Review: Red Giant Magic Bullet Suite 12 – A Worthy Upgrade

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Intro

For over 20 years I’ve been making my living off of the profession of editing video. When you edit 40–50 hours a week on a regular basis you really hone your craft and over time find a balance between getting the job done on time and making it look as great as possible.

There was a period of time in my career that I wanted to create everything myself. I looked down on using templates or prebuilt backgrounds because in my opinion I was good enough to make all of that from scratch and didn’t want to feel like I was leaning on the creativity of others. 

The same could be said for plug-ins. It’s easy to get lost in all of the “cool things” that you can do with plug-ins and sometimes lose sight of the story you’re trying to tell. It’s easy to over do it. I’ve see editors try to find a reason to use a cool effect they like even though it doesn’t really fit the mood of their story or project. I never wanted to fall into that. 

But what I have learned is that even if I can make something myself, what’s the point if I can do something more efficiently and in the end have a better product for the client? Is it more important to turn out a good product, or have my ego hold me back from creating better work just because I wanted to do it all myself?

What I have found over the years is it’s not a either/or situation. I’ve also come to think that it often makes great sense to use these tools to your advantage – because in the end what I really want is the best product possible. It can also free up time to focus on other parts of the project that really could benefit from your talents. 

So in that light, what follows is my review of Red Giants Magic Looks Suite 12. It’s a collect of plug-ins designed to make it fast and easy to bring the best out of your footage. I’ve been using it extensively for years, but recently upgraded to the version 12 suite and have been testing it on both FCPx and Premiere Pro CC/After Effects and wanted to share my impressions of it. The comments that follow apply to any host application that you choose to use them in, not just FCPx or Premiere. 

The suite is very rich in what it offers and I can’t cover every detail of every plug-in in the package, but I will share my experiences on some of my favorite parts of the suite. 

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Turn Project Archives Into Real Money – BRU Producer Edition

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In my continuing effort to find a solid, reliable and affordable solution for long term archival of our editing projects, I have spent the last 12 months testing and creating a workflow for yet another product solution. Unlike when I reviewed the Cache~a a few years back (the positive review since removed from the site), I decided to spend a lot more time really running it through the paces. I learned my lesson the hard way with the Prime Cache and made changes to my review process.

The product that I’m reviewing this time is the “Edit Bay Production Desktop” software and hardware package from the Tolis Group. It has turned out to be quite the winner, and I’m excited to share our experience with it. While they do offer several different solutions of hardware/software or software only solutions (you provide the hardware), I’m going to focus on this one all in one package. It’s my feeling that this is the best fit for the small to medium sized post house with 1-5 workstations. To see some of their offerings, check out their website.

http://www.tolisgroup.com

What’s Included – Installation

What I liked about the “Edit Bay Production Desktop” package right from the onset was that it was a complete solution for your Mac. You provide a G5 tower, Xserve or MacPro computer with a open PCIe slot (must be a 8x slot), and they provide you with everything else.

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In your open PCIe slot you will install a SAS host bus adaptor. The card they provide is the ATTO ExpressSAS H680, and it was as easy to install as a video card. It’s as simple as removing the side panel of your tower and adding the card to your open slot.

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(Above is the Expansion Slot Utility that is on most, but not all Power Macs. Because the system we have the card installed on (a quad G5) does not support this utility, I took this snap from a different computer in the office just to show the utility. So don’t be surprised that in this shot the ATTO card is not listed. This utility allows you to configure the speed of your slots by dividing up the bandwidth in whichever way best suits your setup)

Once booted up, you install a driver for the ATTO card from the included CD, reboot again and the card is ready for use.

After that, turn the machine off and attach the LTO drive. Depending on the package that you choose, you will receive either a LTO-4 or LTO-5 drive. Both are HP drives in a external case. We have the LTO-5 drive.

With the LTO drive attached and the machine booted up, install the BRU Producer Edition software (from here on referred to as BRU PE) . This is really the heart of the product and is written for OSX specifically. Installation is as easy as mounting the included CD ROM or downloaded .dmg disk image and running the installer. Now you’re ready to start.

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