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Tutorial: Red Giant Magic Bullet Colorista III

Here's a quick tutorial to show you how to get started with the new, simplified Colorista interface and quickly apply some interesting grades to create new looks in your clips.
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In this article I’ll be taking a look at Colorista III, a color grading plug-in which is part of the Magic Bullet Suite from Red Giant Software. If you haven’t used Colorista before, this will be a good introduction for you. If you have, you’ll notice one of the things that has changed is its simplified interface.

I have some footage that I shot last year of a friend doing some kayaking on a river not too far from me in East Tennessee. It was shot on a late summer morning, and it’s got some nice color. It’s got some nice contrast. There’s some side lighting, the sun is still fairly low, and since it’s getting late in the season, the sun doesn’t rise up as directly overhead. We’ve got some nice green trees, some rich earth tones in the rocks and water, some vibrant red, and a few other colors (Figure 1, below). You’ll see all these visual elements at different angles on the kayak and the kayaker in the video that accompanies this article.

Figure 1. The East Tennessee kayaking footage we’ll work with in this tutorial. Click the image to see it at full size.

I like this footage just the way it is, but I am going to destroy it with Colorista. Well, not really destroy it, but I am going to make it have a very different quality--maybe not something that you would expect to see in footage like this.

Colorista is a powerful plugin that keeps you from having to bounce back and forth amongst different applications. If you’re editing in Premiere Pro, using Colorista for your col grading keeps you from having to use the direct link over to SpeedGrade and back unless you wanting to do something extremely complicated. But you will see through this tutorial that Colorista can do a lot of complicated effects, because you can layer it like you can in other grading applications with primary and secondary layers of color. Let’s take a look.

Working With Colorista as a Premiere Pro Plug-in

Once you’ve installed Colorista, it will show up in your Effects panel in Premiere Pro and other NLEs in similar ways. All you have to do is drag it over, just like any other effect, onto the clip you’re editing (Figure 2, below). I’ve already chosen a frame that I like because it shows all the colors that I want to adjust in Colorista.

Figure 2. Dragging the Colorista effect onto your clip in Premiere Pro.

Right at the top, you’ll see that Colorista uses Adobe’s built-in masking tools, so you can create a bezier mask of any shape (Figure 3, below). You can create a square, circle, ellipse--any shape you need, you can create right there. But you won’t always have to do that. For example, when you have a moving subject, like the oar, which moves a lot and dips in and out of the water, you won’t necessarily want to create a mask even if it could be tracked. You might just want to select that color, like you would do in applications such as Photoshop and After Effects. You can do that right in Colorista, and we’ll look more at that later.

Figure 3. Creating a Bezier mask using Colorista in Premiere Pro. Click the image to see it at full size.

Coming down through the top, you’ll see that Colorista has a lot of the same control panels you would expect to see in most other color effects. You’ll see the tri-wheel, the auto balance, saturation, hue, and so on (Figure 3).

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