So you've shot your video, finished that shoot, or wrapped up the recording session, and you're probably wondering, now what? Well, it’s time to begin post-production. Regardless of your chosen medium, owning the right gear will make the post-production process significantly faster and more efficient. The purpose of this guide is to help break down some popular and essential peripherals and make them work for you. As we dig into a few recommendations, we'll also look at some of the different categories of equipment that exist, because your needs can vary greatly depending on the type of content you are creating.
Keyboards and Other Controllers
Editing keyboards are designed to be used with major video-editing programs like Final Cut of Adobe Premiere or DaVinci Resolve. They're a smart investment for anyone working with those applications regularly and can save you quite a bit of time in the long run. Ideally, you want to find a keyboard with an ergonomic layout that suits you, and some even have dedicated keys that act as shortcuts or macros for use in application functions. One of the most popular keyboards for this type of work is the DaVinici Resolve Editor Keyboard, from Blackmagic Design. Note the dial on the keyboard, which acts as a search wheel that can make it possible to edit with both hands. For example, you can control the position in a clip with your right hand, while setting in and out points and applying edits with your left.
Another device popular among filmmakers is a color correction panel, or control surface, that allows you to use different color-grading options seamlessly and can provide quick access to several essential color-correction tools in programs like Resolve. Like the keyboards, control panels like these can control editing software more quickly and efficiently than a mouse and keyboard. Panels like the ones from Blackmagic or Tangent are popular and see a lot of use among professionals in the field. The BlackMagic Mini Panel for example, features two LCD screens that allow you to display menus or the specific parameters of the tool with which you're currently working. If you're working with a limited budget, consider the Wave2 from Tangent, which is a control surface compatible with video editing/color grading software and comes equipped with trackballs, rotation knobs, and buttons. Like the Mini Panel, it also has an integrated LCD display. There are both simpler and more complex panels, depending on your needs, but the goal is to speed up workflow substantially because the less you need to move between the panel and your keyboard, the faster your editing process will be.
If you don't need something quite as specialized for video editing but love the idea of shortcuts at your fingertips, consider a more generalized controller like the ShuttlePRO v2 from Contour Design, or even a TourBox. These devices offer quick access to several programmable buttons (or dials) and most work with major editing apps on Mac or Windows. In the same vein, regardless of the kind of content creator you are, tools like Elgato's Stream Deck or the Loupedeck can be invaluable. Both are consoles that can be used to assign commands for tons of applications. Finding the right one comes down to how many shortcuts you need, since the range can vary greatly. The Loupedeck, for example, is geared toward editing and design-based power users with a ton of features and keys, but a device like the Elgato Stream Deck + is more pared down, with 8 programmable square keys and 4 customizable dials. You'll find that many of these peripherals support several preconfigured profiles for commonly used functions like color grading, retouching, editing, and more. Customization and swapping between profiles will help fine-tune and make the most of accessories like these when you’re working in editing applications.
Having clean and crisp audio is important, regardless of the type of content you're editing. Even the best video can be bogged down by bad sound. Having a reliable pair of studio monitor headphones or speakers is essential for anyone working with that type of content. Finding the right audio equipment can help you dial-in your project―for example, if you're recording audio or mixing. There are a number of different kinds of studio monitor headphones for different scenarios just like this. A pair of closed-back studio monitoring headphones helps for tasks like recording audio while blocking out background noise and facilitating complete immersion. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a pretty iconic and universally loved closed-back pair of studio headphones that are easy to recommend in this category. Open-back headphones, on the other hand, are a great choice for mixing as opposed to recording as they allow you to still interact with the environment around you.
When it comes to finding speakers, not only should you be able to hear your sound mix accurately, but the right pair will help you understand what your audio will sound like in different environments, too. You'll also find that an important element of studio audio equipment is its very neutral sound profile. This can really make a difference when it comes to fine-tuning your audio mix because it ensures that vocals and instruments sound clear and accurate. Hearing your audio in detail means you can fix any inconsistencies―and that means when you inevitably use other systems to play it back, it'll still sound great.
Displays and Tablets
Although most people will probably do the bulk of their work on a monitor or laptop display, portable displays are great accessories for the designer on the go. They're easy to carry, deliver sharp visuals, and some portable displays are even better than some full desktop monitors. They can also double as a secondary display for your home setup if you need the extra desktop space. A display like the ZenScreen OLED MQ13AH from ASUS, which has 100% color coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut, is fantastic for photo editing. It's a surprisingly powerful and compact display that also has a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and two USB-C ports for connecting to other devices or displays—the key features that make a gaming monitor what it is. It also comes with a solid Smart Case, which doubles as kickstand.
Another type of peripheral often used by creative professionals is a drawing tablet. Illustrators or animators often use this kind of device when they require the precision of a stylus input. Tablets can even be useful for a variety of other creative work, such as for photographers who want to retouch their images with a higher degree of precision. Some tablets, like the Wacom Cintiq 22, even have their own screen built into the device to imitate the feel and precision of drawing directly onto a surface. Other creatives may prefer a stand-alone tablet like Apple's iPad Pro that doesn't need to be plugged into a computer. Depending on your setup, stand-alone tablets can also run double duty as a portable display. Regardless of your specific case use, tablets make great companion devices for post-production work.
Did we miss any peripherals that are a staple in your workflow? Have any profile recommendations for any of the controllers or keyboards mentioned above? Let us know your essentials in the Comments section, below.