment layer.

Go back into the Looks Builder and this time you should see your actual footage in the preview window.

Now it's time to get our hands dirty and start applying some colour adjustments to our footage!

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I am passionate about providing high quality VFX & Film Making Edutainment online. Check out my training courses on Udemy
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