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Today I want to talk about the ergonomics of editing. Particularly the use of shuttle and jog wheels. However first a side note.



A Side Note:

As you may know I am currently renovating the studio. We are having some new plumbing put in and this seemed an ideal moment to replace the flooring and get the desk out for a general overhaul.

The intent is to add new lighting and finally finish the trim on some of the absorber walls...which is one of those tasks that I never seem to get done. In fact I was talking to an Italian studio designer the other day and he said to me 'of course as you know, no studio ever gets finished completely'. Anyway at the moment as you can see from the video I have been relegated to my dining room to do some editing. So I have made sure my monitor is elevated to eye level and that I am looking directly at it and can keep my back and neck straight.

Just a little point but the amount of pain and discomfort that can be caused by monitors in awkward positions is often underrated. Right now onto the main thrust of the blog; the shuttle or jog wheel.


Back To The Thrust:

I was introduced to the wonders of the shuttle wheel in the late 90s, when I was learning to video edit. The general U-matic, or S-VHS video editing systems I was working on had two source decks and a record deck. A shuttle/jog wheel on the controller system would allow precise positioning of timecode striped tape and the setting of in and out points for each tape. Because of the helical scan operation of video tape (that's something for another blog) it is not really possible to splice video tape like you might with audio tape. So the process of editing had to be one of re-recording the video to a third tape. The shuttle wheel controller was the perfect tool for setting the parameters of these chunks of video. I did actually also use a mouse based system affectionately known as Mikey, but the mouse was really not the ideal tool for this process.


Just as the mouse was not the ideal tool for video tape editing systems it can often be a tool that is not best suited to audio editing. About 10 or 12 years ago my centrepiece of my studio was a digital desk recessed flat into custom studio furniture. It was a great system as I could mix in-the-box or out the box and utilise a nice array of digital processing without putting too much strain on my computer. Let's remember that ITB mixing was still fairly new at this point. Especially if you didn't have a Pro Tools TDM or HD system (I forget if HD had been released at that point). Anyway the mixer was great but lacked a Jog/Shuttle wheel. The internal transport was fine if not a little clunky. So I decided to get a small Jog wheel that could be recessed into the console furniture. There were a few versions on offer but I opted for the Contour Shuttle XPress due to its super low profile. So now I have a big boy's toy (my large Amek TAC Matchless), my shuttle wheel hovers generally around the producer's desk area where I have a second monitor screen for general plugin close ups during mixing and access to my studio server machine. What does it do? Well I have the shuttle rigged to operate slightly differently for each different program that is in use and the parameters change to reflect the window that is currently active.


Mixbus Profile

As you probably all know I have a signature bundle available from Harrison Mixbus (see, it's what I use from day to day for my professional work. And let's just clarify this I have all the major DAWs so I can open any kind of project that comes into the studio...but I choose Mixbus. Anyway as I was saying there was not a shuttle profile for Mixbus so I took this opportunity to create a custom profile that you can all download from the blog...just sign up on the left hand sidebar and when you sign in to the site you will see a downloads link. The profile will be there for you.If you can't see that here is the direct link.

So what does the wheel do in Mixbus?

Well I have set the shuttle wheel and jog to move the playback head so you can quickly skim through tracks. There are 5 buttons on the XPress and more on the larger models. I have set buttons for Play/Stop, Fast Forward,Transition to Rewind and buttons for Range and Grab modes. These are the tools that I use most in Editing but i am currently working on a second “Deep Editing” profile that will allow splitting and so on. So does it make your workflow faster? Well yes, it does for me. Mixbus is a DAW based around an ethos of one knob per function with as many parameters being visible at a glance as possible. Having extra keys and a specific tool for playhead position not only speeds up my workflow but adds a nice level of variation into the ergonomics of a session. That can be a good thing to help reduce the risks of RSI and related injuries.



STAY ERGONOMIC - Happy Recordng folks

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