iPad Apps for Film Editors
As a editor it was essential you bought an iPad, you know for “work stuff.” Now that you’ve got iPad just lying around, isn’t it about time you did something more productive with it than surfing online and watching TV shows? Here are some useful apps that might just assist your day to day film editing workflow, some of which I’ve been experimenting with recently.
Ctrl+Console, pronounced Control Console, (the + is silent apparently) is an iPad armed editor’s dream. Beautifully designed interface layouts, communicating with zero lag between your interactions on the iPad and the subsequent effects within your NLE. Throw in the ability to use multi-touch gestures on top and you have a very powerful interface tool for your editorial arsenal. Not to mention another way to make use of your precious iPad.
Currently there are two different consoles for both Premiere Pro and FCP7/FCPX. These come in a couple of levels of complexity and price. The EDITOR versions give you far more control and costs £22.99/$29.99 where as the more limited CONTROLLER interfaces only cost £3.99/$4.99. These low cost options do allow you to dip your toe in the water with using the app, although you’re limited to UNDO/REDO and jumping to the next edits, but you do get to work with the shuttle wheel, which has a nice, spring-loaded feel to it.
The app is easy to set up, with a small server side app on the host computer. Once the connection has been made they are saved for future use and makes it easy to get up and running in a jiffy. The user feedback that you are correctly connected to the host computer is a hair-thin line at the top of the app (green for go, red for no), which could do with thickening up a little to make it more obvious to the first time user, what’s going on. But it’s all very easy to do. I found I needed to restart the iPad/computer to iron out a kink but it worked perfectly from then on.
One tricky thing with the way in which Ctrl+Console functions, is that it needs to be working with the default keyboard shortcut set up within the NLE you’re using. Which means if you’ve heavily customised your shortcuts (like I have) then not everything will work out of the box as the in app mappings relate only to the default shortcuts.
You also need to be looking at the app to use it, which often is fine, but as an editor who is used to laying his hands on the keyboard or a buttoned controller (like the Logitech G13) and keeping his eyes pretty much fixed on the screen, it felt a little cumbersome to start with. But maybe with more practice, like touch typing, you would get used to where everything is on the layout without having to keep looking down at it.
UPDATE – Although it’s in the video above, I forgot to mention that Ctrl+Console also works with gestures, which controls the main 11 things you would need to do as an editor, including shuttling, adding edits, in and out points and much more. Which, once you’ve memorised them, will allow you to edit merrily away, without taking your eyes off the screen.
The crowd funded origins (Kickstarter) and input from professional creatives into the development of the app, make for a very promising future. Only a few months ago the company managed to raise a further $261,000 in investment and off the back of this momentum the Ctrl+Console creators are already delivering more consoles with a Lightroom ‘sorter’ console now available in beta.
Personally I would love to see both an audio interface for mixing – something that’s pretty clunky to do with a mouse and far more intuitive to do with your fingers on a mixing board, and of course a colour grading interface for Premiere and FCPX but also for DaVinci Resolve.
Having chatted a little bit to one of the people at Ctrl+Console, they’re got some pretty big ambitions for ‘unleashing digital creatives’ and creating consoles for all kinds of digital workflows, which to my mind, makes them an exciting company to keep tabs on.
EditMote & Cut Notes
Digital Rebellion make an entire eco-system of post-production related apps, some of which interweave together to add even more value. I’m focusing on EditMote and Cut Notes in this post – two of their iPad apps, but you should definitely check out their desktop apps including Cineplay, Pro Maintenance, Pro Media and Pro Versioner Tools. You can also get plenty of very useful freebies from Digital Rebellion including – Post Haste and Preference Manager, not to mention some of their other handy free web apps like Aspect Ratio Calculator.
