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The Latest Weapon In The Digital Video Revolution
March 13th, 2001

Gary: Oh, yeah, baby, that's the way. Oh, right there. That's the stuff.

Randy: Dude! What the hell are you doing over there? Sounds pretty fun.

Gary: It's probably not what you think. I am precisely positioning my raw video footage for editing using the coolest little device I have seen in quite a while.

Randy: Do I want to know?

Gary: It's always filth with you, isn't it?

Randy: Well, yeah...

Gary: Like the very first time you used Photoshop. Do you remember the image you composited?

Randy: Remember? Hell, I have that thing enlarged above my bed. And I know you won't be able to mention any more details of that incident in this family column.

Gary: I couldn't mention that on Cinemax, dude.

Randy: So, let's tell everyone about the cool input device we have both been using.

Them there's a lot of buttons!

Gary: You got it. It's the ShuttlePRO Multimedia Controller from Contour Design. And it kicks butt. (I am trying to tame the column a little by not saying "ass" so much.)

Randy: Good work there. I will agree about the ShuttlePRO. It is a great tool, and one of the most original USB devices I have seen in ages. And...

The Idiots: It's only for the Mac!!!

Gary: It's nice to say that for a change.

Randy: Yeah, it really looks like Contour Design is on to something here. I mean with Steve Jobs envisioning the next computer revolution to be desktop video production, much like desktop publishing was the revolution of the eighties, Contour Design seems to have made a smart move here.

Gary: If Apple is making by far the best software to create digital video, it only makes sense that somebody should create some killer peripherals to go with your Mac and make it even better.

Randy: So, the details: The ShuttlePRO is a USB controller that has a jog and shuttle wheel, much like older, analog editing systems, and thirteen programmable buttons so that you can make the most of editing video. That's right, I said thirteen.

Gary: My first job out of college was as a videographer and editor, and I loved the old equipment. I had an old analog board, and I am sure that some of you remember Video Toaster for the Commodore Amiga. It was used to create digital transitions for video in the good old days. I thought I was in hog heaven getting to use such equipment. Of course I could never have had my own editing suite. The one I used at work cost over sixty-thousand dollars.

Randy: And now for under two-thousand smackers, you can get an iMac and a DV camera, and a ShuttlePRO. Who says the good old days were so good anyway?

Gary: By the way, that price includes a DV camera that delivers quality as good, if not better, than the twenty-five thousand dollar Ikegami Betamax jobs we used to use. And about twenty-five pounds lighter. Plus, you don't need all the midgets in white body suits to hold the lighting equipment, and they squirt baby oil whenever...

Randy: Dude! You're rambling. Back to the ShuttlePRO.

Gary: Right. Well, it gives you very precise control over scrubbing through your footage as you edit, and the buttons allow you to set in and out points, for example, without ever taking your hands off of the device.

Randy: Of course your video software has to support it. The ShuttlePRO needs a keyboard shortcut equivalent in order to program a button. Since there are no keyboard shortcuts in iMovie to set in and out points, you still have to use your mouse for that. However, Final Cut Pro has keyboard equivalents for this and it works great. I wouldn't call this a flaw of the ShuttlePRO, but it really is more useful with Final Cut.

Ooohh! Sleek!

Gary: There was one other thing that I was worried about when I got my ShuttlePRO. With thirteen buttons, and all of the possible combinations of the jog and shuttle wheel, there are no less than fifty-five parameters to program in order to customize the ShuttlePRO. As I opened the package, I prayed that Contour Design had included some solution to this.

Randy: Thank goodness they did. When you install the control panel, it includes application specific settings for iMovie, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere. And their pre-made sets are very well thought out. They even preset the jog and shuttle wheels to be speed sensitive. So the more you twist the wheel the faster the video scrubs. Just like the old school analog controllers! More pre-configured sets are promised soon, including settings for ProTools, Media100, and even Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena. I personally configured my ShuttlePRO so that I can use it with Simple Text. Not that I would. It just cool to know I can.

Gary: This thing looks like a real winner. Even down to the little details. Things like removable button covers, that allow you to slip in labels for your buttons, so you never have to guess what does what. And the software seems rock solid. I haven't had a conflict since I installed the software, and I really use the thing every time I fire up some digital video editing software. I had been goofing with iMovie just to see what it really was capable of, but as soon as I saw how much better the ShuttlePRO works with Final Cut Pro, I switched right back.

Randy: Well, man, do you want to see what movie I edited with my new ShuttlePRO?

Gary: Sure, I guess... Holy Lord! How is that possible? She IS a real pro! Uh... believe me folks, that is all I can say about Randy's movie, if you ever want to see this column again.

Randy: Dude, it's just a video about my cat. Until next time folks.

(Steve Martin, please don't sue us.)

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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