The Best Mouse for Film Editing
- What’s the Best Mouse for Video Editing?
- Why you shouldn’t use a mouse at all!
- Using Multi-touch Gestures for Video Editing
If I was going to recommend one mouse for better video editing it would be the Razer Naga Chroma, or it’s wireless counterpart the Razer Naga Epic Chroma. Personally I would recommend using a Wacom tablet instead, but we’ll get to that.
Douglas Engelbart is credited with inventing the computer mouse around 1968. It’s essential design hasn’t changed all that much in the past nearly 50 years, although the execution of the design has obviously drastically improved over the intervening decades.
So what’s the best mouse for film and video editing of today?
What tool can you put in your hand to not only cut for hours on end comfortably, but also more efficiently?
The answers to those questions are what this post is all about, plus a few other things along the way, such as why I don’t edit with a mouse at all!
Over the years I’ve reviewed a lot of different input devices from tablets to keyboards to mice to bespoke controllers. This previous post is where you’ll find all of those in one place.
If you just want some TLDL quick links to some of the best mice for video editing, and all the products mentioned in this post, click below:
- Intuos Wacom Medium Pro
- Razer Naga Chroma
- Anker 2.4G
- Logitech MX Master
- Red Dragon Perdition
- Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum
- Apple Magic Trackpad
- Apple Magic Trackpad 2
- Apple Magic Mouse 2
Wired vs Wireless Mouse?
One note before we get started is to quickly discuss Wired vs Wireless options.
Unless you’re doing high-end competitive gaming it’s unlikely that the milliseconds of ‘lag’ on a wireless mouse are going to make much difference to you in the edit suite. Plus it’s one less cable to have draped across your desk.
That said, Wireless mice are almost always more expensive than their wired counterparts and require either AA/AAA batteries to keep them running, which of course will run out when you least expect or don’t have any on hand, or a charging dock.
If they’re battery powered this makes them a highly portable solution, if they have a dock, you’ll need to make sure you take that with you too.
Personally I’ve used both Wired and Wireless mice and it doesn’t make that much of a difference to me. If I have the extra pennies I’ll most often go Wireless. It’s basically up to you.
For me, always wired. For micro-sized detail work in Photoshop, even traversing 1-pixel’s width in order to wake up the wireless mouse is considered lag in my book.
— Chris Bové (@heybove) January 15, 2020
Left handed Mice?
When it comes to these kind of programmable mice, most manufacturers only create right-handed models to suit the majority of their customers.
There is a left-handed version of the Razer Naga Chroma, and Razer do seem to produce quite a few left-handed versions of their best selling products.
Otherwise if you are a left handed creative, hit the comments and let me know what mouse you’ve found that works best for you!
Why I don’t Use a Mouse For Video Editing
Several years ago now, as a then long time mouse-based editor, I started to get tingly pains in my right hand whenever I spent a decent length of time on my computer.
Sometimes it would get so bad I’d have to stop what I was doing to take a break and try to stretch out my muscles to get rid of the pain, although that didn’t really work.
Finally I started looking into getting a Wacom tablet (which I had previously seen and thought looked cool, but could never figure out) but when I saw the video above, from animator Kenny Roy, I was totally convinced that the long-term future of my career depended on taking responsibility for my body, now.
The main ergonomic benefit to using a pen and tablet is that it relies on moving a much larger muscle grouping – your arm and shoulders, compared to the tiny muscles in your wrist – which aren’t really designed for the kind of movements a mouse requires.
All of this means that you won’t wear them out with repetitive movements holding something like a pen, compared to manoeuvring something like a mouse. (Watch the video for more on this!)
So I sprung for a Intuos Wacom 4 Medium and have loved it ever since.
You can check out my thoughts on it in more detail here, and check out the much more portable tablet I keep in my freelance editor’s toolkit, that I take with me wherever I go.
Recently I’ve even added time-saving macros to the tablet and benefited from the great shortcut functionality they offer.
The latest Medium sized Pro Wacom tablet costs about $379/£329 on Amazon right now and comes with 8 customisable express keys, multi-touch gestures on the tablet’s surface and the touch-ring for scrolling and accessing the customisable and app specific radial menus.
