Introduction to Colorista Free and LUT Buddy
Our company, Red Giant, is made up of filmmakers and enthusiasts who value tools that help us share and communicate, and we feel some basic things should be free. We are giving away Magic Bullet Colorista Free and Magic Bullet LUT Buddy to make color grading accessible to anyone; whether you are a high-end colorist taking advantage of a CDL workflow, or a first time user looking to experiment with color grading. Colorista Free and LUT Buddy are our contribution to moving the filmmaking community forward, because you can’t really share unless everybody has the tools.
What is Colorista Free?
Magic Bullet Colorista Free is a simplified color corrector that anyone can use in After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. This tool uses our popular Colorista 3-Way color wheels and precise numeric sliders to give everything you need for basic color grading. It also supports the industry standard Color Decision List (CDL) which lets you to share and communicate with other CDL-compliant applications and hardware devices. We are proud that Colorista Free is the only free CDL-enabled software designed for desktop editing applications.
What is LUT Buddy?
Magic Bullet LUT Buddy is a professional tool that generates Look Up Table (LUT) data within the host apps After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and Motion. In a simple operation, the LUT can load into almost any color correction system, from Apple Color to FilmLight Baselight to DaVinci Resolve. The LUT can also render in hardware devices like Panasonic or Sony displays for previewing a color correction on the device. Because it lets all artists share the same color correction data, LUT Buddy truly bridges the gap from desktop apps to high end systems and hardware boxes.
Do I need to download both products?
Each product works on its own and is a separate download. We are simply making them available at the same time because they share the ethos of making color correction more accessible. Combined, the two products allow editors, motion graphic artists, compositors and colorists to share their color decisions. Please note: While Colorista Free is a fun, powerful tool for all artists, we recommend LUT Buddy only if you are already familiar and working with LUTs.
How do I know if I need LUT Buddy?
Folks who need LUT Buddy will instantly recognize its value since we designed LUT Buddy for the professional colorist and compositor. LUTs are part of a cool but somewhat esoteric professional workflow for sharing color correction operations across different users. Because LUTs take some explanation, you should read the documentation and decide whether this product is for you. The product is simple to use but you have to understand what to do with the color data it generates.
Do I need Colorista Free if I already own Colorista II?
This depends upon the work you do. Colorista Free has two features that are not in Colorista II. Its CDL Burn and numeric sliders give you new functionality for a CDL-enabled workflow. The sliders allow you to directly edit the numeric values for your color correction. These are great features to have! We encourage you to download and use Colorista Free alongside Colorista II. All other Colorista Free controls are available in (and modeled after) Colorista II.
Does Colorista Free use the same Lift, Gamma, Gain color correction as Colorista II?
Yes! Part of the magic of Colorista Free is that the color wheels use the common Lift, Gamma, Gain model that produces pleasing results for Shadow, Midtone and Highlight correction. Behind the scenes, we translate theses operations into CDL-compliant Offset, Power and Slope values that can be shared with other systems. With Colorista Free, you get the nice intuitive interface you expect without having to deal with the nerdy concepts of offset, power and slope.
When should I use Colorista Free?
Colorista Free is ideal for anyone who needs basic, beautiful color correction. The product is also intended for colorists who can benefit from a CDL workflow. Colorista Free is an ideal addition to any color grading workflow since its CDL Burn allows you to share projects or settings with colleagues who do not have Colorista II.
What is CDL?
CDL stands for Color Decision List, a universal color grading standard from the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) that anyone can follow and implement. It provides a format for the exchange of basic primary color grading information. Think of a CDL as the PDF of the color correction world. CDL’s let you enter and edit color values in an application and share them across other compliant software. Colorista Free exposes its CDL data and makes that list available for an open, easy workflow that conforms to professional colorist standards.
What is a LUT?
A LUT or ‘Look Up Table’ simulates what color output will look like. It is mainly used for communicating between color systems that don't have another way of talking. LUT Buddy supports a wide variety of LUTs, such as a 3D LUT which captures sophisticated operations like Lift/Gamma/Gain, Hue offset, Saturation change and color selection. Let’s say you use our Colorista II plug-in to make color adjustments in Final Cut Pro and you want to move those color decisions to an Autodesk Smoke system. LUT Buddy can capture that information as a .3DL file, and Smoke can open that file to recreate the color changes with very close fidelity. This sharing of information is what LUTs are all about.
When should I use LUT Buddy?
LUT Buddy is a very specialized product that lets you capture and communicate more complicated color correction operations that possible with the CDL-compliant correction in Colorista Free. LUT Buddy is designed to provide an easy method to communicate color correction operation between editors, compositors and colorists using different software applications or devices.
How does LUT Buddy work?
LUT Buddy works on a simple idea—you can capture color correction operations by measuring the changes in a set of known pixel values. LUT Buddy draws a complete set of color tables on an image before any color operations are executed. The user does his color correction on the image with the tables. Then LUT Buddy reads the changes to the color tables and extract the difference as a Look Up Table or ‘LUT’. A number of industry-standard export format are supported, including common 3D LUTs for Nucoda, Autodesk, Apple Color, Iridas, and Tweak RV formats.
Can I use LUT Buddy to extract and share the color presets from Magic Bullet Looks?
No. LUT Buddy does not work on color operations which create changes across multiple pixels, and that’s what Magic Bullet Looks is all about. While LUT Buddy does capture some of these operations, such as 3 Way correction or Secondary correction, using Looks controls like Diffusion, Vignette and Streaks will utterly confuse LUT Buddy. The undesirable result will be that the output from LUT Buddy will look nothing like the presets in Looks. We are giving away LUT Buddy to help filmmakers, not to confuse them.
Can LUT Buddy capture color changes in Colorista II or other color correctors?
Yes, up to a point. Operations such as 3 Way correction, Saturation, Hue, Secondaries, and Curves can all be replicated in a 3D LUT created by LUT Buddy. Other color tools that do similar operations, such as Final Cut Pro’s Color Corrector 3-Way, can also be captured with LUT Buddy. However, operations that only change a part of image, like the Power Masks or Pop slider in our Colorista II, will break LUT Buddy. The output will either be garbage or will look nothing like your intended changes.