Video editing is not exactly easy. You have to fiddle with cuts, colors and sound levels. And your keyboard isn’t always the best tool for that. Many control surfaces are targeted to the software that you’re using. Is there a better way to edit videos? Well, there is one more interesting controller on the market, called Palette Gear. It’s expandable, flexible, programmable and it looks really cool. If you’re willing to spend some time learning and programming it, it can make you a faster and better editor too.
Like with some other pretty cool products out there, Palette Gear started on Kickstarter. It did pretty well, earning about $150,000. But what’s more important than that, the company actually followed through and shipped it to buyers. It’s now a commercial product that you can buy and the company has consistently added more functionality. For video editors, Palette recently unveiled advanced integration with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Blackmagic Design makes very powerful control surfaces for its DaVinci Resolve video-editing software, but the cheapest — the Micro Panel — is $995. You can also go with the Behringer BCF-2000, a motorized $299 audio mixer that can be programmed for video. For the $300 price, Palette’s Expert Kit is ready to go and is one of the most, if not the most, cost-effective options.
The Palette Expert Kit comes complete with three dials, two sliders, two buttons and a central “brain” controller (pictured below) It’s not quite there when it comes to Photoshop integration, but it works well with Lightroom and Premiere. The system works like electronic Lego, snapping together magnetically and using pogo pins to link the modules. All are controlled by a central core brain that displays the current profile on a nifty LCD screen and attaches to your computer (Mac or PC) via a USB cable. Modules include a button, dial, and slider, and you can chain together as many as you want, adding more modules at $50 each.
There is a “better” version – the Professional Kit – which will cost you $500. It has six dials, four sliders, and four buttons. There’s also a starter kit with two buttons, a slider and a dial, which is priced at $200. All-in-all, these kits are very well priced, considering the functionality you are getting. Palette is set up with a number of “Quick Start” profiles based on your kit: Edit Starter, Professional, and Expert, along with Grade, Vignette and Motion. It requires Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.3 or later. Once you launch Premiere Pro CC, you need to make sure that the Palette controller is enabled in the preferences.
Programming your own style is essential to making Palette useful. Every editor has his or her own workflow, so you have to figure out whether to use the keyboard, mouse or Palette for specific functions to be as efficient, precise or speedy as possible.
The Palette Gear’s other main Premiere profile, Motion, is also dramatically better than just using the keyboard and mouse. That’s because Premiere’s interface for Motion is pretty crappy, requiring lots of fiddling with the mouse. Using Palette, you can adjust X and Y position, along with scaling, and then easily set a keyframe.
As for downsides? Professionals will find the hardware a bit cheap, but it’s actually not bad for a consumer-level product, and comparable to the Loupedeck. The company needs to do something about the sliders, though, and either add a reset clicking option or motorization. Overall, the Palette Gear Expert Kit will make you a better editor and it will make Premiere Pro CC a lot more fun. Especially with color correction. The fact that it’s programmable, it works with different apps and can be snapped together in whatever configuration you want makes it an extremely powerful tool. Don’t expect it to do everything you want out of the box – you will have to put in some time to learn and program it.