It really is a lot more than a ‘mouse replacement’ and I find working on it completely comfortable, faster and more fun! I’m still using my Wacom 4 because I prefer the fact that it has LED displays for the current mapping of the express keys, which subsequent versions don’t have.
As for those RSI related tingles? They totally disappeared and never came back.
So what can’t a Wacom tablet do, that a mouse can?
Compared to something like the Razer Naga Chroma, it can’t put 12 customisable shortcut buttons under your thumb for a massive efficiency boost. So on to the mice…
5 Popular Mice for Film Editing
In choosing a mouse for film and video editing it really needs to deliver more than just pointing and clicking.
Your editing is improved by speed and efficiency gains, because these time-savers give you more free time to try out other creative choices, that may never work but, then again, might be magic.
That’s why learning all the keyboard shortcuts you can, using tablets or mice to run macros and other workflow strategies can give you that rare commodity – more time. And with more time, you can afford to experiment.
For that reason it’s tough to beat having 12 unique buttons under your thumb to fire off either custom keyboard shortcuts, or even keyboard combinations in a macro, to shave seconds off each repetitive editing task and in aggregate, minutes or even hours off your day.
In learning to use a mouse to speed up your editing you really can’t beat Eddie Hamilton’s Avid booth presentation at NAB 2012. Starting at 6 minutes in, he details how he uses the Razer Naga gaming mouse to speed up his editing.
If you want more insights from Eddie’s workflow then check out this post on Premiumbeat.com that I put together dissecting his Avid Media Composer layout.
Or jump to this post to download Eddie’s current layout for his Razer Naga! (Or scroll down a smidge…)
Razer Naga Chroma
Having previously reviewed the Razer Naga Chroma in detail here, I let you jump to that post for the full low down on it, but here are a few thoughts in summary as to why it might just be the best mouse in this list.
To cut to the chase of my overall thoughts, once you’ve got your shortcuts set up in an efficient manner, you can edit a lot faster using the 19 programmable buttons the Naga has to offer, as you’re moving your hands a lot less. In fact, you’re mostly just moving your thumb!
I wish I’d had it with me during a recent multi-cam edit in a client’s suite as I could have cut between the angles with my thumb very efficiently, and set up a few options to toggle the viewer on and off etc for better playback performance. This would have been a huge timesaver.
Another great feature is the ability to record macros which can return dividends in terms of time saved and repetition removed.
The Epic comes in both wired and wireless versions, while the Razer Naga Chroma is only wired. That, and it’s about half the price.
Download Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Editor Eddie Hamilton’s Razer Naga Chroma Shortcut Presets
I’ve previously reviewed the Razer Naga Chroma in detail and as part of that post I also put together a tutorial on how to set up and customise it for use with video editing, the essence of which you can watch in about 2 minutes in this video tutorial. Click here for the details.
As part of my in-depth review of the Razer Naga Chroma mouse I managed to get hold of the shortcuts used by Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Editor, Eddie Hamilton. You can download these same shortcuts as a basis for your own set up from this post.
You can also download First Assistant Editor Ben Mill’s shortcuts along with 2nd Assistant Editor Rob Sealey’s shortcuts too.
I’ve previously interviewed both of these fine chaps in these posts, so check them out for more details on how they actually use these mice, day-to-day.
Ben Mills Interview – How to be a VFX Editor
UPDATE August 2020
Synapse 2 does not appear to support MacOS Catalina. Does Razer have plans to support it?
The latest version of Razer Synapse 3 is only supported on the Windows platform. Synapse 2.0 for MAC will be available up to MAC OS 10.14 only. Moving forward, all new products will be supported exclusively on Synapse 3 for Windows.
I’ve just heard that Razer are dropping support for Mac in their Synapse 3 software and that several editors are having issues using Synapse 2 on Mac OSX Catalina.
My Razer Naga Chroma is still working fine on Mac OSX Mojave (10.14) thankfully, but it seems like I might have to look into other options moving forward!
Anker 2.4G Wireless Ergonomic Mouse
When it comes to ergonomic mice the vertical grip design is seen to be one of the better configurations because of the alignment through the arm.
