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The Case For Three-Button Mouse Editing

RzrNaga2012_view3Mouse-driven editing has usually been associated with the lower end of video editing, and to a certain extent justifiably so. If I see a person using only his or her mouse to edit, I don’t consider them very seriously. Editing is a tough job, and a human being has two hands, so why not put both of them to work? Put that left hand on the keyboard right now!

The question of whether the right hand should spend more time there as well or not is debatable. Even though I have been driven through CS6 mixed bag of innovations to make more extensive use of my touch-typing skills during editing, I am still looking to improve on the mouse side of things, because the hybrid mouse + keyboard editing has been historically the fastest way to use Premiere.

When it comes to mouse mastery, nothing can beat 3D artists, especially modellers. The necessity to constantly change the point of view in three dimensions clearly showed that not only a single mouse button is not enough, but that even two will not suffice. You need a 3-button mouse to work in a 3D application. Period.

Granted, using the middle button with most mice is something that requires a bit of practice, since often it entails pushing on the scroll wheel. However, the newly acquired skill gives you more flexibility, and options. Why then not use a 3-button mouse in editing? And why not take advantage of the fact, that pushing the middle button is not as easy, as pushing the other ones?

One thing that I found myself using a lot during mouse-driven editing was delete and ripple delete. Even after remapping my keyboard, it still remained a two-click process. First select the clip, then hit delete. Fortunately you can use both hands, but still, there is some space for optimization here. The middle mouse button could be used to perform a single click ripple delete.

Another idea for middle mouse button is to map it to “Deselect all”, and it might become pretty handy with the incoming CS Next confusion about the primacy of selection over playhead, or targeted tracks for example during applying transitions.

Both of these options are available now via many macro recording and automation pieces of software. Personally I use the ones that came with my mice – either Microsoft’s IntelliMouse or Razer Synapse. They both allow remapping the middle mouse click for certain applications to a macro or a shortcut key (and much more, if you wish to explore them further). Therefore I first make sure to create the keyboard shortcuts to “Ripple Delete” or “Deselect All”, and then to map these shortcuts to the middle mouse button. And voila! Single click ripple delete or deselect all are literally at your fingertips now.

The quest for ever more efficient editing continues, and I hope to have some exciting information for you soon.

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5 Responses to The Case For Three-Button Mouse Editing

  1. Pierre Louis Beranek says:

    Hi Bart,

    Excellent point! It’s so refreshing to see someone think and speak up with reason instead of just rant or stay quietly complacent! I’ll definitely find a way to use my mouse’s middle button after reading your post!

    Please take a look at this Adobe forum post I made for an idea of something else you could comment on your blog:

    And there’s also this, what I consider to be Premiere Pro’s biggest shortcoming (lack of comprehensive organizational tools): I’m confident that an intelligent thinker like yourself will see the value in the suggestions. If you could help push this into reality with a post on your blog, I, and so many other editors, would be eternally grateful! 😉

    Thanks again for your great blog!

  2. BartW says:

    Hi Pierre,

    Thanks. I browsed through the threads you mentioned. Slipping clips without keyframes is a great FR, and I’m going to submit it as well.

    I totally get it about the keywords and FCPX. I used to argue that Premiere has the same metadata capabilities, but the truth is it doesn’t. What FCPX got right (and a few other interesting improvements as well, but it’s another matter altogether) is the ability to select ranges and quickly add keywords/smart bins to these ranges. And have multiple ranges in a single clip. There is nothing like this in Premiere, and like you I wish there were.

    I use labels extensively to similar effect – adding keyboard shortcuts, but it’s still two-three step process.

    I’m not certain I agree about the touch surfaces, but I get the point about them being complementary to mouse and keyboard much more than I get them being a replacement. Actually, this IS pretty brilliant idea in itself.

    I am toying with an idea to give you an author account on this blog, and allow you to express your point of view fully by yourself, seeing that you come from the similar perspective. What do you think?

    • Pierre Louis Beranek says:

      Hi Bart,

      Sure, I would love to contribute to your blog! Thank you for the consideration.

      Yes, FCPX got it right with its keywords/smart bins, but Premiere Pro could do it even better!

      I just got some new ideas for how to improve my FR on the Adobe forum: AUTO-TAGGING BINS with user assignable SHORTCUTS.

      Where this would improve on Apple’s approach is in flexibility and visual intuitiveness:
      1. Creating an auto-tagging Bin could be as simple as adding a special character such as ‘#’ in front of its title. So for example, renaming a Bin from ‘Interviews’ to ‘#Interviews’ would automatically add the tag ‘Interviews’ to the metadata of all clips within it. Users could even add several auto-tags to a single Bin. For example, by naming a Bin ‘University #Interviews #Staff’, any clips added to that bin would automatically inherit the searchable metadata tags ‘Interview’ and ‘Staff’, but not ‘University’ since it doesn’t have the ‘#’ symbol added in front of it.

      2. Contrary to FCPX’s approach, my approach would also allow Bin/Sub Bin hierarchies. Imagine the following Bin structure: A parent Bin named ‘Interviews’ containing 3 sub-Bins named ‘Staff’, ‘Students’ and ‘Soundbites’. Adding an auto-tag to the parent Bin, (i.e. changing the name to ‘#Interviews’) would automatically propagate that tag to the contents of all sub-Bins! The organizational power of this would be amazing!

      3. At any time, a user could remove metadata tags from clips simply by dragging the clips out of an auto-tagging Bin, or by removing the auto-tag from the Bin itself.

      4. Any number of Bins, whether enabled for auto-tagging or not, could be given keyboard shortcuts. Doing so could be as simple as selecting a new ‘Assign shortcut’ option from the Bin’s context menu, which would automatically bring up the ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ window, with a new ‘Bins’ root folder twirled open and ready for use (in addition to the current root folders: ‘Application’, ‘Panels’ and ‘Tools’). For easy visual reference, this ‘Bins’ root folder would automatically be populated with the names of every Project Window Bin, in their current hierarchy. So, using the previous example, the Bin ‘Interviews’ would have a twirly arrow to twirl down/up its sub-Bins ‘Staff’, ‘Students’ and ‘Soundbites’.

      5. Any time a user adds a shortcut to a bin, that shortcut would appear at the end of the Bin’s name (e.g. adding the shortcut ‘2’ to the Bin ‘Interviews’ would result in the Bin’s name appearing like this: ‘Interviews {2}’). Thus users would always have a quick visual reference for remembering shortcuts.

      6. These options would give users 4 great ways to add clips/sub-clips to Bins for sorting and/or auto-tagging: 1. Use a Bin’s shortcut to send a clip’s in/out range from the Source Monitor to the Bin. 2. Use a Bin’s shortcut to create sub-clips of 1 or more selected clips in the Timeline (something you can’t do in FCPX!) 3. Drag&drop a clip’s in/out range from the Source Monitor to a Bin. 4. Drag&drop 1 or more clips from the Timeline to automatically create subclips that inherit any present auto-tags.

      Hopefully all of this is clear. With the addition of these features, I don’t see any reasons left for anyone to choose FCPX over Premiere (except perhaps for its greater availability of plug-ins, but given Premiere’s fast growing popularity, that’s going to change).

      Something like this could definitely use a formal Blog post, complete with illustrations to help explain the concepts. What do you think?

      All the best!

      • Evil Edison says:

        I highly recommend the Cyborg RAT mouse. Several programmable buttons and it just looks bad ass.

  3. pribilinskiy says:

    Yeah, with a DataHand Keyboard or a Peregrine Glove 😉

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