September 17, 2014

Avatron's 'Air Display' Uses Tablets to Add Some Computer Screen Real Estate

avatron air display for filmmakers
You can never have enough on-screen real estate.

Whether you're editing and monitoring in your NLE of choice, fine-tuning elaborate sets of keyframes for motion graphics, or working on multiple pre-production documents and breakdowns, having the most screen space possible isn't just convenient, it's essential to your workflow. Luckily we live in the age of such screen tech as cinema displays, but we shouldn't forget cheaper options that can give us more mileage out of our other screen devices. Enter Avatron's Air Display, an app that allows you to use your Android or iOS smart phone, tablet, or even another Mac or PC computer, as an extension of your screen. Check out this interview from MacWorld 2014 of Air Display's Thomas Penberthy by MacVoices with Chuck Joiner, describing what it's all about:

Air Display works by connecting a computer that has the host app installed to another device (that's intended to serve as the extra screen) with the client app installed over Wi-Fi. You can either use the extra screens as extensions or mirrored displays. The host app itself is free, but the client app for your mobile or tablet device is $9.99 on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app can connect to up to 4 extra devices, though that feature is presently Mac-only. 

air display mac install ipad

I personally use Air Display on a daily basis with my iPad 2, as I frequently work remotely on my MacBook. In Premiere, for example, I'll use the iPad for my effects, history, and audio meter panes. The first time I tried that, I remember being pleasantly surprised that the latency on the meters is entirely un-noticeable (at least to my naked eye), despite being over a Wi-Fi connection. I typically only color correct using non-reflective monitors (I'm partial to the eloquently-named ASUS PA248Q), but I could also see myself docking the reference monitor/scopes there if necessary. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to dock the effects controls and/or metadata there, too. 

And if I had the new iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy 3 (or any other Android phablet with an ultra-huge screen), I could even get into docking some panes on there too. Presently I own an iPhone 5s, though, so I don't really think it's necessary. I could perhaps dock just the audio meters or something, but I'm doing well enough with just the extra iPad. Check out my setup below -- a MacBook with an iPad 2 in a Targus Versavu case:

avatron air display example macbook and ipad 2

If I were using this at home consistently, I'd probably use some kind of iPad goose neck or clamp, like this Atdec Visidec Flexible Desk Mount, or this pricier/more highly-rated option, The Joy Factory. (And one of those devices wouldn't necessarily be an investment in extra screen space only: tablet-mounting capabilities could come in handy should you be using a Teradeck in your video village, for example.) And of course, as the video above denotes, there's always that Kickstarted product SideCar from Venos Technology

It should be noted that Air Display is technically on version 2 (thus Air Display 2). I have noticed even less latency between the first and second version.

How do (or would) you use Air Display in your post production workflow? Do you use any alternatives to Air Display?      

Your Comment

13 Comments

I like the scopes in Resolve most with it. I find myself not liking dragging the mouse over in Premiere.

CTRL+Console with Premiere is much better. Especially later in the editing process when you're working with people, or showing the edit to someone just on a laptop.

September 17, 2014 at 7:42PM, Edited September 17, 7:42PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
475

Why not just get a normal second and third screen for cheap? (and it will be bigger too!)

I see the biggest benefit here will be for laptop users, as many might be bringing a tablet along anyway, and for a laptop having extra screen space in a compact form is very handy.

September 17, 2014 at 8:29PM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2297

You're forgetting the need to power one less thing (for a while). Fully charged Macbook Pro + fully charged iPad gives you a pretty solid two-up system without needing a power strip. It's a neat concept.

September 18, 2014 at 8:44PM

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David S.
2925

So this will work with any macbook. I have a mid 2010 macbook pro and I downloaded the mavericks cause of the air display with the apple TV. But then found out that it only worked with 2011 and older MacBooks. Anyone know is this app will work with older macs? I have a iPad 2 so I know that will work as the second display just like the video. Just not sure if you need that intel processor in order to do this. This would be great for traveling on event shoots and on the plane edits.

September 17, 2014 at 9:10PM

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Bert Beltran
Filmmaker | Editor | Motion Graphics | Drone Op
176

I wish they would enable HDMI input on the iPad. It would be much more useful than using an app like this and latency problems should be removed.
It could also make a great field monitor. Not for critical use, but for times that you don't want to carry your atomos, or small HD with you but you do have your iPad in your bag anyway.

September 17, 2014 at 9:13PM

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Richard Lewis
3D Visualisation Specialist
172

Check out the ASUS MB168B+

It's a mega slim 1080p USB display that is powered and connected simply by plugging a USB cable into your laptop. It's what I'm going to get for DIT jobs if I have to travel super light and it's only like £180 or something!

September 18, 2014 at 12:32AM

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Thanks for the info, Kraig: I think I'll buy one !

September 18, 2014 at 8:39PM

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Interesting to travel and have a second monitor but if you have already some screens don't make sense...

September 18, 2014 at 2:28AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7652

I've tried this with Premiere Pro on the latest and greatest (fastest) Macbook Pro. I started getting dropped frames in PP and had to lower the preview quality to be able to work. Even then, the graphics card fans were spinning like crazy while using Air Display and PP together.

September 18, 2014 at 5:57AM

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Steve Uhr
138

It's a good thing it's currently for mac only, my desk barely fits my T3500 and dual 22" Ultrasharp monitors as it is! Although I could see this useful for my email client, music, etc as I use my second monitor for scopes and program monitor panes already.

Those still frames look interesting, can't wait to see the finished product!

September 18, 2014 at 8:49AM, Edited September 18, 8:49AM

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Michael Carney
Director of Photography, Commercial Video, Stills
281

I see 2 benefits to this:

1) if you are working on a laptop in the field, where plugging in multiple monitors is not feasible, getting extra monitor space while not needing an extra power plug can be a real boost.

2) If the touch screen still works on this feature (if not then it should for $100 app) then this could give you a degree of flexibility to not be fully tethered to the computer. Say like during a client review. put the timeline controls on the Ipad screen, and sit next to the client to get direct feed back while still being able to pause and play your work.

September 18, 2014 at 9:42AM, Edited September 18, 9:42AM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
398

It's a $9.99 app according to the article. But I agree, it would be cool to have the touch screen available - the host app would need to include the appropriate drivers for this to work (unless apple already has them built in).

September 18, 2014 at 11:55AM, Edited September 18, 11:55AM

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Michael Carney
Director of Photography, Commercial Video, Stills
281

Pretty sure touch screen still works.

And like I mentioned earlier, CTRL+Console is AMAZING for what you said about client work (especially when showing on a laptop or not in an actual edit suite).

September 18, 2014 at 7:13PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
475

How about using it as a teleprompter monitor? Mirror and reverse your computer's display. That way you can make any script edits on a laptop rather than having to take the ipad off the prompter mount over and over again to make changes.

September 19, 2014 at 2:56PM

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