EditMote, a similar remote control app for your iPad to the other apps in this post, allows you to create two of your own bespoke layouts (one horizontal, one vertical) to control any post production app of your choosing – and you can use those two layouts in multiple apps. What’s great about EditMote, over say Custom Keypad, is that the buttons are unique to editing apps, which helps with the visual feedback, so for example a marker button looks like a marker. EditMote also supports a handful of control by gestures too, which helps for ‘no-look’ interactions.
You will need to download the EditMote Preference pane for your Mac in order to connect the two together. The link in the iTunes notes is actually out of date and so click here for the correct updated link. EditMote is currently $4.99.
Like Ctrl+Console, Editmote works with the default keyboard shortcuts for your NLE of choice, but EditMote allows you to customise those defaults to mappings of your choice and it will still work. You can read about this in the manual – a really helpful pdf and some what of a rarity with these iPad apps!
CutNotes is unique among the apps listed in this post, and one of the more expensive at $14.99, which allows you to quickly record editorial feedback, in sync with your timeline’s timecode and then export those notes back into your NLE.
Cut Notes can export notes to Final Cut Pro 6/7, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer and Pro Tools (via the third-party application EdiMarker). Notes can be emailed, copied to the pasteboard, printed, uploaded to Dropbox or uploaded to Kollaborate. Importing a Marker List into Final Cut Pro, FCPX or Adobe Premiere Pro requires the free Marker Import utility for Mac OS X. A Windows version of Marker Import is available for Adobe Premiere Pro importing.
You can create your own layouts for different purposes, or simply make use of the well thought-out presets for reviewing edits, mixes and grades. You can set things up so that whenever you start to type a note the program pauses, so you don’t lose your place. Any custom presets you create can also be shared with other CutNote users via email. In an example of Digital Rebellion’s eco-system level thinking, you can also sync into Kollaborate (DR’s cloud-based video platform) too.
Helpfully you can also download the 25 page User Manual for CutNotes too, a small thing but it makes a big difference! The user manual will help you get the very best from CutNotes, as well as walk you through how to sync it up with various applications including Premiere, FCP7/X and Avid Media Composer. You’ll want to scroll down to the bottom of the official CutNotes page to find the syncing plugins you’ll need for your NLE. If you’re on Adobe CC you won’t need a plugin.
CutNotes connects via a Audio Midi controller and under Yosemite you can find this under Applications > Utilities > Audio Midi Setup. Then click Window > Show Midi Studio and double click the Network icon to open the settings you’ll need to configure to get in sync with your Mac. I tested this with both Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 and 2015 and both worked perfectly, once I had restarted the Adobe apps.
Once you’re done you can export your markers as ‘human readable text’ or as a marker list that can then be imported into your NLE as markers in your timeline. You’ll need to download the free Import Marker app to do this, and export an XML of your sequence in order to complete the handshake. But this takes literally seconds.
From my experience, CutNotes is a fantastic application, and very useful for keeping clients and other collaborators engaged in the feedback session, without having to always stop and start the show.
ProCutX from Pixel Film Studios is a dedicated FCPX controller app for the iPad. Although originally released back in 2013, I’m reliably informed that a major update is in the works. If you want to stay on top of that – then sign up for their newsletter. Until then you can find out more about ProCutX on the official site here and at the time of writing ProCutX is currently free, down from $39.99, so there’s no reason not to grab it!
I tested it on my 2013 Mac Pro running Yosemite 10.10.5 and FCPX 10.2.1 and it seemed to work just fine, although a couple of the colour grading shortcuts didn’t quite seem to be working as they should, but that might have been user error.
One of the nice things about ProCutX is that it covers all of the stages of editorial from import through to colour correction in it’s feature set, which makes it a much more powerful and useful app, than simply having your editing buttons on an iPad. The central jog wheel and playback buttons are responsive and the dedicated colour grading buttons provide a solid foundation for the task at hand. This gives it a much more detailed level of control than Ctrl+Console, for example.
You can see ProCutX in action for yourself in this short video review from TechCentury.
