You may have been using image or video editing programs for years or you might have just begun. Either way, it’s always helpful to invest in tools that can streamline your workflow.
Even though I’ve been using productivity software for a long time, I only recently came across Editing Consoles and what they are capable of.
Editing Consoles are hardware with dedicated shortcut buttons and controls for audio, video or image-editing programs. They can compliment or replace a mouse / keyboard and aim to speed up your workflow. It is a good idea to invest in one if you use these programs a lot, with Loupedeck regarded as the market leader.
In this post I will run through how Editing Consoles work and what you can do with them, along with some of the most popular ones on the market. Whilst they are very useful for audio editing, for the purposes of this post I will be sticking to photo and video editing.
What Programs Can Editing Consoles Be Used For?
Most Editing Consoles for image or video editing support the main industry-standard software packages as follows:
- Image Editing:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Lightroom
- Adobe Illustrator
- Video Editing:
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Adobe After Effects
- Final Cut Pro
- Capture One Pro
There are also Editing Consoles designed for specific software packages such as DaVinci Resolve.
How Do Editing Consoles Work?
Typical Hardware Controls
Having tactile hardware controls for variable adjustments means that editing can be more precise and hence quicker overall.
Dedicated buttons for frequently used functions avoid the need for keyboard shortcuts or mouse-navigation. This improves ergonomics and once again, saves time.
With your commonly used functions on a piece of hardware in front of you, it means that much of the time you can switch to editing in full-screen and take advantage of the increased screen real-estate.
Controls on a typical Editing Console include:
- Knobs, dials and rotary encoders
- Sliders and faders
- Trackpads / pressure-sensitive pads
- Touch screens
What Functions Can Editing Consoles Control?
Editing Consoles can control almost anything you want but certain types of hardware control are more suited to particular functions than others.
Buttons can be assigned to commonly used functions such as copy, paste, export or Lightroom presets, Photoshop actions and other macros. Buttons may also have built-in screens or be adjacent to a dynamic display to show their assigned function.
Knobs, dials, trackballs and encoder rings are more suited to variables such as adjustments of tones, levels and color grading.
Sliders are suited for horizontal or vertical adjustments, zoom levels and real-time audio control.
Trackpads and pressure pads can be used for positional adjustment or navigation.
Touchscreen displays can assume the role of any of the physical controls by their nature. The downside is that there is no tactile feedback so you have to take your eyes of the screen to use them.
Can Editing Consoles Be Customized?
One of the main benefits of Editing Consoles is that the layouts fit your specific workflow.
There will typically be a number of default layouts to fit the industry-standard applications which can auto-detect the app being used and adjust.
Usually, there is also the ability to fully customize each control and save custom configurations to fit your specific needs. This therefore also allows usage for apps that aren’t supported by default but native support usually comes with additional benefits so is preferred.
Some products also have modular hardware to add or remove only the controls you need.
Do You Need An Editing Console?
An Editing Console is invaluable if you are doing a high volume of repetitive work as the time-savings to your workflow quickly add up.
For example, if you are a photographer and need to adjust the levels on a set of wedding photos then an Editing Console can make this much faster.
The same can be said for video editing. If you have a YouTube channel and you have a lot of footage to process quickly on a regular basis, then an Editing Console is a must-have as soon as you can afford one.
Time savings aren’t the only benefit however since Editing Consoles offer improved ergonomics for frequently used functions when compared to keyboard shortcuts.
If your business or hobby requires you to use a wide variety of creative programs but only occasionally then you might not see the return on investment as quickly. Undoubtedly, usage will be a slicker and a more pleasurable experience if you have the money but it is less of a necessity if you don’t have a huge amount of content to process.
What Are The Most Popular Editing Consoles for Photo and Video Editing?
Below you will find a summary table showing the relative cost of the most popular Editing Consoles that I will run through. This should give some context when thinking about where your requirements currently sit.
|Monogram Creative Console||$$$|
|Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor||$|
|Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel||$$$|
|Tangent Wave 2||$$$|
The Loupedeck+ is the most popular Editing Console on the market. It is affordable enough for beginners and also has enough features to satisfy professionals as well.
Compared to other entry-level products the Loupedeck+ features a lot of controls for the money although the unit is not particularly compact.
Check the latest price on Amazon here (paid link).
Aimed at professionals, the Loupedeck CT is Loupedeck’s flagship Editing Console with a pricetag to match. Compared to some other professional Editing Consoles, it is still reasonably priced however.
More compact than the Loupedeck+ but with more features, the CT features a touchscreen display and control wheel with integrated display.
The CT is designed to offer more customization and is designed for using multiple creative environments at the same time.
The materials are more premium, with an aluminum case and a more up to date design that looks like a piece of kit that I’d love to have in my set-up.
Find the latest price on Amazon here (paid link).
Check out Loupedeck’s video introduction to the CT below:
Monogram Creative Console
Formally known as Palette Gear, Monogram’s Creative Console is a modular Editing Console which builds on their previous offerings.
Being modular means that you only need to purchase the control modules that you really need and that you can configure the layout to your exact requirements. It also means that your console can expand if your needs do.
Arguably the end result is not particularly good-looking although it is functional.
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor
Blackmagic Design is a leading manufacturer of professional video editing equipment. They also created the popular video editing software DaVinci Resolve.
As you would expect, they produce Editing Consoles specifically aimed at their own software.
Blackmagic’s entry-level offering is the Speed Editior which is price similarly to the Loupedeck+. However, the Speed Editor is pure function over style, featuring a small keyboard and single rotary control. It is wireless however, so that’s something.
Check it out on Amazon here (paid link).
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel
The Micro Panel looks much more professional but comes with a massive price-tag for what it is. This clearly reflects Blackmagic’s customer base.
The unit includes three trackballs and multiple knobs for color correction, etc. It also has a number of shortcut buttons.
Expensive as it is, Blackmagic make editing consoles that are $20,000+ so the Micro Panel is actually towards the entry-level end of their offerings.
See the latest pricing on Amazon here (paid link).
Aimed at students and occasional colorists, the Ripple is Tangent’s entry level offering.
The unit is compact and features three trackballs, three rotary controls and a number of shortcut buttons.
Find the product on Amazon here (paid link).
Tangent Wave 2
Imagine a Tangent Ripple with additional buttons, knobs and OLED display to show functionality. That’s the Wave 2 in a nutshell.
The price-tag is significant and is on par with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel.
Check the latest pricing on Amazon here (paid link).
Editing Consoles are clearly essential pieces of kit for full-time image or video editors. They can make your workflow substantially quicker and more ergonomically comfortable. Whether or not you need to invest in one is going to depend on how much editing you actually undertake. If you spend a substantial amount of time doing it then it makes perfect sense.
Unless you need some highly specialized hardware then you can’t really go wrong looking at either of the two Loupedeck Editing Consoles. They offer good value for money and have received many positive reviews. The Loupedeck+ is best if you’re just starting out and the Loupedeck CT offers that next step up if you turn professional or need a few extra features.
If you found this article helpful then feel free to check out my post Essential Gear for Digital Creatives: Complete Guide for a breakdown of other useful tech. You might also be interested in the post Do I Need a 4k Monitor for Photo Editing?
Then, head over to my Recommended Gear page for the top products you need in your life.
Featured image: diignat / stock.adobe.com
Adobe, After Effects, Illustrator, Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.