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Old September 18th, 2003, 08:48 AM   #1
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Does Magic Bullet really work?

I'm shooting my first feature film next month. It will be shot with an XL1 using photofloods bounced off umbrellas to soften the light.

This is a no-budget production so our lighting equipment is very basic.

I'm trying to decided right now whether to shoot the project in frame movie mode or 60i for later converstion to 24P with magic bullet. But I've never used magic bullet. Honestly this will be the first project where I would apply a post de-interlacer program of any sort.

This project has to look as much like film as possible as it's a horror film and will just look cheesy if it's not.

Aside from not having used magic bullet I'm still fairly new with after effects as well.

Is this a relatively easy plug-in to learn to use even if you're not an after effects master?

I would plan to use some preset film stock look and 24 conversion with magic bullet.

So is magic bullet worth the price?

Also should we decide not to do the 24p conversion and go with FMM can I still use magic bullet for the other film effects it offers?

Thanks
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Old September 18th, 2003, 10:53 AM   #2
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I wrote a review of Magic Bullet some time ago. This is an excellent product with many presets and easy customization.

I have found that certain "looks" reproduce better than others with different lighting setups.

Check out my article and look at the examples closely.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 01:39 PM   #3
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Stephen, sorry to seem perhaps dense, but where are we looking for this review?
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Old September 18th, 2003, 02:52 PM   #4
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i would start with the website directly below my name... then go to the reviews section....
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Old September 18th, 2003, 02:52 PM   #5
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try his website. The url is in his signature
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Old September 18th, 2003, 05:00 PM   #6
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You might get a better look for your film if you spend more on lighting and keeping your crew + director of photography happy with food and coffee.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 08:07 PM   #7
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I've written on several occasions here about MB. I get very high quality results, but the render times are very extended. I'm looking forward to running the new version on a Mac G5 dual processor.

Many of the past winners and nominees at Sundance have used MB.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 09:06 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Does anyone have any samples they could point me to? Stuff that was shot on lower end cameras ($3500 and below) at 60i and turned into 24p.

As for lighting I would really love to have more equipment available we just can't afford it at the moment. So we'll try our best at exposing the footage with soft lighting using umbrellas, gels and foamboard.

The cast and crew will get to eat. Can't not give them that or I don't think anyone would stick around.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 09:50 PM   #9
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Mike:

Not to beat a dead horse, since you sound pretty sold on using the lighting package you have...but this being a horror movie, if you are thinking to get an atmospheric look for your interiors rather than just "exposed", it is going to be an uphill climb using all soft light.

I just took a peek at Detroit Power and Light's rental catalog, they have two kits that would be tremendous for you; the Arri 4-light Fresnel and the Dedo 3-Light kit, at $70 and $75 a day respectively. Don't panic, you can most likely talk them into a 2 day week or even better.

You don't HAVE to buy lights; the great thing about renting is that you get to check out different units on the job which will help when you might need to make decisions down the road.

The question is this: if you are going to be looking at this footage and the eventual feature for years to come, is it not worth possibly investing a couple hundred bucks that will go directly onto the screen, making the images that much more effective?
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Old September 18th, 2003, 10:27 PM   #10
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By two day week you mean pay for two days but get them for a week? Is that a 5 day or 7 day week?

Our total budget for the shoot is $1000 including food. That'a s 2-3 month shoot 3-4 day a week. It's really a last minute production. But I'm trying to make the best out of it that I can.

I know cutting corners is a bad thing to do. I also know that light is the most important element to the picture. But with a budget as low as we have it's hard to spread it all out.

EDIT:
Just to expand a little further, I'm not above taking advice from anyone. Any advice is imporatnt to me. So by all means convince me to use hard lighting or a mix of the two. I'll admit lighting is one of my weakest points. Though I am not cinematographer on this project I am director I pass everything I learn on.

My only reason for deciding to go the route of soft lighting is because I have heard it is best for DV do to DV's generally little exposure laditude.

