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Review: Specialist Keyboard for Apple Final Cut Pro

January, 2007




Specialist Keyboard for Apple Final Cut Pro
Mac OS X v 10.2.5 or later.
USB keyboard $99, Bluetooth keyboard $169
Keycaps kit for the Apple Pro keyboard $49.



Review by Steve Douglas

When it comes to editing, time is always a constraint. Whether it comes to meeting a client's deadline or your own, time is always a factor. Most everyone is aware that post-production always takes what little time you have at your disposal and then some. Thus, any shortcuts that can speed up your workflow will surely be welcome. Shortcuts are always at your beck and call when it comes to using most any editing application. However, most applications have keyboard commands intrinsic to just their application and no others. Each editor develops, over time, their own workflow and utilizes the shortcuts that they find most advantageous to their own needs and style. For me, there are keyboard shortcuts I use all the time, they make my work and life easier. Some keyboard shortcuts I should use but don't, and some I have no real use for at all. The ones I should use, but don't, may be because I never bothered to learn them in the first place.

That's where the Specialist Keyboard for Apple Final Cut Pro comes in. Produced by World Tech Devices, the Final Cut Pro keyboard is fully color coded for keyboard commands. Back in the days of old I recall attempting to use some of the labels that came with early versions of Final Cut Pro and color-coded stick on labels that came from elsewhere. I hated them all. No matter how carefully I attempted to place them on the keyboard they rarely lasted for any length of time, peeled off and just plain looked unprofessional. The World Tech Final Cut Keyboard is an entirely different beast. Each of the icons on the color-coded keycaps are laser etched into the key cap itself. They are color coded by separate command categories including Editing, Timeline, Navigation, Tools and Markers. The colors used are clearly delineated, even for a colorblind editor such as I am. Using the standard creamy white for some and yellow, purple, green and orange for others depending upon the category. I am not left asking myself whether one is green and the other 'greenish looking but could be something else' as I  sometimes wonder when viewing the different colored rendering bars in Final Cut Pro. Because the keyboard shortcuts and icons are etched into the plastic, one doesn't need to fear that they will wear off, peal back, or disintegrate over time. They will be there and useful for as long as you own it.

The keyboard itself is the same original keyboard frame that Apple ships with its computers except that World Tech has pulled the original key caps and installed their own. It is a high quality keyboard with no flimsy feel or weak points that I can denote. I am using the Final Cut Specialty keyboard as I type this review and the feel and key response time is just as it should be. To switch over to the keyboard you need not shut down the computer. There is nothing to install except the keyboard itself. Just unplug the one you have been using and connect the specialty board as you had your other. It is that quick and simple to do. There are two USB ports for mouse or other USB devices. Additionally, with each keyboard comes a Quick reference card with descriptions of each etched icon to make learning that much easier.

It should be noted that this is a 'Specialist' keyboard with keyboard short cuts found only within Final Cut Pro and not any other application. While many shortcuts are often universal from application to application, many more are not. It doesn't mean that this keyboard works any differently than any other keyboard. It doesn't, you can use the Specialty keyboard like you would any other keyboard when working in After Effects, Photoshop or Word documents. While World Tech produces a number of specialty keyboards for Photoshop, Avid, Premier Pro and a great many more it would be ludicrous to consider purchasing a keyboard for every application one uses. I would certainly suggest that if Final Cut Pro is your main NLE than that would be the one to get.

The bottom line on World Tech Device's Specialty Keyboard for Final Cut Pro is that this is the perfect keyboard for someone who is just learning Final Cut and needs to see or be reminded of the many shortcuts that will make their job easier. It is also just as good for the advanced editor who wishes to expand their use of the shortcuts they have yet to learn or have forgotten about.

Steve Douglas is an underwater videographer and contributor to numerous film festivals around the world. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and a recent History channel MegaDisaster show. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Kenya, Bali & Komodo in 2007, and Costa Rica and Palau in 2008. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.

copyright © Steve Douglas 2007

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