Like the other apps you’ll need to install a smaller server-side app to connect ProCutX smoothly over wifi to your Mac, which you can download from here and get some set up help along the way too. If you need some help on getting the ‘Accessibility’ side of ProCutX set up then check out this site.
One way around having to use the keyboard shortcuts that ProCutX requires in order to function, is the duplicate their specialised set, and then customise that to suit your further purposes. As along as you don’t over-write any of the mappings that ProCutX requires of course!
All in all ProCut X is a very well thought-through application and does a great job of making a good number of the FCPX feature sets more accessible and enjoyable to work with.
If you prefer to have the flexibility to custom build your own button layouts in a jiffy then you should get the extremely affordable Custom Keypad app, a steal at only $4.99/£3.99. There are further in-app purchases that will expand it’s usability – for example a large keyboard for an extra $0.99/£0.79, which also make it a far more versatile application than some of the other NLE specific apps. So just how customisable is fully customisable?
- Unlimited number of layouts.
- Single or multi-page layouts.
- Unlimited number of controls.
- Easily move or rearrange controls anywhere.
- Customize the size, color, image, and label of the buttons.
- Supports multiple gestures for each control (single tap, double tap, etc).
- Send any combination of keys, keyboard shortcuts, or mouse clicks.
- Send an unlimited number of keystrokes or mouse clicks.
For such a cheap app it really is a brilliant purchase, given that, with sufficient time and inclination, you can create your own shortcut panels for any and every application, limited mostly by your own imagination.
You can find out more about how to use it on the official site, but it’s pretty intuitive with a simple drag and drop interface, which includes trackpad, joystick and directional toggles, as well as standard buttons. Using this app also provides a way of using macros in your workflow, without having to buy a stand-alone keyboard controller.
A good while ago esperimentocinema.com created a free Resolve layout for Custom Keypad, but their site has been down for some time now, so if you click the image below you can grab the copy I have. Other than that I’ve not found any further layouts for post production tools just yet. So if you read this and make something amazing – do hit the comments or email me and I’ll happily update this post with more free layouts!
Live Play 3 / ToDailies
It would be slightly remiss of me to draw together a post on iPad apps for editors and not mention the fairly mind-blowing work of Light Iron Digital – everyone’s favourite DIT/DI company. Both Live Play 3 and ToDailies are aimed at facilitating on-set work and bridging the chasm between production and post, when it comes to reviewing dailies and passing that information down the chain to post.
LiVE PLAY virtualizes clips so that they are streamed in an unlimited amount to iPads on a closed-circuit network. Todailies takes rendered H.264 files and automatically synces them to an iPad so they can be viewed and manipulated without any network connection. Think of LiVE PLAY as advanced video playback and Todailies as the replacement for DVDs.
LI Server can serve both LiVE PLAY and Todailies and yes, they can work in tandem. In fact, you can set metadata tags in LiVE PLAY on the set and then read them in Todailies when you take them home. H.264s need to be made by some other method, to which there are infinite possibilities. So hardware assistance for H.264 creation is a great way to do it, then the directory H.264s are served to are automatically to LiVE PLAY and then synced to Todailies. Using both these systems together or independently with the same LI Server makes it easy to integrate to any project and truly any budget.
Now ToDailies is pretty affordable at £7.99 where as LivePlay rental prices of it’s cloud services start at $250/week. But given all that you get for the money, and the user-base it’s aimed at, it seems like a great deal.
UPDATE – OK so I got part way into writing this post when I discovered that I couldn’t actually find ToDailies on the iTunes store, even though the product page still exists on the Light Iron site. After a quick email I discovered that ToDailies and Liveplay 2.0 have been retired and Liveplay 3 has been re-built from scratch incorporating all of that previous functionality and adding in the cloud review features…. which I’m pretty sure I already knew, but had somehow forgotten! So in case you weren’t aware of that either, now you’re all caught up.