Color that’s a joy to drive?

If you’ve never heard of Stu Maschwitz you’ve definitely heard of the products he helps design and sell, notably: Colorista and Magic Bullet Looks for Red Giant Software. Just before NAB 2015 he wrote a blog post about evaluating color correction software. Near the end he makes a comment that I’ve got a problem with:

How to Kick the Tires on a Color Corrector

If a color correction tool feels hard to use, it is. It’s not your fault for not learning how to use it. If a demo artist can’t make an image look great in less than a minute—in a way that matches how you expect to actually work, they are wasting their time and yours, and revealing something about their product and the culture that created it.

In the comments a good colleague of mine, Steve Hullfish, takes Stu to task on this notion that ‘if it looks hard it’s because the developers don’t give a damn about you’. Now—I completely respect Stu’s, ‘make it easy’ design philosophy but he seems to fail to recognize that even his products can be tough to use if you want to go beyond merely picking presets.

I LOVE Magic Bullet Looks but I’ve seen editors absolutely struggle over, “Is that effect I’m looking for a Subject, Matte, Lens, Camera or Post effect?” Looks takes a Cinematographer’s thought process and puts it in the hands of editors… who then struggle mastering it because it uses a paradigm they don’t understand.

I pride myself on being able to master (and teach) really complex software and I often get lost in the Colorista and Looks interfaces

Back when I launched my first Masterclass in DaVinci Resolve 8, I did a follow-up on color correcting in the Apple ecosystem with training on using Colorista. I found it such a powerful interface that I was always getting lost (a pro, getting lost 🙂 so I taught people to use that filter for one task at a time… otherwise you’ll never be able to come back 3 weeks later and deconstruct your grades. It’s an approach that’s become a mainstay for my NLE teachings.

Stu has some great thoughts on evaluating color software

And I encourage you to read his post on the subject. But I do think he goes a bit ‘off the rails’ at the end there… over-estimating the simplicity of the tools he helps design if you want to go beyond picking presets.

I’ll conclude by saying, I have plans to develop training on using his products… so let that knowledge inform your thoughts on my thoughts about his thoughts! But I’ve got to get my next Grade-Along out the door first…

Read: How to Kick the Tires on a Color Corrector at

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Joe Owens Interview, Part 2

“The Banker’s Pass – with a Dash of Tobasco”

Joe Owens is the Owner / Operator of Presto!Digital Colourgrade, located in chilly Edmonton, Canada.

Joe Owens

After getting his start as a camera shader over 30 years ago and now a full-time colorist for over 17 years – Joe’s a well-established presence in his Edmonton market. But his influence is felt around the world – as the leader in the Apple Color forum helping ‘newbies’ (and well established professionals) negotiate the delicate balance between technology, art, and business.

He recently finishing color grading 2 documentaries for the CBC network,  12 1-hour episodes of “Blackstone” for APTN / Showcase HD and 12 episodes of “Pet Heroes” for CMT.

Yes, Joe’s a busy guy.

Joe was kind enough to spend some time with me in my New York office (with sirens and horns) and share his experiences and thoughts of moving from the early days of analog videotape to ‘big iron’ telecine to non-linear digital color grading systems.

In Part 2 of Joe’s Interview we discuss:

  • The original “Final Touch” 2k grading app
  • The “Dark Art” of color grading
  • Colorist ‘thumbprints’
  • Joe’s favorite colorists
  • Creating ‘looks’ in the early days
  • Working with plug-ins & presets
  • When is “good enough”
  • Getting consistent in your grades
  • Client workflows
  • Joe’s office setup
  • Creature comforts
  • The physical setup of a colorist and the client
  • The 3 pillars of color grading
  • The impact of desktop color grading tools
  • How to know when a client is *your* client
  • The business mindset
  • Final comments on the layout of a grading suite

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Listen Now 

Part 1 | Part 2
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Show Notes:

This interview is part of an on-going interview series with the movers, shaker, and thinkers involved in the field of professional color grading for moving images. When I have new episodes to release, they are released on Tuesdays. To be notified you may follow me on Twitter (@patInhofer), via our RSS feed, and on iTunes.

You can find more interviews here: interview series homepage.

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Using “Magic Bullet Looks” on Text

A sweet tutorial was just posted on Red Giant Software‘s website: Grunging Up Text In FCP

Video tutorial maestro Aharon Rabinowitz does a great job showing how to apply and develop a text treatment using MB Looks. He gets around the biggest challenge of using Looks for this sort of thing (the fact that Looks settings are not keyframable, and thus static on text) by using the additional MB Misfire filters (which are excellent and ship with MB Looks) to give the text movement and interest.

Really – a great tutorial.

Just as good – the video doesn’t Autostart (ensuring you’re not inadvertently outed that you’re doing something other than what you should be doing).

– pi

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Controlling ‘Magic Bullet Looks’ (feat. ‘Knoll Light Factory’): Video Tutorial

"Magic Bullet Looks" preset examples

Magic Bullet Looks

Last week I was a guest on’s Digital Convergence podcast. Hosts Carl Olson & Chris Fenwick took me through a range of discussion topics related to color grading. Chris asked me about how I get Red Giant Software’s Magic Bullet Looks to update to my external broadcast monitor while I’m working in the Looks interface.

(In case you’re unaware, Final Cut Pro doesn’t allow custom interfaces to output live updates to the video card… the final ‘look’ needs to be applied to the clip before it is output to the external monitor.)

I mistakenly answered Chris that I don’t have a solution to this problem – forgetting that I came up with a viable workaround earlier this year.

So. This Video Tutorial is my mea culpa to Chris & Carl. It’s about how you can control Magic Bullet Looks and get live updates to an external monitor – in real time! It also features a quick little demo using Knoll Light Factory with Magic Bullet Looks to create a ‘dream sequence’ feel.

Threaded comments are turned on for this post – please post a comment. Below the video are all the relevant links for this post. Enjoy!

You’ll the “Enlarge” button to go full screen…


FTC Disclosure
I have not received compensation, goods, or services from anything mentioned in this post or in the Video Tutorial. I hope, one day, this might change. Affiliate links are clearly marked, resulting in a commission on sales (and helps support

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