Magic Bullet Film – Grading Log Footage in Davinci Resolve 12.5

I don’t have anywhere near as much time in my life as I would like to go out filming. Whenever I do, I love it and even if it’s not for a particular project, I enjoy taking the ‘real life’ footage and trying different looks and grading techniques once I get the footage home. The problem with endless testing and filming in known scenarios is that when it comes to grading, you’re trying to mimic reality and get the output to see exactly as your eyes see. I very rarely do that with a photograph in Lightroom. An image will be processed in such a way so as to tell a story and that’s exactly how film should work. As long as skin tones are accurate and people don’t look like aliens, you can really grade your footage to achieve whatever you want. Basically, test and learn with real footage…not pictures of your kitchen. :-)

I went out to film the Bristol Harbour Festival a few weeks ago and, although it was a little busy to really get what I originally aimed for, I got a lot of nice shots of the waterfront and boats.

I was shooting log on the Panasonic DVX200 and recording in FHD on the Atomos Samurai. The use of an external recorder adds extra hassle, charging, weight but is so useful if only to use a waveform monitor while using the DVX200 screen for the composition. Of course, there’s the added benefit of being able to output 10-bit 4:2:2 footage and recording so ProRes rather than H.264. I can just never get the results I want from H.264. It’s efficient (‘ish) space wise but the price is too high in my opinion. People (including me) go on about this all the time. The whole “10-bit 4:2:2” is a bit of a buzz phrase right now but, in my experience, it really does matter when working in log (v-log in the case of Panasonic). I say that through personal experience…not because someone else says it must be better on the internet.

Anyway, I digress. When I came to grade my footage, I used Davinci Resolve 12.5 (I do most of my colour grading in Davinci now) and decided to try Red Giant Magic Bullet Film. Since getting it I’ve never really given in the best try. The results were much better than I expected and I was really pleased with them.

I’ve posted a few of the still frame captures on the BTS page but a couple are also below. So I thought I’d do a walk through video on going from log footage in Davinci to the end product and show how I used Magic Bullet Film. Here’s a quick list of what I like and don’t like about the plugin.

Pros:

  • Beautifully simple controls. Everything you need and nothing you don’t.
  • Smooth responsive sliders. They alter the grade subtly but have enough range to achieve a look.
  • Nice to have grain as this isn’t available in Davinci Resolve Lite.

Cons:

  • A little expensive. At $199.99, people may go down the FilmConvert route.
  • Very slow in Davinci. Playback of FHD 25fps footage was about 18fps on an i7 4.2GHz CPU with a GTX 980ti graphics card and 32GB RAM. Much better in Premiere but that’s largely down to the ability to playback at ¼ resolution if you need to.

It would be great to know your experiences of working with Red Giant Magic Bullet products. Also, if you like the video, please comment or consider subscribing to the channel.

Note: I am not affiliated or linked with Red Giant in any way. I just liked the plugin so decided to do a video. Please contact us here with any software related requests or business enquiries.

Leave a Reply