Once upon a time film editors used to cut footage while standing at a table, the Moviola. Scissors, glue, and tape created the magic we used to see in theaters. Fast forward a few decades and we now cut, ingest and color through digital media, clicking with our mouse or tapping on the keyboard.
Old-time lovers will tell you that editing through a physical surface has a completely different feeling, but if you’re a modern filmmaker always rushing from one gig to another, you may not feel that as a priority. Instead, what could interest you is the time saving and the efficiency of using a dedicated panel. But is it really that the case? We’re going to find out in this review of the LoupeDeck+ panel by Cody Blue.
This may seem an ingenious and innovative solution to modern editing problems, but it’s actually not. Panels and decks have been part of the industry forever, since the very beginning of digital editing, but up until now they just weren’t affordable.
In the last couple of years, a few companies have started producing various kinds of control surfaces, and that’s good, because we all know that competition is good for the business, right?
Loupedeck’s solution, in particular, is engineered mainly for Premiere Pro, but it’s compatible with a bunch of software from the Creative Cloud and even some other apps from different companies.
Each button and knob is easily customizable through the dedicated control software. You can choose different layouts depending on the platform you’re using, whereas a simple dropdown menu allows you to navigate between the supported ones.
Now, Cody has a less usual editing workflow, less than most filmmakers at least. He uses pancake timelines, meaning he has two timelines stacked one on top of the other. He uses the bottom one to lay the footage, trimming it down and discarding unusable parts.
After that, he edits in the above timeline by copying footage from the lower one. It’s actually a handy workflow once you get a grip with it since it allows you to have the entire edit always in sight. If you think about it for a minute, it’s actually the much-praised approach of DaVinci Resolve’s Cut page.
The process of trimming and copying is usually done with at least a couple of clicks or a shortcut on the keyboard. Having the panel instead, it’s a matter of pressing one button for each task. One dial is configured to scrub through footage while edits are done with buttons.
The main control dial allows jogging quickly from one side to the other of each clip if you want to check the edit you just made. It seems actually much more complicated than it really is, and most of all, it’s much faster than any keyboard shortcut and it allows to discard almost completely the mouse.
The integration with Lumetri, however, seems to be the real deal. Probably one of the best features besides the time-saving. The physical dial gives a major upgrade and finer control over the grade.
You have immediate tactile feedback for the changes you make, getting much more granular control compared to a mouse. After all, it’s no mystery that all the top colorist use panels, could they all be wrong? But there’s an even one more thing better on top: it’s the fullscreen mode.
In Lumetri you have to move the mouse on the panel if you want to change settings, load a LUT or whatever. With a dedicated panel like Loupedeck’s, you can keep the image fullscreen and use the buttons and dials to grade. It’s not far from mind that having such a wide image gives you better control and is surely less tiresome on the eyes.
Well then, this was Loupedeck’s take on the control panel for editing. If you’re a Premiere user, you should not think twice and try it out for yourself. Odds are you’ll immediately see the difference and won’t regret it.