Our friends at Editors Keys sell a range of software-specific shortcut keyboards and keyboard overlays for popular pro audio and video applications. During one of my occasional bouts of what I’ll describe as “twitchy wallet’ - that desire that all techy studio types get to buy something, it occurred to me that I don’t have a shortcut keyboard. That made me consider why that is.
I Already Know The Shortcuts in Pro Tools
The short answer would be that I already know the shortcuts in Pro Tools. I’m not saying I know all of them but I know a lot and certainly everything on a Pro Tools Shortcuts keyboard that is of use to me, I already know.
Not All Shortcuts Are On A Shortcuts Keyboard
Of course Pro Tools keyboards only show the single stroke keyboard shortcuts i.e. Command Focus shortcuts - Essential shortcuts, but not the whole story. You need to know the command focus keystrokes but there are lots of others, and combination keystrokes can’t be easily be represented on a keyboard.
I’ve Had A Pro Tools Shortcuts Keyboard In The Past
To say I don’t have a Pro Tools Keyboard isn’t the whole story. I spent several years with my main teaching studio being equipped with a D Control. As this worksurface has an integral shortcut keyboard I spent many years with one by default and it was this which encouraged me to switch to teaching command focus shortcuts to novice users - for example previously I had taught CMD+E instead of B for separate at selection or CMD+square brackets instead of R and T for zoom. The reasoning was that these always work so if, for example, keyboard focus is in groups or the clips list, you don’t lose your shortcuts. With Command Focus shortcuts so prominently on display in the studio I decided to reconsider.
So I Don’t Need A Pro Tools Keyboard, Maybe I Need A Different Keyboard?
In my case, as a longtime user of Pro Tools, there isn’t really a tangible benefit to me having a shortcut keyboard. But I would make a couple of points about this argument
I don’t need a Pro Tools keyboard but it doesn’t follow that you don’t. I’ve already benefitted from years of having a Pro Tools keyboard and if it hadn’t been attached to a D Control which didn’t belong to me I’d probably still have it. If you don’t know the command focus keyboard shortcuts then get a Pro Tools keyboard! You'll learn them through absorption, never stopping to look them up, they are right there.
I’ve learnt useful shortcuts I didn’t previously know though having a keyboard in front of me. The problem with looking up a shortcut is that you are dealing with a “known unknown” - You know the shortcut exists, you just don’t know what it is. I’ve discovered features of Pro Tools I didn’t previously know about by finding them on a Pro Tools keyboard. A good example would be auditioning pre and post roll by hitting 6 or 9. I didn’t know you could do that until I saw “play to edit start” and wondered what it did.
Final Cut Pro X Keyboard
So my conclusion is that I’d be better off with a Final Cut Pro keyboard as I don’t yet know that very well at all. I use FCP X as a tool to get a job done, I’m not interested in it in the same way as I am in Pro Tools and learning useful keyboard shortcuts while working as opposed to instead of working is a very attractive proposition.
Do you have a shortcuts keyboard? Do you use a keyboard cover? Has it helped you learn the software more quickly? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.