Magic Bullets Photolooks 2.0: Red Giant’s Imaging Software Renders in Style
Red Giant Software launched the preset-based “looks” market when it released the browser version of Magic Bullet Looks in the fall of 2007. Visual effects director and software designer Stu Maschwitz overhauled the original product to create a self-contained color correction and “looks creation” interface, where tools were grouped according to how they fit into the flow from in front of the camera to post. Magic Bullet Looks ships with tools and a number of presets, which can quickly be previewed on an image. The software is built as a separate application that is linked into most standard NLEs and compositors as a plug-in. This design spawned a still photography version, called PhotoLooks, which uses the same basic engine. For still photography, PhotoLooks installs as a plug-in to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and Apple Aperture.
Last year Red Giant Software brought out Magic Bullet Looks 2.0, which is also sold as part of the Magic Bullet Looks Suite 11. This update featured a more streamlined Looks interface and additional tools, like Cosmo (a skin smoothing tool), but the PhotoLooks version was stuck with the old skin. Now the two have parity, with the recent update of the suite and PhotoLooks 2.0. Purchase PhotoLooks separately or get it included with the suite. Once again, both Magic Bullet Looks (for video) and PhotoLooks (for stills) feature a consistent appearance and a common set of tools and presets.
Magic Bullet PhotoLooks 2.0 is available as a plug-in to Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom; it may also be accessed by launching the PhotoLooks application. When you use it as a plug-in, you gain the benefits of round-tripping between the applications. In Aperture and Lightroom, both before and after versions are saved, guaranteeing that the process is non-destructive. If you open PhotoLooks separately, you can import JPEGs, PNGs and TIFFs, but the adjusted image can only be saved as a JPEG. Custom looks can also be exported for use elsewhere.
Along with the new interface and Cosmo, other new features include faster GPU-enabled processing, four new scopes and three-way color correction tools based on Magic Bullet’s popular Colorista filter. Creating an original look is as simple as dragging a tool into one of the categories (subject, matte, lens, camera, post) and then tweaking the setting to your liking. A tool isn’t limited to a specific category, so “post” tools can be applied in the “subject” position, as well as the other way around. You are simply creating a chain of filter effects, much like audio engineers do with audio filters. Once you get the desired result, either save it as a new preset or exit back to the host program, where the image will appear with that look applied to it.
Product: Red Giant Software Magic Bullet PhotoLooks 2.0
Pros: Wide range of presets and tools, including diffusion, color correction, skin smoothing and more.
Cons: Does not work on multiple frames when applied to video clips inside Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom.
Bottom Line: This is the go-to image stylizing tool for video editors and photographers alike. Nearly every tool in the kit is here, from grading to lens effects. It’s the easiest way to bring life to lackluster photographs.
MSRP: $199 individual