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October 2014
Issue: April 1, 2013

Red Giant's BulletProof: A media wrangler for the rest of us

By: Daniel Restuccio
The folks at Red Giant, creators of sexy VFX plug-ins and filmmakers themselves, have come up with a clever piece of software called BulletProof that gives you many of the advantages of an on-set data wrangling set-up for a fraction of the cost.

Digital cameras, smaller faster computers and innovative data management technology made "instant dailies" a reality. Companies like FotoKem, Pix and LightIron have built sophisticated systems for backing up, organizing and doing basic one light color. These systems are common on feature film and television sets with budgets to support them.

BulletProof promises to do this for everyone else that uses video to make a living.  “We built this for us,” says Sean Safreed, Red Giant co-founder. “We’re a company that makes software that is also interesting in filmmaking. We built it so we can make our shorts better and faster. For us that was our first motivation.” 

Their market, continues Safreed, is the same for their audio syncing product PluralEyes: DVD authors, “shorts” filmmakers, documentary makers, webisode producers, local television and commercial producers, folks that do corporate and event videos and prosumer productions. So high-level media management that was out of reach can now be had for the cost of a spiffy laptop some peppy hard drives and BulletProof. 

BulletProof, explains Safreed, is a stand-alone application that sits between the camera and the editor, and helps you do all the prep for editing: import, proper backup and cataloging of clips. “Organizing media that you capture on-set, tools to review and first light color in one app,” he says proudly.  

The first thing it does is make a backup. BulletProof creates a "structured folder," similar to a Mac disc image, containing all the media in block format and associated metadata. BulletProof backups are cross platform and have an extra level of verification. If you copied the DCIM folder on to a fresh CF card it would be identical to the original. This approach ensures that in the future BulletProof will be able to work with cameras with more complex data structures such as AVCHD. 

The next thing it does is data management — bringing in all the media in safely and tagging it and tracking it on-set or later. For each clip or sets of clips you can apply searchable metadata keywords and ratings: site information, slate data, filenames, star ratings, circle takes, color labels, creation dates.  

Then you can build playlists, sets of clips, around those ratings names. Those playlists go into the review mode where the BulletProof player can scrub, add markers and notes to markers and refine your clip organization. 

Color management comes next. BulletProof uses all the same controls found in Red Giant’s Colorista with the added juice of being able to use and build 3D LUTs. So you can apply a pop down REC 709 preset to your GoPro Protune footage as well as build your own LUTs and take them to another application like After Effects, Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve or Adobe SpeedGrade.

Exporting comes next. While the exporting is a limited to ProRes in the first release, one of the neat things you can do here is take those original Canon 5D Mark II clips and impose timecode on to those master files.

BulletProof favors more recent laptops with at least 2GB of memory and a modern GPU. The more process cores you have the more threads you can run at once. It will actually run on a MacBook Air but really likes the 15-inch Retina Display or comparable Windows laptop. 

Right now BulletProof works exclusively with Canon DSLR, Nikon and GoPro media. Future updates will add Canon C500 and Arri Alexa capability. 

Lastly, one of the more intriguing things about BulletProof is that it is a Chrome application. All this functionality was built using HTML and CSS. 

BulletProof public beta will release soon. The official version will sell for $199.