It is now ten years since we bought our first dedicated keyboard for FCP, how things have changed since then. We still have coloured keycaps but we now have a very, very different layout!
Working an NLE should be a bit like driving a car, concentrating on what is happening in front of you without having to look down at the controls. Also keyboard commands are the quickest way to edit, shorcuts can take away a lot of the repeated mouse clicking needed to navigate around the interface. To get that muscle memory you need to know exactly what key does what and using a dedicated keyboard speeds up the learning process by a large factor.
So this week we took delivery of a brand new dedicated keyboard for FCPX, the two older keyboards you see in the picture are not in retirement just yet! But what a revelation, a dedicated keyboard could be the single most useful tool for quicker and better editing in FCPX.
The new model we chose was the thin aluminium style Apple keyboard from LogicKeyboard, chosen because our previous keyboards from them have never let us down. That includes one unfortunate episode in a car park when the old style keyboard got dropped and all the key caps popped off leaving us in the rain wondering what the layout was to get them all back on again correctly. We didn't get them all back in the right places, but not far off.
LogicKeyboards are not the only manufacturer of multicolour flavour keyboards. Bella also produce a range of dedicated keyboards for NLEs including FCPX. From what we have seen at trade shows though they seem to be fairly chunky and jog wheels don't seem the same unless they have the ballistics of a Sony tape machine knob. Editors Keys also have an FCPX keyboard, slightly cheaper than the other two and the same slim form factor as the Apple keyboard, but in black this time.
As pleased as we are with our purchase, there is an alternative to a dedicated keyboard and that's using flexible overlays or stickers that go on the key caps themselves. Not only is this a cheaper option, but they will also work on MacBook Pros.
Amazon and Ebay are awash with different silicon overlays and sticker packs. If you go down this route just make sure you buy the product for the keyboard you own. Remember there are two sizes of the thin Apple aluminium keyboard - with or without the number pad.
Next on the list for us will be experimenting with a Magic Trackpad. We are still inspired by Jason Chong's video and as a Wacom with FCPX isn't really working out for us, the combination of a dedicated keyboard and trackpad just might be a winner.
So what do you use? Let us know in the comments below as we are always keen to find out how other editors work!