Contour Design Shuttle Pro v2 Review
The ShuttlePRO v2 from Contour Design is a nifty little editing peripheral, and a popular one with editors doing certain kinds of work. Contour were kind enough to send me one to review here on the blog, and I’ve updated this popular post – Film Editing Keyboards, Mice, Controllers and More – to include the device.
The Shuttle Pro V2 is essentially a user programmable controller that you can use with a huge, and frequently updated list of professional applications, to speed up your workflow. What’s great about the Shuttle, compared to say the Logitech G13 programmable keyboard, is that it has a responsive spring-loaded shuttle wheel in the centre that allows you to wind through your footage in much more pleasing and tactile manner. The middle of that shuttle wheel also includes a smaller, ‘finger-twiddle-able’, 360 degree shuttle wheel that’s intended for more controlled manoeuvring, for example frame by frame navigation.
The device has 15 customisable buttons, with the top 9 key cover’s being removable so that you can print out little labels from this free template, to stick under them, which is really helpful when you’re learning how you’ve set up your keys. Although if you’re using it in multiple applications you aren’t going to want to be swapping out the labels every time – so I left mine blank and just had a screen grab of my set up to hand.
The Shuttle controller set up interface is intuitive, easy to use and flexible enough to accommodate lots of different working styles and requirements. It also comes packed with tons presets for a huge number of creative apps including the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Lightworks, FCPX, Avid and a few more exotic things like ScreenFlow, VLC Media Player, Toast Titanium, Final Draft and many others. There are also presets for things like Chrome, Excel, Mail, iTunes to name just a few. The only one that seemed to be obviously missing, was for DaVinci Resolve, which apparently is in the works. When you are using the Shuttle and switch application it automatically switches settings along with you to the new application, this makes it equally useful in Chrome as in Premiere Pro!
Tips on Customising your Shuttle Pro V2
You’ll want to grab the latest drivers and other downloads from the Contour Design forum, as well as the latest user guides and button maps in order to personalise your Shuttle Pro. This short video tutorial demonstrates how easy it is to customise a pre-existing setting.
I did have a few teething problems setting everything up initially – settings didn’t stick and a macro wouldn’t work – but this turned out to be entirely my own fault as I’d installed an old (v2.7) version of the driver. If you’re on a Mac, make sure you have version 3 and everything will be fine. Classic problem of user error.
With so many potential applications in the list, a useful tip is to right click on the User > All Applications icon and select ‘Show Installed Apps Only’, which reduces things considerably. Another tip is to click on Export Settings Info… to create a PDF image of the preset and it’s controls. I wish the Logitech G13 had a similar function to print your keyboard graphically, as all it outputs is a measly text list.
One of the things I’d like to improve on the Shuttle is the actual speed of shuttling in Premiere Pro. When you hammer down the L key a few times in the app you can get the playhead to zip along nicely, but when using the Shuttle Pro v2 and cranking the wheel hard to the right it doesn’t produce the same pace of results.
Another tweak that I would make – if I had my way – is the actual physical design of the device. On the one hand it’s nice and small, light weight and therefore highly portable, but on the other hand I would prefer it if the hand placement had a bit more ergonomic support, as it feels a little flat on the desk. In this way I prefer the curved nature of the G13 – although it’s a much bulkier device as a result.
Running a Macro on Shuttle Pro v2
One of the ways in which I wanted to test the customisation of the Shuttle Pro v2 was to set up a new macro (a group of keyboard shortcuts that fire in sequence from a single button press) that I use all time when ‘Pancake Timeline editing’ (which you can check out in full and set up for yourself in this post over on Rocketstock.com), which makes pulling selects really, really quick.
Note: According to the user guide macros only work on the Shuttle Pro v2.
— Contour Shuttle (@ContourShuttle) July 6, 2015
I happened to fire off a quick tweet to Contour Design saying I was having trouble setting up the macro (which was due to me installing the wrong driver) and a few hours later they tweeted back with a link to this new preset – specifically designed for Pancake Timeline Editing – what great technical support! If you’ve not set up a pancake macro on your Wacom tablet or programmable keyboard I would highly recommend it!
Overall the Shuttle Pro is a powerful little device, and a major plus in it’s favour (if you like working with one) being the jog wheel in the centre. Another benefit is the fact that the device’s settings and software is regularly updated to keep pace with the latest releases in the creative industries, which might seem like a small point, but it has huge ramifications for smooth sailing day-in-day-out.
On the other hand, already owning a G13, I have to say that I prefer working with that device for a couple of reasons. Firstly it has more keys – 22 in a layer set – plus you can move between several pages of keys per application, giving you even more options to work with. Although can can of course do this on the Shuttle by creating multiple settings per application and then setting a button to toggle between them – creating your own ‘layer sets.’ But the colour coded nature of the back-lit LED’s on the G13 make this more apparent.
Secondly, as I’ve already mentioned, is a bit more comfortable to work with due to the shape, and thirdly – it just looks cooler! The LCD display and customisable colour key backlighting make it more fun to use. Plus it’s quite a bit cheaper too.
But that said, I’ve had the G13 a lot longer than the Shuttle, and as with so many things, you like what you’re used to. Tweeting with animation editor Judith Allen, who owns and enjoys working with the Shuttle, she shared a couple of useful insights on making the most of it…
— Judith Allen (@jaa_edit) July 6, 2015
— Judith Allen (@jaa_edit) July 6, 2015
If you have any tips on making the most of the Shuttle Pro V2 then hit the comments section and share your wisdom!
I came across this tutorial for using the Contour Shuttle Pro v2 with FCPX colorboard to speedy up your grading workflow by David Gibson.
Update June 2017
Editor T Payton has updated his blog with download links to his Shuttle profile and printable key cap buttons.
Rather than edit, I really use the Shuttle Pro as a precision frame finding device, and then trimming or marking in and out with that frame. – T. Payton