Editors Keys very kindly lent the site a backlit illuminated FCPX keyboard to try out. So why not take it out on a real job and use it under pressure? What was the verdict? I've been using a standard low profile Final Cut Pro X keyboard from Editors Keys for a while now. (Purchased) In fact, it gets so much use, the E, C, A, S and nudge right keys have quite a bit of wear on them. Not too sure what that means about my editing skills, but interesting to know which keys get the most battering. So when Editors Keys asked me if I'd like to borrow one of their new illuminated FCPX keyboards I said 'of course.' Especially as I was working on a job in the next few days where I knew I'd be in a dark OB environment. The illuminated keyboard was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign that was oversubscribed by 100%. The model tested is priced at £99 on the Editors Keys website. Once I got over how impressive and sturdy the box was, out came the new black keyboard. Nice to see that they have added labels for every FCPX function on the extended or right area. This gives you labels for keyword tags, timecode and the go to functions. These were missing on the previous model. The keyboard also comes with a long 6 foot USB cable which makes plugging it into a computer under a desk or behind monitors easy. It is made entirely of plastic, not like the aluminium slab of previous keyboards. They seem to weigh about the same. Although I can twist the new model slightly, it is more than robust enough. And then the big moment. Plug it in! It works as expected, however, there are instructions included to run an Editors Keys app that I never really got around to. So how does it perform? Under lights, you still see the lights around the keys, but not much through the actual keys themselves.
It's a different story with low lighting as the whole keyboard lights up!
FCPX purists out there might say that you should know where all the keys and shortcuts are. I disagree and anything that helps me edit better or faster is welcome. I started off thinking that the backlight was just a gimmick, but after the end of a busy three days doing 12-hour shifts for broadcast TV, I rather liked it. I also like the fact that it is more tactile than the previous keyboards, giving a good feedback on clicks and audible clicks.
If you use this in a bright office, you won't get the benefits from an illuminated keyboard. Also, the keyboard draws more power down the USB cable and a couple of times I got the message saying there wasn't enough power on the USB bus. Lastly and probably related to the previous issue, there are no USB ports on the keyboard to plug your thumb drives into.
I really like it, I'm surprised, I think the backlight is great, but the overall 'feel' of the keys is even better. Coming from a background of 'clicky' Sony keyboards from the tape editing days (BKE 9400 anybody?) I prefer the key action to the previous low profile aluminium models. They also have backlit keyboards for Avid, Premiere, DaVinci Resolve and Edius along with sets for image and sound production programs. Shame I'm going to have to send it back. Disclosure:
The keyboard was borrowed free for testing with no caveats. FCP.co get a small commission on the affiliate link should you choose to buy one which all helps to go towards the hosting costs of the website.
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X. You can find him on Twitter as @peterwiggins or as he runs the majority of this site, you can contact him here.