Although it has 5 buttons, for left click, right click, middle scroll and two extra buttons for ‘forward and back’ (on Windows only web browsers only) you can always use Better Touch Tool to remap those buttons to more useful functions. (See Editing with Multitouch Gestures below for more on this)
At about $20 bucks it’s a pretty safe first try if you want to give your RSI symptoms a shake, and if you can remap those 5 buttons you might get a taste for something like the Razer Naga or other programmable mouse.
Logitech MX Master Ergonomic Wireless Mouse
The Logitech MX Master ergonomic Wireless mouse is much more expensive ($70) than the similarly designed Anker 2.4G, although it is Logitech’s ‘flagship’ mouse within the range.
It features the same ‘handshake’ style vertical grip, but comes with a built-in battery that can hold 40 days worth of charge (with 6 hours of ‘regular office use’ a day) via a USB cable.
Unlike the Anker’s 5 programmable buttons, the MX Master has two scroll wheels – one on the top and one on the side, which serve different functions. The top scroll wheel has a variable speed function for precise or free-flowing scrolling.
The side scroll wheel is thumb operated, but if you install the Logitech Options software you can customise the scroll wheels to do some nifty things, such as:
- Reproduce touch-based gestures
- Navigate tabbed content
- Switch apps
- Swipe between full screen apps (Mac only)
- Zoom in and out
- Adjust volume
- Display notifications (Mac only)
But for the money I would probably recommend going for a more functional programmable mouse, or if ergonomics are crucial to you, a Wacom tablet.
Logitech’s mice are fully supported on both Mac and PC.
In researching this post I came across this insightful review from Joker Productions, on using the MX Master for video editing. If you’re interested in this mouse this review covers all of it’s functionality and feel in exhaustive detail.
In this short video you can pick up a few good ideas on how to customise your MX Master to improve your editing workflow.
Red Dragon Perdition M901 Programmable Mouse
One of the main competitors to the Razer Naga is the Red Dragon Perdition M901. I was originally recommended this mouse by Peter Bjerggaard in my much bigger post on Mice, Controllers and More.
It’s a wired mouse with 18 programmable buttons which can stored in 5 distinctly illuminated memory profiles which are stored in the on-board RAM, so they’re always with you. Which is a real plus compared to the cloud-based Razer Naga system.
Most interestingly it comes with eight 2.4g weights that allow you to fine tune the weight of the mouse and increase its ‘inertia’. Should that be important to you.
If you need help getting the mouse configured to your personal preferences, the official FAQ will help you get up and running quickly.
Another consideration that plays in the favour of the Perdition is the lower price point compared to even the wired Razer Naga Chroma. Although personally I prefer the more subtle design aesthetic of the Razer Naga, which eschews the more gaming orientated ‘go-faster-red’.
If you are looking for a programmable mouse at an affordable price, this is probably the best of the bunch, although it seems like Redragon only offer ‘limited support’ for Mac OS, whilst fully supporting Windows.
Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum Programmable Mouse
The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum is one of Logitech’s most popular gaming mice and is currently a ‘Best Seller’ on the UK Amazon store and an Amazon Choice on the US store.
It comes with 11 programmable buttons, five 3.6g weights for adjusting the mass of the mouse, a configurable optical sensor and a dual-speed top scroll wheel, dual DPI switching and a customisable lighting set up.
Playing surfaces vary. You can get better accuracy by fine tuning the optical sensor in Proteus Spectrum to your playing surface. By tuning the mouse to your surface, you get improved precision and responsiveness.
Not many of these features really make a difference for video editing, other than the 11 programmable buttons and the DPI switching. Configuring the mouse is similar to that of setting up the Logitech G13 programmable keyboard, which you can read about in detail in this post on Video Editing with the G13 programmable keyboard.
Logitech’s mice are fully supported on both Mac and PC through installing the Logitech Gaming Software (image above) which means you can save your profiles and build upon them as you perfect your workflow. Having a left and right scroll is obviously particularly handy for navigating your timeline.
My main thought about the DPI shifting, which is basically for precision shooting in video gaming, could be handy for detailed key framing work in an NLE.
