Video editing can be tedious. Typically, it takes about an hour and a half of editing to edit a minute of video. So if you are producing a 7 minute video, you should allow about a day of editing.
This ratio can of course vary. My last video is almost 12 minutes long, but it took me about four hours to edit. This is because there weren’t too many cuts to make. But it was mostly a video screenshot. It was mainly a video screenshot on how to create a 3D object.
In contrast, the video I made a month ago, which is about 3D printers, took me almost four days to edit, but only resulted in about 8 minutes of final video. This production was much more complex.
And, right now, I’m working on a new video about a 3D printer that I built. I filmed the entire building process (which took almost a day). But my video will be about much more than the building process. I had to keep this streak short, while also bringing up a number of questions and issues that I found during build.
There’s a lot more to the final video, including photos of 3D objects and a concluding footage. Still, converting 8 hours of video into four minutes of final editing (just for that part of the review) took place over a four-day period, for a total of around 16 hours of work.
Since the ratio of working time to result time is enormous, anything that can reduce the time required to edit a video is worthy of attention. This is how I come to the Loupedeck CT, a control tool that costs 499 €, which I use to speed up my production work on Final Cut Pro X. Loupedeck, a company based in Helsinki, told me sent a device to be tested.
Not just for Final Cut
To be clear, the Loupedeck CT isn’t just for Final Cut. In addition to Final Cut Pro X, it comes with profiles for Ableton Live, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Illustrator, Capture One Pro, and OBS Studio.
With the included control panel and Loupedeck software, you can also add your own profiles.
I am a very active Photoshop and Illustrator user. I have decades of muscle memory for both of these applications. Specifically, I rarely spend more than an hour per project in Photoshop, but I can spend weeks in a row in Final Cut. That’s why I only tested the Loupedeck with Final Cut, and this article is primarily intended for Final Cut editors.
Loupedeck CT equipment
In many ways, the Loupedeck CT looks like the big brother of Elgato’s Stream Deck, which I also use with Final Cut. Like the Stream Deck, the Loupedeck CT features a series of programmable buttons with button caps that you can customize using profiles. But the Loupedeck adds potentiometers and additional buttons that the Stream Deck does not have.
In my opinion, the Stream Deck (which was originally designed for players who stream on Twitch) does buttons a lot better than the Loupedeck, but the added value of potentiometers should not be underestimated. I’ll talk about the pots first, then I’ll come back to the buttons later.
You can clearly see the potentiometers and the Ferris wheel. Note the screen inside the wheel. Image: Loupedeck
The device itself measures 160x150mm, roughly the size of a paperback book. It has three small dials on either side of its set of customizable buttons, and a single large dial in the middle, below the buttons.
The Loupedeck automatically changes profile when you change programs. Once in a program, you can create workspaces. So even though there are only six dials, you can give them a lot of different controls. I set up a color correction workspace, with the faders set to handle red, green, blue, as well as saturation and a few other controls. In another workspace, I set the pots to control the X and Y position on the screen, scaling and rotation.
But my favorite feature, and it’s what makes the Loupedeck worth its price, is the ability to program the dial for different functions. There is a round touchscreen in the middle of the wheel which you can use to change modes. I configured the wheel to advance the entire timeline left or right, or to move my edit pointer on the timeline.
It took a few tries to get it to work (to move the timeline you need to set the wheel to “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal”), but once I set it the experience was sublime.
I am constantly moving on the timeline. The ability to have a nice analog wheel to control it is reminiscent of old-fashioned video editing, on tape, and is a huge plus. Thanks to the Loupedeck’s programmable wheels, I can move very quickly to exactly where I want to be on the timeline, move my edit point, and zoom in or out.
It’s a very organic experience.
What’s not so organic are the pimples. Unlike the Stream Deck, which you press mechanically like a keyboard, the Loupedeck’s buttons are touch sensitive with weirdly poorly programmed haptic feedback. I found that the buttons on the Loupedeck did not always respond as expected. Debouncing needs a bit of work, as buttons tapped once sometimes perform their action twice.
In addition, the Stream Deck allows you to put the icons you want on the buttons. The Loupedeck lets you change the text of macro buttons, but it’s nowhere near as flexible for preset actions. And forget about the idea of having personalized icons for each button, because that is not possible.
There are also physical buttons that work quite well. The downside is that you can’t reprogram what is displayed on the physical button caps. Unfortunately, these buttons are labeled with Save, Tab, Undo, an image of a keyboard, a green circle, and other labels that are relevant for a keyboard, but not as relevant for video production.
The software, at least on the Mac, is in the menu bar. When I first opened it the font was ridiculously, ridiculously small. But you can resize the window to make the font bigger and much more readable.
Loupedeck’s configuration software is no better or worse than any other key automation product. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right option. For example, my first attempt to control the wheel the way I wanted was to try “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal + Shift” which caused my whole machine to freeze until I manually cleared the shift key. The correct solution was the “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal” parameter, which I finally found after a few unsuccessful attempts.
An interesting addition to the software is the ability to create macros. You can chain together long sets of commands, so that one press of a key can perform an entire sequence of actions.
After using two 15-key Stream Decks for a few years, and the Loupedeck CT for a few months, I’ve come to some conclusions. Both are wired devices and connect via USB Type-A connections.
The basic 15-key Stream Deck costs $ 149, when in stock. Elgato also offers a 32-key version for € 249.
The Loupedeck CT costs € 499, which is considerably more expensive than the two Stream Decks. In fact, you could buy two of the larger Stream Decks or three of the smaller ones, and still be below the cost of a single Loupedeck CT.
But the Loupedeck CT has 12 keys that accept custom labels, and 20 more that don’t accept custom labels, but can be programmed to perform custom actions. The Loupedeck also has six thumbwheels and a Ferris wheel with its own customizable display.
However, the button action and full graphical customization features of the Stream Deck are far better than the buttons on the Loupedeck CT. If you don’t care about the faders or the wheel, grab the Stream Deck. It’s very clear.
On the other hand, if you want the potentiometers and the big dial (and, like I said, when they’re well integrated into Final Cut, they’re life-changing), then the Loupedeck CT is well worth the price. I can’t tell you exactly how much time I saved using the Loupedeck, but I can tell you that my overall Final Cut productivity has increased dramatically because timeline navigation is now smooth, very responsive, and almost instantaneous. .
So here is. If you know you want the pots and the wheel, then the Loupedeck CT is a great choice. If you only want keys, Stream Decks can’t be beat. I use two Stream Decks and the Loupedeck CT on my editing machine, and this combination – although expensive – greatly improves productivity. Now that I’m using all of those extra control surfaces, I don’t think I want to go back to a basic keyboard and mouse.
What about you? What tricks do you use to get the most productivity out of your video editing? Are you on Final Cut? Are you a premiere guru? Did you make the jump to Resolve? Let us know in the comments below.