Today Apple announced the iPad, and what I like most about what we’ve seen so far is that Apple clearly thinks it’s important that we be able to make things with it. The redesigned iWork apps are impressive experiments in creating stuff using a multitouch display. I liked my iPhone enough when it was just a phone, but I love it now that I have Storyboard Composer (formerly Hitchcock), Screenplay, and Photoshop Mobile, to name just a few.
I also use an app called Air Mouse to control the Mac Mini in my home theater. That, and the many other apps that allow your iPhone or iPod Touch to act as control device for your computer, made me ponder the possibility of using the iPhone’s multitouch screen as a control surface for Magic Bullet Looks. But I never took the idea very far because of the small size of the screen.
Folks doing color correction either know first-hand the value of a dedicated control surface, or avoid finding out for fear of the can’t-live-without-it sensation. An understandable fear, given the cost of these peripherals. Back in 2008 when I wrote about gestural interfaces and hardware devices, I expected to spend a couple grand at the very least for any kind of multitouch control device. Video pros routinely spend much, much more for large, cumbersome, single-purpose color control surfaces. Read any review of them and you’ll see one common thread: once you work a three-way color corrector with a set of trackballs that allow you to adjust multiple parameters at once, you never want to go back.
Imagine the dude above is looking at a stripped-down version of the Magic Bullet Looks interface on his main display. The Tool Chain, Preset and Tool Drawers, and touch-friendly Tool Controls appear on his iPad.
The iPad may seem expensive to people with a laptop, a smartphone, and little room in their life for something in between, but for video and film professionals looking for a general-purpose way to get more touchy-feely with their creations, it’s beyond a bargain.
As long as the software shows up.
So what do you think? Is the image above something that interests you? It’s just a hasty concept—nothing more. But it’s got me thinking about all kinds of ways that an iPad could become a part of the way we make films—not just with dedicated apps, but with companion apps that give us new ways of interacting with our favorite desktop tools.