Price wise it’s about the same as the Razer Naga, but without that focused keypad of buttons under your thumb. Personally having a focused keypad of buttons seems like an easier way to ‘memorise’ what you’ve mapped to where, than the spread of buttons on something like the Proteus.
The Best Mouse Mats and Pads for Film Editing Mice
Engelbart’s original mouse did not require a mousepad; the mouse had two large wheels which could roll on virtually any surface. However, most subsequent mechanical mice starting with the steel roller ball mouse have required a mousepad for optimal performance.
The mousepad, the most common mouse accessory, appears most commonly in conjunction with mechanical mice, because to roll smoothly the ball requires more friction than common desk surfaces usually provide. So-called “hard mousepads” for gamers or optical/laser mice also exist.
Most optical and laser mice do not require a pad. Whether to use a hard or soft mousepad with an optical mouse is largely a matter of personal preference. One exception occurs when the desk surface creates problems for the optical or laser tracking, for example, a transparent or reflective surface.
That quote is from Wikipedia and it helps to set the scene for understanding why you even need a mouse mat in the first place.
Spending a few extra bucks to get the best out of your investment in a fancy mouse for faster editing makes does sense, even though most modern mice don’t ‘need’ a pad to function properly. They do tend to make extended editing sessions more comfortable.
That said, these days a lot of the gaming mice are calibrated for optimal performance from the maker’s own mouse pad, and so Razer and Logitech sell their own gaming mouse pads to match their own mice.
You can even spend as much as some of these mice cost, just on the mouse pad, like the Razer Destructor 2 hard gaming pad which costs over $30!
Whether you really need the “Tiny silver flakes embedded over the surface heighten its reflective quality to deliver rapid in-game responsiveness…. [or the] micro-texture to provide the perfect balance between control and speed” is down to you.
The one thing that does seem worth considering, if you’re going to invest in a mouse mat, is a decent bit of surface area to make sure you’re not having to drag and hop with the mouse, to make it across your 4K screen. As long as it still fits on your desk with everything else!
Personally I’ve always preferred mouse pads with a gel filled wrist rest for extra ergonomic support and increased comfort. This black Belkin one is the kind of thing I’m talking about and it’s pretty cheap.
You can obviously buy all manner of mouse pads, in all kinds of designs to suite your own tastes. I’ve always tried to keep the ‘visual noise’ down a bit in my edit suite, opting for a plain, one colour design.
That said, you can of course express your inner film geek with designs like these ones…
Editing With Multitouch Gestures
As an example of this check out this fantastic article over on FCP.co where you can learn in great detail about the editing of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in FCPX. You can also learn how director Glenn Ficarra created his own trackpad-centric editing controller with custom buttons, knobs and even a jog-shuttle.
It’s a 3D printed enclosure designed in Sketchup and wired with Cherry MX switches, rotary encoders and a thumb operated jog/shuttle switch.
Glenn’s inspiration behind the device was the fact that he felt cutting in FCPX on a laptop was faster than on a desktop with a mouse, because of the trackpad.
He also uses the Better Touch Tool app to create his own custom gestures such as four-finger tapping or force touching for ‘soloing’ in FCPX.
FCPX comes with several ‘built-in’ gestures you can use when editing with the Trackpad, on your laptop or otherwise, which you can find more info on, including how to enable them, in the official Apple support doc here.
Using Better Touch Tool for Gesture-based Video Editing
Jason details quite a few of his customised shortcuts and how to use the Better Touch Tool app to set them up.
The Better Touch Tool app lets you do a lot more than just create custom gestures and map them to an application. You can also trigger keyboard shortcuts and use your regular mouse or phone as an input device too.
It has a free 45 day trial and a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ licensing system ranging from £4 to £38 ($5-$50), which is a pretty sweet deal given it’s immense functionality.
In this short tutorial video from JJ of 8.45a you can learn how to use the Apple Magic Mouse and Better Touch Tool to customise some of your creative apps including Photoshop, Premiere Pro and others.
Single Finger Tap Left/Right sets my In and Out points in Premiere Pro