Being a master of keyboard shortcuts isn’t just a party trick to impress friends and clients, it’s a path to a faster and more efficient editing process which makes you more of an asset as a video editor. Whether you’re hoping to earn a Pro Certificate or just become faster in post, one way to get you there sooner is to invest in a dedicated keyboard.
Editors Keys started in 2005 making stickers for keyboards that helped users recall shortcuts for software like Pro Tools, Photoshop, and more. Since then, the company has expanded into making full keyboards and even USB mics. I’ve used their stickers on past NLE systems at various other offices, but recently was offered the chance to review their backlit keyboard for Adobe Premiere (Mac).
So why would anyone want a keyboard that’s covered in software shortcuts? And does this keyboard make the cut (pun intended!)? I think there are a few valid reasons editors should check this out.
Switching From Another Program
I learned how to edit in Final Cut Pro, from the first version to the last, and when Final Cut X came out, I knew that I’d be switching to something else. I successfully made the transition to Adobe Premiere, and have been editing with it for the last five years, but there are still a few FCP shortcuts that have been hard-wired into my brain that I still catch myself trying to use.
With this keyboard I’ve been able to quickly recall those few nagging shortcuts, and I’ve started to expand on what I typically use to include some others.
With three brightness settings (or just turning it off) you can adjust the backlight intensity as needed. In a dark editing suite, this proved helpful for the times when I needed to glance down quickly, especially since my keyboard shelf sits underneath my main desk where it's even harder to see.
Feel and Function
The keyboard feel reminds me very much of the current Apple Keyboard, with low-profile keys that have a crisp action to them. The top row includes 17 function keys so you can use them as their standard function, or go crazy and customize them using a program like Karabiner.
Physically, there are small feet to raise the angle ever so slightly, otherwise it will lie flat. The USB cable is plenty long, but unfortunately there are no additional USB ports to connect peripherals.
The shortcuts for snapping and slip edits in particular have always eluded me, as I don't use them too often but often enough to notice that I mess up the shortcut on occasion. Not anymore! And I've started using the Shift + number keys to select different project windows to quickly jump from screen to screen.
For writing in general, I ran a free typing speed test and discovered that with my stock laptop keyboard, I had a WPM of 55 and an 85 percent accuracy. Using the Editors Keys keyboard, I scored slightly higher, with a WPM of 57 and 88 percent accuracy. Not the most scientific, I know, but proves to me that at least I'm comfortable enough using it to be not losing any speed, and possibly gaining some, even after only a week of use.
What I Liked
- Learning more shortcuts, faster.
- The backlight looks great and does its job.
- Keyboard action is snappy.
What Could Be Improved
- Having 1-2 USB ports would be ideal.
It’s a keyboard covered in shortcuts that has a backlight feature, and it does its job. Now that I've used this, I can't imagine wanting to go back. Basically, if you have an external keyboard already for your laptop that you are happy with, you could simply get the stickers. If you want to upgrade your keyboard or add an external one to your laptop, then consider the backlit option shown here. They have options with and without backlights, layouts for Windows users, and software shortcut keyboards for Avid, Resolve, and even Photoshop just to name a few, so be sure you're looking at the correct keyboard if you go to their website to place an order.
Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.
More from Mike Wilkinson
- Explaining the Difference Between Parfocal and Varifocal Lenses, and Why Filmmakers Should Care
- Using VFX to Create Macro Shots and Speed Ramps with Drone Video
- Three Alternative Drone Shots to Add a New Dimension to Your Aerial Videos