If you want to control Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro, or any other application that can be controlled with a jog wheel, you’ll need to buy a controller like the Tangent Wave control surface or even a Contour Design Shuttle Pro/Express. The former is expensive and only viable if you’re a professional, while the latter doesn’t allow for smooth shuttling. Owners of an iPad, however, are in luck: CTRL+Console is an iPad/Mac solution that lets your iPad work as a controller surface for applications running on your Mac.
CTRL+Console is an iPad app that currently has five control surfaces and one in the making. Right now, you can use the iPad with CTRL+Console to control QuickTime Player (free), Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. There’s also an editing control surface module for Premiere Pro as well as for Final Cut Pro X.
The difference between the controller and the control surface modules is that the controller only lets you play, shuttle and play fast forward/backward. The editing controls also let you change tools, cut, insert, etc, etc, from the iPad. The app looks like a Shuttle Pro on steroids — it has a very nice design that is not just great to look at but also ergonomically clever.
For example, I didn’t need to keep an eye on the controls all the time when I wanted to edit in Final Cut Pro X. All of the controls are in an almost intuitive location. When you’re using the editing surface for the first time, you will need some learning where everything is, but even then the buttons are clearly and logically grouped.
The performance of the shuttle, variable speed forward/backward and other controls is stunning and unlike with a Contour Design Shuttle Pro, you don’t need to first click in the timeline panel before you can get the footage to move. There’s no lag due to WiFi or whatever else there is that could cause commands not to be executed immediately.
The Mac app doesn’t eat your memory either. It sits quiet and does its job without any noticeable interference at all.
And CTRL+Console has yet another trick up its sleeve that you can’t have in any hardware-based controller surface: gesture support. You can swipe and drag without having to use the on-screen controls at all.
Now, I’m an idiot when it comes to swiping and dragging with my fingers. I always tend to keep them in a wrong position — at least I can make it rarely work at all. With CTRL+Console I didn’t fair any better. I couldn’t do much beyond the occasional successful jog or creation of an In/Out mark. For me, the control surface is what makes this app really worthwhile, but for others the ability to swipe and drag will be an extra appeal.
CTRL+Console is in my opinion a very viable alternative for an expensive control surface or a halfhearted approach like the Shuttle Pro. It works great, and it is modular so you can actually buy the one controller/editing surface you need for a small fee. It supports gestures for those who like to work that way. CTRL+Console costs €4.99 for a NLE controller and €29.99 for the editor.