September 16, 2019

These Modular Controllers Let You Built Your Own Editing Console

Monogram Modular Controls
Are Trackballs history? Monogram’s Orbiter module combines a pressure-sensitive center disc with an infinite-turn encoder ring for three dimensions of control. 

Today, Monogram (formerly Palette Gear) launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new Modular Hardware Control system. 

I’ve been using the Palette Gear system for a year and even though I really like it (as I talked about in this article), it has some shortcomings. The good news?

All of them seem to be gone with Monogram Creative Controls. 

To be clear this is not a sponsored article. I just think that we haven't seen anything so exciting in the hardware control surfaces realm in a while.

With a dedicated Essential Controls, Monogram is versatile enough that you can seamlessly switch between workflows and apps through integrations with Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Capture One, and more.

More than that, users can adjust the responsiveness of each module including sensitivity, range, and granularity.

Customization seems to be unlimited with MIDI protocol and the ability to map keyboard shortcuts, macros, as well as joystick and mouse actions.

But what seems to be most interesting is the new Orbital control. 

Monogram Studio Controler

Innovative New Orbiter Module Allows for 3D Controls and Color Grading

The Orbiter has two main parts: a pressure-sensitive disc on top and an infinite encoder ring just below the disc. They can both be used at the same time but are mechanically isolated so you can change one without touching the other.

It's supposed to be very precise in turning your expression into defined action in any supported software. You can use it to control Adobe Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro and After Effects. Orbiter unlocks software possibilities for a better, menu-free color grading experience.

A founder of Monogram, Calvin Chu, claims that it's designed in a way that it feels familiar for those who have used trackballs in the past while at the same time improves upon the flaws of trackballs, joysticks, and touchpads with Orbiter's disc mechanism.

Monogram controlling Premiere Pro

Unlike other color grading panels, the Orbiter (and other Monogram modules) can be dynamically set to new functions via Profile Switching.

We can assign an Orbiter to control color wheels and then switch to timeline control using a disc as timeline zoom/shuttle and a ring as jog wheel. This reduces unnecessary hand movement for dramatic speed improvement.

Portability

Monogram is super portable!

If you're a colorist, you could take a single Orbiter on-set and use the Essential Keys to quickly switch between Lows/Mids/Highs. When you get back to the studio, just snap it into another two Orbiters and you have a full, more traditional 3-wheel setup. You can sweeten things up with additional buttons, slider, and dials. It's really versatile.

Modularity

Monogram is fully modular. You can fit it into any workspace. You can build your Monogram Creative Control surface over time, which is also great in terms of the cost. You don't need to invest a few thousand dollars to own a dedicated controller. At the same time, it's manufactured from solid aerospace aluminum and finished in a premium sandblasted texture with an anodization coating for durability. So, the quality is kept at the high-end.

Monogram is 40% slimmer than its predecessor, Palette Gear, and they say that a single Monogram module can support up to 135 functions!

Modularity of Monogram Controls

Backward Compatible with Palette Gear Ecosystem

Monogram Console is backward-compatible. You can use Palette Gear buttons, dials, and sliders with it. You just need to use the new Monogram core for the best performance and full-feature support if you want to mix these two generations of the product together.

It's so nice to see something new in the world of panels, which seemed stagnant for decades. Monogram Creative Console gives photographers, editors, music producers, and all kinds of creators an affordable, customizable, and flexible tool to increase productivity. The console is available for pre-order on Kickstarter now starting at about $230 and going as high as $630.

What do you think of it? Let us know down in the comments!

 

 

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1 Comment

First, this is pretty cool.
Second, Colorists don't go on set. That's a DIT.
Third, you shouldn't use these for on-set color because, unless something has changed from the Palette days, this wont' be supported in Resolve or any other color software that needs trackballs. I have never seen anyone go on set using Premiere for dailies color and processing.
As a colorist, and a DIT, I've always been very disappointed with Lumetri's limitations; you can only push lift/gamma/gain to a certain point, masks are clunky, no tracking, ineffectual keying.
Besides which, trackballs are really amazing tools. You can have absolute control of where, and how quickly, you want to push your color to a certain point.
This seems to miss the mark for actual color grading, but would certainly make a great tool for an editor that needs to crank out something usable. That's an important distinction that is always glossed over in these pieces and in Palette/Monogram's marketing materials.

September 16, 2019 at 2:58PM

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