ProCutX (opens in new tab) turns your iPad into a companion controller for Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video editor, providing a screen of buttons for accessing many of the application’s most useful tools. It saves you having to memorise keyboard shortcuts and locations in the menu bar.
Controls are grouped by task. A dial that moves the playhead sits at the centre; your finger doesn’t have to precisely track its edge, just orbit the centre. Forget about quickly scrubbing a second or so in either direction, though - the maximum rate of advancement is similar to holding the left or right arrow keys on your keyboard.
That’s because ProCutX depends on a companion app installed on the Mac, which relays commands from the iPad by pretending to be an attached keyboard (though really, it’s just connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac). Motioning around the dial at least lets you slow down the rate of advancement to land on a precise frame without repeatedly tapping an arrow key on your keyboard.
At the bottom-left are the basic editing tools, which might seem the most redundant thing to duplicate given their keyboard shortcuts are single letter keys. However, they’re useful if you normally access them through the pop-up in Final Cut’s toolbar because the iconography matches what’s shown there, and all are visible at once, instead of having to click twice.
Other buttons also indicate their purpose with graphics, but many are labelled with words and numbers. Even with large labels indicating each control group’s purpose, the use of text means it takes longer to memorise positions within a group.
It’s frustrating that you can’t feel which button within a group you’re about to press, but that’s out of ProCutX’s control (given the lack of tactile feedback from the iPad’s screen). Once you’ve learned the overall layout, muscle memory begins to lead you partway to tools, though we found we still had to glance down to be sure we were pressing the right button.
Sadly, an opportunity is missed to use gestures to control certain features. A quick two-finger swipe left or right might have been interpreted as wanting to undo or redo an action; instead, you have to hit a button precisely. Is it any better than using a standard keyboard shortcut to do the same? Similarly, zooming in or out on the timeline requires repeated taps – surely tracking the distance of a pinch gesture could have been an intuitive alternative?
The colour grading tools present another hurdle. The small eight- way button you press to make adjustments is the same size as most other controls, but while you can observe the response in Final Cut, you still need to look down when changing direction to make sure your finger has moved to the correct part of the button.
Despite this, ProCutX does the job – on the condition that you’re happy to tolerate shifting your eyes off your Mac to the iPad’s screen for moments at a time.
You'll find this review, and many more, in Tap! Magazine issue 28.
- Works with: iPad
- Universal: No
- Version: 1.1
- App size: 9.1MB
- Developer: Lightwork Solutions Inc
- Age rating: 4+