Test Bench:Videonics, Inc Command Post Media Controller
$199

Videonics, Inc.

1370 Dell Avenue

Campbell, CA 95008

(408) 866-8300


www.videonics.com

The Videonics CommandPost is a keyboard and mouse adjunct designed to make editing quicker and easier by providing push-button shortcuts for often-used editing functions. CommandPost is aimed at editors of all skill levels, but will likely appeal to anyone who spends a great deal of time editing. In addition, it will be welcomed by editors who long for the tactile controls of a linear edit suite, or those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with keyboard-and-mouse editing.

The unit can control an array of programs including Adobe Premiere, Ulead MediaStudio Pro, Apple iMovie and Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress/MCXpress, Canopus Rex Edit, Digital Origin Edit DV and Roto DV and in-sync Speed Razor editing programs as well as various other software applications.


Installation

We tested the unit on a Celeron 400, 128MB RAM, 10GB HDD running Windows 2000 Professional running Adobe Premiere 5.1. Installation was quick and easy. Since the CommandPost uses a USB connection, it’s as easy as plug-and-play. Plug the USB cable into the CommandPost and plug the other end into the computer, then stick the CD into the drive and run the installer.

CommandPost comes with several pre-programmed key templates. The templates are files that tell the unit what action each of its keys and controls will perform in a given application. In addition to the included pre-set templates, the unit is completely customizable.

Included are sheets of stick-on labels with common button uses and two clear plastic overlays. Although the ability to completely customize the set-up, and therefore the faceplate, is necessary, it would have been nice if Videonics had sent a pre-printed faceplate for each of the included keyboard templates. Instead, we had to look up the Adobe Premiere template on the included CD-ROM to know where to place the stickers on our overlays.


Editing with CommandPost

You can program CommandPost’s fifteen keys, take bar, jog/shuttle dial and joystick in a variety of ways. While the take bar makes the unit look like a special effects generator, it does not actually trigger transition effects as linear editors might expect. Instead, it can be programmed for a number of uses; as a scroll bar or zoom control, for instance. The joystick, which is an alternate pointing device, can be used for most click-and-drag functions. Pushing down on the joystick is the equivalent of clicking the mouse button. We found that it was difficult to perform detailed edits requiring fine movements using the joystick, and opted to use the mouse on a few occasions.

We edited a short program using CommandPost and found that it certainly helped speed up the process. We quickly adapted to such tasks as starting and stopping captures, jumping to the beginning of our project, playing, stopping, shuttling, slicing, deleting, saving and rendering without having to dig through pull-down menus. Shoppers should note that the CommandPost does not completely replace your mouse and keyboard, but works in conjunction with them as a supplement.


Commanding Other Apps

CommandPost is not just for video editing. We tried using CommandPost with several applications for which key templates come ready-made. Using CommandPost with Acrobat Reader, Photoshop, QuickTime Player and even Notepad was easy enough, although we had to remember which keys did what.

When using CommandPost with a variety of software applications it will automatically switch to new key configurations to match the application that you are using. For instance, if you are editing in Adobe Premiere and then launch Photoshop to prepare a still image, CommandPost will switch from the Premiere key template to the Photoshop template. When you return to Premiere, it reverts back to that template. You could have a template programmed for virtually every application you use, simplifying a vast majority of your most common tasks. On the downside, a single button will perform different tasks from application to application. This constant changing of templates and overlays can become confusing.

One of the strengths of the CommandPost is its programmability; we were able to customize our key templates to suit our needs. Of course, after reconfiguring the key commands to suit our personal preferences, we had to peel our labels off of the plastic overlay and then re-attach them to match our custom locations. Fortunately, the thick labels peeled and reattached relatively easily.


Our Final Cut

Using the CommandPost was easy and fun, and it satisfied our itch to have the feel of an edit controller in our hands. While CommandPost worked well, we were not impressed with the overall look of the unit. Its reliance upon stickers stuck onto plastic overlays makes it look less than professional. We think most users will wish for more than the two included templates. We wish Videonics had included a variety of pre-printed overlays.

Ultimately, the unit did the job and did it well. We liked the ability to perform often-used functions at the touch of a button and loved the jog/shuttle feature. If you want to combine the feel of linear editing with the power of nonlinear, you’ll love the CommandPost. In our opinion, the shortcut buttons and jog/shuttle alone are worth the price.


TECH SPECS

Platform: Windows98, Windows 2000 or Mac OS

Minimum System Requirements:

Operating system: Windows98, Windows 2000 or Mac OS

Minimum of 10MB RAM to run the Command Post application (when setting up the unit), only 1MB RAM necessary during operation.

5MB Hard drive space.

STRENGTHS

  • Customizable keys
  • USB interface makes installation easy
  • Operates a wide range of applications

    WEAKNESSES

  • Plastic overlays and stickers look cheap
  • Click-and-drag is difficult with the joystick
  • Not enough blank overlay templates

    SUMMARY

  • An alternative to a keyboard and mouse for many common editing tasks. Fully customizable and programmable, with several key templates included.
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