Customize Your Hardware Interface with Palette's Modular Controls

PaletteFor the filmmakers that have become accustomed to creating and editing footage and music digitally, it might be a welcomed change to do your work utilizing knobs, sliders, and buttons instead of a mouse and keyboard in order to get the pinpoint accuracy you're looking for. However, if the thought of abandoning the systems you're used to scares you, no worries. Canada-based engineers Calvin Chu and Ashish Bidadi have designed Palette, freeform modular controllers that allow users to build and design their very own hardware interface and designate their software functions according to their workflow needs.

Palette can be utilized by a range of professionals, including DJs, music producers, sound engineers, and video editors. Coming in an assortment of knobs, sliders, and buttons, each module can be connected together, along with the Power Module, to design a unique interface called a "palette". Your palette can be a set of only a few modules, or can be an extensive and intricate station. Once you find a design that fits your needs, you then use the desktop app to assign module inputs to software functions.

This could come in handy for sound and video editors who use certain keyboard commands regularly, but want to get more hands-on with their work to make it more intentional. For example, scrubbing through footage, color correcting, or altering audio in any kind of precise way is a challenge if you're only using a mouse and keyboard. Palette could allow you some tactile control, which might help with accuracy.

Once connected to your computer, Palette recognizes installed software, and "automatically pulls functions that you can map to the modules." Eventually, support will be offered for a range of plug-ins, scripts, and third-party software. In fact, the team is working on offering Adobe Creative Suite support right out of the box.

They plan to release a software development kit (SDK) to allow hackers and developers to "contribute, build and release support for more third-party applications." Also, seeing as individual modules are so customizable, Palette has plans to add motorized faders, joysticks, jog-wheels, and custom buttons.

Palette is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000, which will go toward production. The rewards system works like other similar campaigns -- a pledge equals a preorder of a Palette kit, which come in different editions and packages:

An aluminum starter kit, which comes with one power module, button, dial, and slider is the least expensive at $99. The apprentice kit ($149) comes with an additional button and dial, and the professional kit ($399) comes with one power module, four buttons, five dials, and six sliders. The Wood Limited edition, though the module distribution is the same as the aluminum, will cost you a little bit more: apprentice kit ($239) and professional kit ($599).

Check out Palette's Kickstarter campaign for more information.

What do you think of Palette? Could you utilize the modules/software support they offer for your projects? Let us know in the comments.

Link: Palette campaign -- Kickstarter

[via TechCrunch]

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Your Comment


I was really interested in this and guess what it's not available and may never be available because it's another kickstarter feeder article, at least put in the first paragraph that it's kickstarter so people don't waste their time reading about something that doesn't exist.

November 28, 2013 at 4:14PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Filthy Punt

Hi, my name is Calvin and I'm one of the founders and engineers of Palette. I understand your doubt since a lot of Kickstarter projects flop and never deliver. That sucks.

However, Palette is quite different. We are a venture-backed company and we spent the past several months working in China to refine our design and prepare for manufacturing. We've been in the factories, visited suppliers and learned how it works over there. With this experience, we're confident in delivering. The units you see in the photos and video are real and we can't wait to start production to get it into your hands.

Please feel free to message me directly on our Kickstarter page (, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions. I hope that gives you a different perspective. Thanks a lot!

November 28, 2013 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Was just thinking the other day there's got to be a better way, of course an affordable way and this looks fantastic. I'll have my eyes out for this. All the best

November 28, 2013 at 7:03PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Anthony Marino

I funded this when I first saw it on Fast Co. I've been sharing it with a bunch of friends too. I really hope this gets funded. Props to these guys for putting together what clearly seems to be an awesome product, and also for running such a clear and warm Kickstarter campaign.

November 30, 2013 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


at least they have something great to contribute...

November 28, 2013 at 5:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


That was a very well made video!
Because NFS is a filmmaker site , it would be very nice to see how Palette could be use with Premiere or After Effect .
Other wise, great project!

November 28, 2013 at 6:37PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Looks really cool. I would recommend for a future module to add a ball module (like a thumb mouse) to target the color correction people. If they can tie in this product into Resolve and speedgrade they could have a really big winner. :) be keeping my eye on it.

November 28, 2013 at 7:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Ooooh, yes!

November 28, 2013 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Thanks David and Brian. We're seriously looking at this now. We're thinking of releasing a poll for everyone to vote on what the next module should be. Stay tuned on our page for project updates ( or follow Palette on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Thanks guys!

November 29, 2013 at 10:06AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM



Here's a product that got my attention!!

If they pull this off, I can definitely see how this could help out my workflow for both photo and film.

Good work boys!

November 28, 2013 at 10:47PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I'll second the suggestion that adding a track ball module would be ideal.
The first use-case that came to mind was for adjusting settings in color programs like Resolve. Both 1x1 and 4x4 cube sizes would be best. Also, a 2x1 piece with three or four smaller buttons would be pretty useful as well.
Add in support for Resolve and it'll be very popular with the enthusiast colorist crowd, I'm sure.

November 29, 2013 at 12:43AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Mr Blah

A colour correcting low budget control surface is what we're all after, well I am anyway.

November 29, 2013 at 1:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Add trackballs for grading and infinite turn knobs for a cheap way of controlling virtual audio-sliders without the cost of motorization of physical sliders and I'm sold! :)

Oh, and support for colorista color correction plugins would be nice too... :)

November 29, 2013 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Hi Johan,
I'm Calvin, founder and engineer at Palette. We are seriously looking at trackballs based on the recent demand we've gotten. The knobs on the current modules actually ARE infinite turn knobs. We are using rotary encoders with a smooth buttery, detent-free feeling. Sorry for being unclear about that. I know the knob caps in the photos may be misleading since they have an indicator mark on them.

November 29, 2013 at 10:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


That's really great they're making those (I especially like the slider), but there's the shuttlepro by contour that's pretty great, relatively inexpensive, and more ergonomic in terms of working fast in NLEs and after effects. The palette modules could work nicely in addition though.

November 30, 2013 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Stoked on this too. Physical tactile controllers are so much better for most things... And I wish Calvin and the others at Palette well...

But I too think kickstarter projects should be labelled as such in the headline or at the very least, 1st paragraph. I imagine nfs isn't, because fewer people will actually read the articles... I usually need to know about hints that are out, not things that are coming at some point, if the project gets funded.

December 5, 2013 at 3:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Daniel Mimura

"Things that are out..." stupid autocorrect.

December 6, 2013 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Daniel Mimura