Color Correction Ergonomics – Working Faster and Comfortably

April 30, 2016

If you're looking to improve your color correction ergonomics for your editing or color correction suite - this post has some ideas for you.


Series

Patrick Continues Experimenting with Peripherals

If you own a big DaVinci Resolve Colorist Control Surface (like the one pictured below), when it comes to color correction ergonomics – 80% of choices are already made for you. Even the keyboard is built into the Resolve surface. After purchasing this piece of gear (for $30,000), your main ergonomic choices are how high to set the desktop, where to place your displays and the proper color of your walls.

Patrick working on a DaVinci Resolve Colorist Control Surface
Patrick working on a DaVinci Resolve Colorist Control Surface

But if you’ve got a more modest setup, like the day-to-day arrangement I’m using now—with a Tangent Element, as you’ll see in this video—you’ve got a ton more choices to make.

A recent podcast had me re-making my room, for better ergonomics.

In a Fitness In Post podcast about the proper ergonomics for an edit suite, a couple of suggestions grabbed my attention. I decided to implement some changes to my room and so far, the results are promising.

I’ve been suffering from shoulder pain the last few months

Diet changes definitely helped reduce inflammation but my left shoulder still keeps me up at night. The Fitness In Post podcast helped me realize my desk setup wasn’t helping the situation and I decided to change some key components:

  • I ditched the large Wacom tablet: It took up too much space on the desk. Also – I’m finding most post-production software isn’t optimized for pen inputs, and I was fighting the tablet as much as I liked it.
  • I ditched the full-sized keyboard: For 25+ years I’ve been using keyboards with numeric inputs. When I was editing full-time, it was a necessity (I did lots of timecode inputting and frame trimming from the keyboard). As a full-time colorist? Not so much. As you’ll see in the video, by going with a smaller keyboard – it’s really helped me reduce my desktop footprint and keep my arms in a much more natural position.
  • I added a gaming keypad (as a replacement to the X-Keys): We’ve had several Insights about how adding an X-Keys (or similar) keypad can really boost your speed and productivity. I wanted to try a gaming keypad (which includes a wrist-pad and thumb controls) to see if I could notch up my efficiency.
  • I replaced the Wacom with a vertical mouse: As you’ll see in the video, this one change alone has practically eradicated the carpal tunnel I’d get in my right wrist. For me, this vertical mouse style was a stunning revelation.
  • I changed the orientation of the Tangent Element: I’ve never been happy with its downward slope of that panel and I found plastic feet that seem to fix the problem for me. But I’ll need a few weeks to decide if I want to run with the Tangent full-time in this new position.
In this Insight, we dig into the details of the how and why of these changes.

It’s too soon for me to offer up any definitive conclusions about what I do or do not like (though I *really* like my initial efforts with the gaming keypad), but I’ll be doing a follow-up or two. I plan on testing the Logitech G13 keypad device, based on Mixing Light member comments. I’ll be comparing specifically to the Razer Orbweaver you see me demo in this video.

-pi

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Comments

14 thoughts on “Color Correction Ergonomics – Working Faster and Comfortably”

  1. Doh, I’ve had carpal tunnel in both hands from decades of pounding color-correction surfaces (relieved by surgery). Some good tips here, Pat. The two biggest tips I have: 1) lower the desk so that your wrists aren’t at a sharp angle, and 2) take a break every so often. We get so focused on the work, 8, 9, 10 hours go by when we’re just staring at the monitor. Tough to do when deadlines loom.

  2. Great Insight. I’ll definitely give a try to the vertical mouse (side note: 19.99$ in the US… 64€ here in France!).

    Back in my Lightroom days, I had bought a Contour ShuttlePro V2 (http://amzn.to/1W0kaZc). Initially, the key commands program that ships with the controller wasn’t able to recognize Resolve (it was due to BlackMagic ‘blocking’ any other hardware manufacturer than those officially supported in Resolve). Those days are gone, and now the Shuttle program is able to manage a full key commands set for Resolve.

    I own a Tangent Wave control panel, which also has a lot of desktop footprint. Sometimes for quick Resolve sessions I’m only working with my Shuttle. Below is the mapping I’ve set with time: only 15 buttons & a wheel, but I’m a lot faster with this. 😉

  3. Some great ideas. I’m constantly fiddling with the setup on my home system (I have the Avid Artist Color and Transport), and lately I too have given my Wacom tablet a rest. I’ve used a Kensington Expert Mouse for years, and I’ve been fortunate to so far to have no wrist or hand pain.

    Workstation ergonomics on my freelance gigs are highly variable. Usually I work with whatever mouse they have, but if I’m working on an extended job I’ll bring my Wacom or my Kensington Expert Mouse. I always bring my wrist rest.

  4. Patrick, I’m certain that your monitors are way too low compared to your eye level. Eye level should be lined with the top of your monitor.

  5. For cursor movements, I map uncommon key combos to the macro keys and use Keyboard Maestro with hotkey triggers.

    Cmd+Shift+Opt+Ctrl+(F1 … F12). Then remove Opt and map all the F keys for that, etc.

  6. Patrick … or should I say, Π ?

    Been a bit over five months … would love a re-visit. How’s the Razor, the smaller keypad, and such working? Have you moved your monitors as discussed in this thread also?

    1. Loving the Razor. I think in the next month or so I’ll buy the alternative to the Razor which has a built-in display that tells you what each button does (so if I forget I don’t have to keep pulling out my notes).

      RE: Monitors – No, I haven’t changed those yet. I’m going to make some big changes to my suite at the start of next year and the level of UI displays don’t bother me. The reference display is the proper height and since that’s what I spend most of my time looking at, I’m okay for now.

  7. Patrick, I would love to see the associated download files for the Razor layout. Where can I download your PDF and Resolve 12.5 keyboard maps? Thank you.

  8. Would be interested to hear if you’re still liking the flattened out Elements panel. I’ve done a quick test by lifting my panels onto the edge of my keyboard and it feels very comfortable. I found some much cheaper little rubber feet on aliexpress so you can like 12 feet for a tenth of the price of those Bluelounge kits and make the thing really sturdy. I might also think about using some adhesive to keep them in place rather than relying on suction.

    We got hooked on the trackball mouse early on, which gives a bit of a more vertical feel but doesn’t require any space to move the mouse around. all cursor movement is done with the thumb which is decent. I use a wacom medium but might pick up one of the smaller intuos small without the expresskeys. way smaller footprint and still more than usable for one GUI monitor.

    Definitely agree on the smaller keyboard, and for our windows machine I’m looking into a decent compact mechanical keyboard, but one that still has comfortable arrow keys and the pgup/pgdown keys in place. I really don’t want to go wireless because there’s nothing worse than sitting down and having to deal with batteries/usb interference/drivers. We’ve drilled small cable holes in our desk to get rid of the visual cable clutter of the keyboard/elements anyways.

    —–

    Rubber Feet: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/12pcs-lot-25x20x15mm-Black-Rubber-Table-Chair-Feet-Pads-Tile-Floor-Protector/32603132472.html

    Keyboard: https://www.amazon.com/Primacc-Mechanical-Anti-ghosting-Water-Resistant-Keyboards/dp/B01KFU7EP8/ref=sr_1_40?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1495993723&sr=1-40&keywords=compact+mechanical+keyboard&refinements=p_36%3A-10000%2Cp_72%3A1248879011

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