In my post on gestural interfaces I bade software designers to get their interfaces out from in between us and our work. One way to do this is with a custom UI that lives in the physical world.
Color grading for film and video is an area where a tactile user interface enables an artist to do more, faster. A colorist might grade a feature film in only a few weeks, performing many hundreds of creative decisions per hour. With Apple Color now in the playing field with lower-cost grading solutions like SpeedGrade and Scratch, there is a great interest in the control surfaces that make this possible. But not enough interest to bring the cost of these physical interfaces as far down as the software prices have dropped.
But there is hope. Apple's new MacBook Air brings some new multitouch gestures to OS X. We alreday use the trackpad as a kind of virtual control surface in Magic Bullet Looks, and it's easy to imagine using the new gestures to increase this power (once they come to more full-featured laptops of course).
But the first time you rotate a photo in Preview.app on a MacBook Air, you can't help but wonder how amazing it would be if that trackpad was a bit bigger and was a screen itself.
Fortunately there are people who've been working on exactly that. JazzMutant has two shipping products, Lemur and Dexter (the difference between which eludes me) that allow innovative multitouch control of Digital Audio Workstations. Art Lebedev Studios is showing a concept for a keyless keyboard that can be reconfigured as whatever multitouch UI you can imagine.
The Lemur and Dexter are each about US$3K, which might seem like a lot, but consider this. The "good" control surfaces for Color cost over US$15K, with the cheap alternative running about $US8K. These are big, single-purpose devices, whereas a multitouch display can be your color control surface today and an audio mixing board tomorrow.
Still, in a world where color correction software that once cost US$25K is now a free toy surprise inside a box of crackerjacks, the solution should be clear: clever software that takes advantage of UI devices that are inexpensive because they're not purpose-built for our niche. In other words, by the time a multitouch accessory becomes so inexpensive that you can't afford not to have it, it may well be a default shipping option on an iMac.
Either way, I hope Apple's Color team, as well as developers at Iridas, Assimilate, Adobe and Autodesk are looking at these new interfaces and thinking of ways to let us cut, color and combine our movies with them.
Now with iTunes 7.6, thanks I guess to the screen real estate taken up by the new rented movies option (which I don't plan on using), I get to administer my very long list of self-added iPhone movies with an infuriating little four-line scrolling porthole...
...regardless of how big I make iTunes on my 30" Cinema Display.
Lloyd Alvarez has just released a super handy DV Rebel tool called Magnum—The Edit Detector. It's a script for After Effects CS3 that automatically finds edits in a layer by analyzing the imagery. It then either marks the edits with layer markers or slices the layer at the cut points.
The latter of course is a perfect first step to a DV Rebel grading workflow. Now you can easily get your cut into After Effects without worrying about EDLs or XML or whatever.
This process is known as "scene detection" in high-end grading systems, and now you've got in in After Effects. And it's free-as-in-beer. As in, Lloyd, I owe you one.