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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.

Grading the Clip

To color grade this clip in Colorista, the first thing I want to change are the highlights and the shadows. I want to bring down the highlights a bit and knock some of the brightness off the rocks you see in Figure 1, and especially the white foam of the water. I don’t want that to distract too much from our subject. Next I want to bring up the shadows. I want to bring out the details on the underside of that rock, especially on the right (Figure 4, below).

Figure 4. Bringing up the shadows to bring out detail on the rock. Click the image to see it at full size.

The next slider control below Shadows is Pop. If you’re used to working in something like Lightroom, think of this as clarity. Clarity gives you a lot of edge contrast, or removes it, depending on which way you slide it. The difference is obvious here--it gives it a comic book-like, almost funky pop if you drag it in one direction. If you bring the slider the other way, it turns it into the motion-smoothed soap opera look. I want something in between. I want to give it a dream-like quality, so I am going to bring it down, blurring those colors together and allowing them to meld in a different way (Figure 5, below).

Figure 5. Adjusting the Pop. Click the image to see it at full size.

The HSL controls are pretty cool. If I wanted to boost the red of the oar, all I’d have to do is select the circle and start pulling on it (Figure 6, below). It gives a bit of an unnatural edge to it, but not too much.

Figure 6. Boosting the reds with the HSL controls.

The green of the trees in this clip is OK, but it’s summer, it’s in the south, and things are getting dry and starting to fade. So it’s turning a bit yellow and losing its luster. It doesn’t have that spring, fresh green quality to it. I might try to adjust that green and bring it out a little bit using the HSL controls. You can also drag it towards a neighboring color to adjust the hue, making it more yellow, which makes it look even later in the season, or bring it over to the light cyan which gives it a bluish quality.

Creating a Key

Down at the bottom, you’ll see the Key effect. Key is not something you’ll find in your standard built-in effects. Hitting Edit under Key opens up the Colorista Key dialog box shown in Figure 7 (below). On the bottom left you have your source, which is your original footage. On the top you have your result, which is the combination of your matte with the source. Matte, on the lower right, is where you are going to do your work.

Figure 7. The Key dialog box. Click the image to see it at full size.

I want to change the red of his oar. I’m going to make a box on top of the red, and it’s going to make a quick selection based on that color range throughout the rest of the image. You can see it has most of both sides of the oar, and his vest and the kayak, but it isn’t complete (Figure 8, below).

Figure 8. The box includes most of the reds we want to adjust.

Instead of just adding boxes, I’m going to paint. I’m going to choose the Plus (+) sign at the top right of Figure 7 and start painting on that, and you will see it begins to grow and grow and. The longer you press, the more it grows--kind of like using spray paint.

I want to add some red down on the lower part of the oar. I can see on the source image (top of Figure 7), though, that there is a shadow--something dark--so it’s not going to pick that up as well, and then if I needed to pick up some of the tip of the kayak, I can add that in. As I’m doing this, however, it’s also adding in something I don’t want over on the right and on the left in the background. There is something in those rocks that is sharing the same colors as the oars. That’s easy to get rid of. Just choose Minus (-) (top right of Figure 7), paint directly on that, and it’s gone.

The other way to get rid of it, by choosing Undo, is by changing the clipping. But a lot of times it is easier just to paint with the Minus (-) tool on the area you want to clean up. I’ve got that red selected pretty well on about everything in the scene. However, it’s also on his face a little bit, and I don’t really want that in the adjustments I am going to make, so I am going to try to subtract a little bit of that and get it close to what I want. That way it shouldn’t affect his skin tone.

Layering in Colorista

Leaving the Key interface, the image changes with the effects applied. All the effects I just applied previously are now only applied to the mask, or the key that I created in the Key dialog. If I don’t want that, I could reset it (Figure 9, below), or I could also layer Colorista, as I mentioned earlier, just like a primary and a secondary correction. I could just add another layer on top by dragging in the Colorista III effect again, and make all those changes again to the entire image.

Figure 9. Click here to reset the changes made in the Key dialog box.

There are many things you can do with Colorista. This is just a simple introduction to the possibilities. Of course there is vignette, and curves, which we didn’t get to at all. 

Colorista III comes from Red Giant Software, either on its own ($199) or as part of the Magic Bullet Suite ($799), and is available in both configurations now.


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