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ShuttlePro Mulitmedia Controller

Jim Kanter reviews: Contour Designs Shuttle Pro 2 Jim Kanter reviews ShuttlePro Mulitmedia Controller
A Creative COW Product Review



Jim Kanter reviews Shuttle Pro 2
Jim Kanter
Jim Kanter
Apple Certified DV Trainer | Apple Consultant |Adobe Certified Expert
www.d-film.com
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
©2004 Jim Kanter and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Jim Kanter reviews the Shuttle Pro 2 from Contour Designs and concludes "The Shuttle Pro 2 is habit forming. Use one for a day or two and you'll be hooked." Read on to find out why Jim gives it 5 COWs.


Technology has a tremendous impact on the editing process. I first started editing film with glue and a razor blade too many decades ago to want to remember. Then in film school came the efficiency of a guillotine tape splicer, the Moviola's foot pedals, and the Steenbeck's sliders. Editing got much easier. 1982 brought the ease of accurately moving through videotapes with jog wheels and shuttle controls. In the 90's keyboard and mouse editing with Avid, Premiere and Media 100 was efficient in a new way, but then the Lightworks system reminded me how useful a dedicated edit controller can be. I missed my jog and shuttle controls. Contour Designs changed all that a couple of years ago when they released the first Shuttle Pro.

I was very excited when I bought mine -a shuttle control, jog wheel and programmable keys all in a compact unit that had an appealing space-age look. I liked the melted silver look-high tech yet organic at the same time. Needless to say I was very happy to have a familiar playback control at my fingertips, and the ability to program commonly-used menu functions into buttons was a real convenience. But then reality set in.

The original drivers had a latency problem. In Final Cut Pro the play head would continue moving through frames one at a time even after I had stopped turning the jog wheel. Sometimes long after, and I couldn't do anything until it had stopped. A minor annoyance became a big hassle as deadlines approached. Disappointed, my Shuttle Pro soon found itself on the shelf with the guillotine tape splicer.

Cut to: Many, many moons later. Contour Designs reworks and re-releases the Shuttle Pro as version 2 with new features and drivers. Same basic shape only now it's black with silver buttons. Very cool looking and less prone to showing scuffing than the silver plastic of the original model. The metal jog wheel has a more substantial feel to it than the previous plastic one and now has three dimples instead of one so it's more convenient to scrub through timelines, scroll through text, or control volume. Two new buttons (making a total of 15) added on either side make it a snap to add an In or Out point or jump to the beginning or end of a timeline or block of text. Small ergonomic improvements that are surprisingly welcome. The big question: what about the latency?

Hooray! New drivers, no latency, and they even work with the older model and the scaled down ShuttleXpress. The controller is snappy and immediate in its response. It even has some additional smarts so it detects the current application and automatically switches to settings for it. Furthermore, there can be different settings for different uses of an application. For example, three different settings for Final Cut Pro ship with it: Edit/Viewer, Edit/Timeline, and Log and Capture. Settings come for the more common audio and video applications and even for the Microsoft Office applications. Contour Designs has a history of periodically releasing additional sets, and of course you can make and modify your own.

A nice addition to the new driver is the ability to run macros as well as send single keystrokes or key combinations, perform mouse clicks, control brightness and volume, etc.. When you assign a macro you can go into the Key Composer to create or edit macros that play a series of keystrokes, write blocks of text, and allow a timed pause between steps. Very handy for specific keystroke sequences or adding boilerplate text to documents and spreadsheets.

Settings can be made for the individual buttons and also for the 14 zones of degree of turn of the shuttle ring (and even during the transition from one zone to another). The only difficulty working with the Shuttle Pro is remembering what you've set all the possible settings to do.

The controller is symmetrical so it works easily with either left or right hand. It's light and just small enough to put in a briefcase and take with you. Nine of the keys have removable caps so you can easily label them (more useful than you think!). It comes with drivers for Mac OS 8.6-9.x and OSX 10.1 or later, and Windows 98, 98SE, Me, 2000 and XP. The drivers install a shortcut icon on the right side of the menu bar in Mac OSX, a nice touch creating convenient access to the settings, and there are significantly more presets for Mac than Windows.

It requires 10 MB of hard disk space for the drivers and settings, and an available USB port. Mac users need to be working on a system with a G3, G4 or G5. For more information, check out their website at http://www.contourdesign.com.



The Shuttle Pro 2 is habit forming. Use one for a day or two and you'll be hooked. If you're a professional editor working with audio or video, get one. You'll be glad you did!

I give it 5 cows.




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