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What Blackmagic’s New Dedicated Editing Keyboard Should Have Looked Like

When Blackmagic displayed their dedicated Resolve keyboard at NAB, I thought it was a winner, a product thought I had had in my head for many years. Now I'm not too sure, what would the ideal dedicated NLE keyboard look like?

 

One of the biggest news items from the recent NAB show was the first outing of Blackmagic’s new dedicated editing keyboard for DaVinci Resolve.

More than just coloured keycaps, the new keyboard has more keys and a jog/shuttle wheel. It certainly looks very familiar to a lot of us older editors.

Let’s indulge in a minute of rose-tinted joy of linear editing with tape machines when the phrase ‘Don’t worry about that, we’ll fix it later’ didn’t exist.

Most famous of all editing controllers was the Sony BVE 9000. A beast of a machine being able to control many multiple VT machines (My record was 9), drive the largest vision mixer you can find and set of as many GPIs (relay contacts) as you could program.

The crate in the rack in the air conditioned equipment room was controlled by the 9000 keyboard as you can see from the picture below.

sony bve 9000 keyboard 

The keyboard is a modified qwerty with added buttons on the left for list management and setup and of course the famous Sony jog/shuttle wheel on the right. Apart from EVS, nobody up until now has been able to recreate the ‘feel’ of that jog knob.

A few years later when Sony kit went from being shiny to a more modern dark matte, the edit controller followed with an update and was called the 9100.

sony bve 9100 keyboard 

The BBC didn’t like the qwerty keyboard as it was hard for editors to transition from the 900 or 910 to the 9100. So Sony designed a special dedicated keyboard for them. This has the keys spread out into different groups. This example on the ‘edit keyboard wall of fame’ was rescued out of a skip, hence the rather poor condition. There's not many left of them around.

sony bve 9100 dedicated keyboard

So you can now see where the new Blackmagic keyboard designers got their inspiration from.

But.. Those keyboards came from a time when we edited with tape. I’m not too sure that a similar keyboard for an NLE is the most efficient way of editing.

By offering a jog/shuttle knob, you are inviting the editor to use an NLE exactly like an old tape suite, shuttling to stuff.

blackmagic resolve keyboard jog knob

Times have changed, we are know skimming across long clips, jumping backwards and forwards many minutes at will. Yes of course you can still use the mouse, but the keyboard is being sold on the basis it will make editing quicker.

blackmagic resolve keyboard 02

I’m not too sure of the layout either as not only is it aimed a right-handers, it also looks like you need both hands on the keyboard to shuttle with your right, enter in/out points with the left and then insert/overlay the clip.

blackmagic resolve keyboard 03

So, enough criticism, how would I see a new dedicated editing keyboard. (We are also presuming that the keyboard only works with Resolve.)

I think Glenn Ficarra had a good idea when he and Jan Kovac edited Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on Final Cut Pro X. The combination of a touch pad with assignable buttons and rotary knobs looked promising.

 

For me though, what I would like is a standard FCPX labeled qwerty keyboard with extras.

First off, I’d have a Touch Bar directly above the keys, exactly like a new MacBook Pro. Hopefully Apple will put more functionality from FCPX into the Touch Bar this year.

Not that I'm going to win any awards for Photoshop, but here is my 'Frankenkeyboard' idea. 

frankenkeyboard

Secondly I’d have a row of assignable knobs that matched selections in the Touch bar below. These would be great for colour grading or moving items in the canvas by small increments. Apologies to Tangent for borrowing the knobs from their Wave 2 panel.

As for a jog/shuttle wheel? I’m not convinced. I tried the keyboard at NAB and it all felt very strange. It felt like I’d met up with an old girlfriend, all very familiar, but not as good as the current wife.

I’ve edited, eaten off and even slept on those old Sony keyboards in my time in dark rooms in Soho. So I thought I’d like the Blackmagic keyboard a lot more than I do.

I’m sure it will suit a few users perfectly, but for me I’m going to continue to skim/hoverscrub/scartch across clips in NLEs with a Magic Mouse and a qwerty keyboard.


Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

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BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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