I've always used hard lighting before so this will be the first time trying soft lighting. But as I said our budget more then anything is what is limiting us.
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Old September 18th, 2003, 11:46 PM   #11
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Hi Mike:

Rental houses have different rates for the week than by the day. Three day weeks (7 day rental for 3x the daily rate) are sort of standard, but lighting and grip houses generally give great discounts. On big shows, they sometimes go down to less than a 1 day week! Not that you should expect that, but...

Are you really shooting for 2-3 months? Or was that weeks?

As far as hard vs soft--that's up to your DP. It's more challenging to use hard light than soft, but it is more controllable, and will give the image more snap. Soft light is great for lighting faces, but it will light everything; walls, ceilings, whatever.

I would recommend mixing both types as needed. Dv has limited latitude, yes, but that just means different lighting ratios.
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Old September 19th, 2003, 05:57 AM   #12
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No time to read the other replies, but i'll give my input real quick.

Magic bullet DOES work, but I (you) can do the same stuff, or even better in Vegas 4.
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Old September 19th, 2003, 06:26 AM   #13
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I second Charles' suggestion, i recently rented some dedo's for a short i shot on film, they were perhap's the best lighting i have ever used.

The great thing about renting is, you get to get the top of the range and best stuff available without even being worried about the price of owning them.

I used a kit of 3 dedo's fresnel's, 1 150watt on battery pack's with a projector attachment to focus down to points, and also allows particular gobo shapes to be inserted into the projector element itself, and the other 2 were 300 watt.

They were so light, quick to setup, all had dimmers, gel's, and barndoors.

This cost me $150 AUD for a weekend. so $100 USD for 2 days. Pickup Friday evening, return monday morning.

Such a joy to work with.


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Old September 19th, 2003, 07:19 AM   #14
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I don't know where you're getting MB from, but if your budget is really THAT tight you may want to consider one other possibility. I've used RevisionFX Deinterlacer on all my "pre-DVX" footage and it basically turns 60i into 30p (or 60p...) whatever it does, it does it. For $89 you can make your footage look dramatically more filmlike.

Keep in mind that Deinterlacer is no Magic Bullet, but it's cheap and a freakin' bargain at the price.

Everybody that saw my trv900/trv17 footage with the RevisionFX processing always commented that "there's no way you shot that with a camcorder!"... even this brilliant, hot chick-friend of a friend with a multimedia degree kept questioning the images.

(Of course nobody gave me any credit for lighting and sound and camera-work... but that's another rant for another time.)

www.revisionfx.com if you want a cheap, but probably less effective... way to to make dv footage look more like film. Also with revisionfx the render times are quick! Just apply the filter to applicable clips after the project is done and hit render... then come back in 30min to an hour. (Depending on length). Done.
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Old September 19th, 2003, 09:54 AM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Gettemeier : I don't know where you're getting MB from, but if your budget is really THAT tight you may want to consider one other possibility. -->>>

My budget is that tight for shooting. Only because this has been a last minute production. The idea to shoot this film only came up at the beginning of August and thats when myself and my co-writer started to go to work on it. It needs to be shot by the beginning of October because we are fighting the weather. We need to shoot the exteriors before the leaves fall off the trees. Then my co-writer/co-producer/best friend himself goes to Hawaii to teach at the beginning of January. Moving there permenantly. We've been making films together for the last 10 years. This is sort of a last hurrah for the both of us together and we only have a 3 month window. So it's all kind of slappped together last minute but yet at the same time is our biggest production to date. So we know it won't be the best becasue of that but we're stilling trying.

The point is post production work could take 2 years and $10,000 for all I care. It's the shooting budget and time frame that is tight unfortunately.

I'll check into rental rates for some fresnals. All exterior shots come first because of the weather. But perhaps I can get all interior shots done in a week or two and some how come up with the extra money. I'll also check out that revisionfx.

To be fair I tried out the DVfilm Maker (dvfilm.com)demo as well yesterday. It seemed to work fine except for artifacts around areas where I had slowed the video down.
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