A special video editing keyboard may seem like overkill to most casual users, but don’t write it off until you try it DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor from Blackmagic. This little gadget packs so much efficiency, including the brand’s Studio software, into one small package that it just might be worth the money.
from black magic Solve DaVinci is easily the best free video editor you can find. Seasoned editors might find the migration a bit difficult, as the program has some workflow quirks that are just different enough to trip muscle memory, but in my experience converting my workflow was well worth the transition.
The Speed Editor, one of Blackmagic’s own editorial boards, is a special device designed to integrate smoothly with Resolve. It has six sets of buttons assigned to functions in the editor, plus a giant wheel for scrubbing through clips. If you’ve ever spent time in an editing room, it will be familiar (if it’s very small). For people interested in making indie movies and more, a tool like this can help.
The $395 sticker price might seem shocking, but the company throws in a copy of it too DaVinci Resolve Studio, which usually costs $295 on its own. While the free version is already more than enough for most people, Studio adds a wide library of visual effects tools, support for 10-bit video, and the DaVinci Neural Engine to make some effects tools faster.
A portable editing room
The most notable aspect of the Speed Editor, aside from the striking watch face – more on that below – is how compact it is. It’s slightly smaller than an iPad (though obviously much thicker), but has six sets of keys that surprisingly cover many of the essentials most video editors need, such as basic functions and multi-camera controls.
On the rear, it has a single USB-C port for both connecting to a mounting rig and charging. Yes, this editing board is wireless, but there is no power switch or method for Bluetooth pairing without first connecting it to your computer via USB-C. This is especially annoying if you edit on multiple devices. I use a Windows desktop and a MacBook Air, with DaVinci Resolve installed. Technically, the board is compatible with both, but swapping them around is so tedious that I wouldn’t recommend trying it. The only way to do this seems to be to completely undock the board, but even that is flaky. It would have been nice to have a board that supports multiple systems, as most wireless keyboards do.
While this quirk is disappointing, the Speed Editor is otherwise a fantastic tool for portable editing. It’s light enough to slip into a bag and sits comfortably next to a laptop on small coffee tables, and I was even able to use it while editing on an airplane. The flexibility of taking studio-level tools anywhere is hard to underestimate.
Portability aside, the dial is the star of the show here, and I can’t express how much better video editing is when you use it. The machined metal knob in the center of the device rotates smoothly but still provides very precise control. You can tap it to make it spin (not that you need to) and stop it in a pinch. A single dimple lets you move the dial with just one finger, and a rubber bezel ensures you never lose your grip on it.
The dial has three modes: Shuttle, Jog, and Scroll, each enabled by buttons just above the wheel. Each of them has a red LED to indicate which mode you are currently in. These may be familiar to veteran video editors with professional experience, but for everyone else, here’s how they work:
Shuttle: In this mode, the dial controls the playback speed. This can range from 0.25x to 32x depending on how far you turn the knob from the starting point. This works in both directions, allowing you to scrub backward through the timeline up to 32x.