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Ever thought about using a colour grading surface to control FCPX? Sam Mestman has made a custom command map for the Tangent Element and iPad app.


One of the cool things about NAB is meeting all the people responsible for making the products you use everyday. I was lucky to meet Chris Rose from Tangent, whose company is responsible for the Tangent Element and Wave Control Surfaces. If you’re a Resolve user, you probably know who these guys are and what they do. Basically, if you don’t want to drop 30 grand on the Davinci Control Surface, you buy a panel from Tangent (at about 1/10th the price or less) and you have a control surface that’s going to work very well in Resolve.

tangent fcpx 1

Chris came by the FCPWORKS suite at NAB where we had a Resolve/Color room with an Element panel. I asked him why you couldn’t map anything for FCPX, and he turned to me and said… “Actually you can… it’s just that no one ever bothered to do it.” Case closed. I had to make a FCPX mapping for the Element Panel. The results have just been included in the latest Tangent Hub update that is now free for you guys if you already have an Element panel (or an iPad).

Who This is for:

I designed this map for me and the way I work. So… if you’re me, then this thing is great. However, if you’re a Resolve Colorist who edits in FCP X and already has an Element, then this is a no brainer. Also, if you’re planning on using Resolve, and you want to buy a Control Surface, you should consider the Element with all four modules as it is now an extremely useful tool when used with FCPX. Since you were going to need a control surface anyway in order to work quickly in Resolve, you might as well get something that is useful in other aspects of your work.

Additionally, if you’re an advanced FCPX user and find yourself constantly forgetting keyboard shortcuts, or want a faster way to apply them, even if you’re not a Resolve user, simply buying the Element Mf or Bt panels may be interesting to you (shameless plug… FCPWORKS is an official reseller for Tangent, so we’re happy to take care of this for you if you need one, regardless of which modules you want… email me with any questions). Additionally, this mapping works with the Tangent iPad App (which can turn your iPad into an Element Control Surface).

So, here’s what you need to know about it. The Element is made up of four individual modules that all connect together into a single unit (Mf, Bt, Kb, and Tk). In terms of FCPX, only the Mf and Bt modules are supported at this time. The balls and rings on the Tk won’t work yet (someday!), and the knobs on the Kb aren’t supported yet either (someday!). This means that if you just want to use this for FCPX, you only need the Mf and Bt modules which you can buy individually. So, if you have an iPad, you should be able to still use this.

So, what can you do with it, and why would you want this? I’ve been messing with the mapping on this for the last few months, went down a bunch of rabbit holes, and eventually came up with something I think is really cool and very useful. Basically, it works like this:

The Mf Module - There is only one mode for this and it will remain the same regardless of what mode you’re in on the Bt. Here’s what you need to know on the control side:

Holding the “A” modifier will expose a second menu of commands
Pressing the “B” modifier will turn the jog/shuttle wheel into a mouse
Reverse, Stop, and Forward buttons are mapped to J, K, and L. With the A key pressed, Reverse will "Play From Beginning", Stop will "Play Selection", and Forward will "Play Fullscreen"
Previous/Next buttons are mapped to the up and down arrows (next/previous edit in your timeline) and holding the A modifier will map to the left/Right arrows (next/previous frame)
The 12 standard buttons on the MF map to what I consider to be the most commonly used FCP X commands that will work regardless of which “Mode” you’re in on the BT. Holding the A modifier will bring up another menu with 12 more. (please see included spreadsheet for a full listing of what does what).

The BT Module - The BT Module is broken down into 11 different modes depending on what you need to do in FCPX. Here’s what you need to know:

Holding the “A” modifier will expose a second menu of commands.
Pressing the “B” modifier will bring you back to the Mode selection menu.
There are 11 modes in all. These are: Prep, Keyword, Edit, Speed, Audition, Multicam, Sound, Color, Marker, Function, and View. Selecting the corresponding key in the Mode Selection Menu (press B to get there) will bring up that Mode’s controls.
Within the modes, holding down the A modifier will bring up an alternate list of commands to choose from (in most cases).
I tried to fit as much as possible into each of these modes. In some cases, the modes map to commands that don’t have default keyboard assignments in FCPX, and will hopefully bring awareness to some of the hidden functionality inside the app.

tangent fcpx 2


Using Element Vs for iPad - This mapping will work with the Tangent element - VS iPad app on the Appstore. A couple things to know there:

There’s a free version you can test this out with. It allows you to use the full software for 1 hour a day. A great way for you to test this out and see if you like it without spending any money.
You’ll need to pair the iPad with your mac through the Tangent Mapper app to get it working. See Tangent Mapper help to figure out how to do this.

Some Additional things you should know:

  • This is new… and the only beta tester was me. I may have missed a couple things, especially in the version that’s included in the Tangent HUB. Please let me know if you’re having problems and I’ll do what I can for you.
  • In order to make all of these commands work for the various modules, you need to install the FCPX keyboard file (included when you download the App). See the “FCPX map information” link at Tangent Support page in the Tangent Hub section here (it’s a download). As some of you may know, FCPX does not have standard keyboard shortcuts for certain controls (Like "New Multicam Clip" or "Open in Timeline"). I’ve created my own in the included keyboard file that will correspond to the Tangent mappings. Simply import the Sam-Tangent -Final.commandset file and enable it in the FCPX keyboard window, and everything should work.
  • You can modify/create your own mapping for FCPX if you don’t like what I did. Open up the Tangent Mapper application in the Tangent folder of your Applications folder after you install the Hub… and then click help and it’ll walk you through it.
  • My latest version of the mapping didn’t make it into the Hub release (the changes are minor). I’ve included it here for fcp.co readers, along with the final FCPX keyboard mapping, and latest version of the Controls .pdf, as well as the FCPX map information that is downloadable from the Tangent site (link listed earlier). In order to get my version to work, you’ll need to import it in the Map Management area of the the Tangent Mapper application and enable it.
  • For FCPWORKS customers - I’ll do more for you than I will everyone else and will help support you with your mappings and maybe even do some of it for you if you ask nicely. I’ll also be sending you updated versions of what I do with mine (along with what’s changed)… only you will get these ahead of the official Tangent releases.
  • I’m working on a mapping for Motion as well. 

Download FCPX Map Sam Latest

Download FCPX Map Tangent

Anyway, I hope you guys like it and that it adds some speed and functionality to your workflows. I know it has to mine. And if you need any help putting together or buying a system that’s right for your needs, check out FCPWORKS. We are dedicated to integrating the best possible tools around the FCPX ecosystem for Pro Editors and if you do work with us, not only will you get things at the same price as everyone else, but you’ll also have someone who can actually help you if you run into a problem.


Sam MestmanSam Mestman has worked for Apple, ESPN, "Glee," and Break.com, to name a few, and is now one of the people behind FCPWorks, a workflow, training, and pro video solutions provider built around FCP X and the Apple Ecosystem. He's also a regular writer for fcp.co and MovieMaker Magazine, teaches post workflow at RED's REDucation classes, and is the founder and CEO of We Make Movies a film collective in Los Angeles and Toronto which is dedicated to making the movie industry not suck. You can drop him an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you can follow him on facebook  or Twitter at @FCPWORKS.