For years I have dreamed of a way to call up effects with keyboard shortcuts when combing through an edit. This honestly started way back with Final Cut Pro 7 was my NLE of choice. The urge to build a solution was bad enough that I toyed around with learning how to code, but that feat never amounted to much. Thankfully Ivan Stepanov of Knights of the Editing Table had a little more perseverance in the coding arena than myself. In late 2020, he unsheathed Excalibur into the world. From then on, editing in Adobe Premiere would never be the same again.
What is Excalibur?
You may be familiar with the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes said to wield its own magical powers. I can’t speak for its lethality, but this version of Excalibur certainly slays tedious editing tasks in Premiere Pro with what can only be described as magic.
Excalibur does many – MANY – things (see the full list here), but my favorite feature is its sorcerer-like ability to add keyboard shortcuts to all of Premiere Pro’s effects. This is even true for third party effects like those from Red Giant or Boris FX. It also adds an easy-to-call interface, similar to Video Copilot’s Console for After Effects.
Then There Was a Problem
Touch Portal is the self-proclaimed macro multi-action remote control… What? Let me say it differently. Touch Portal is an app that can be added to your iPad, iPhone, or Android device that lets a user assign easily recognizable buttons to keystrokes and macros. Essentially every button on Touch Portal equals a keyboard keypress or keyboard combo. It also integrates with OBS, Twitch, Twitter, and others platforms/apps to easily execute monotonous actions. You can even program it to open specific applications on your computer.
You may be thinking that this sounds an awful lot like an Elgato Stream Deck and you’d be right. After some quick Googling you’ll quickly find there’s quite the fight between the two platforms. What sold me on Touch Portal is I already had the equipment necessary (iPad mini) to put it to work in my editing workflow. Further, the $13 pro-version of the Touch Portal app sounded a lot better than the $140 version of the Stream Deck!
One last plus for Touch Portal, it isn’t just siloed to Premiere Pro. It can be configured to work in any application that you regularly use.
With Our Powers Combined…
A good Captain Planet reference is a great way to round out bringing Excalibur and Touch-Portal into my workflow for faster editing. So what did that look like?
First in Excalibur I went about adding my preferred hotkeys to my most-used effects while editing, like gaussian blur, crop, flips, lumetri, and others. I also used Excalibur to add hotkeys to my custom reverb ringout preset. Then I went about creating some custom user commands in Excalibur for changing clip properties, like position, scale, and rotation. Now I could select clips and change their combined properties all with the keyboard!
With the hotkeys mapped, next in Touch Portal I sourced icons and created others to make buttons. Then I programed the hotkey combos from Excalibur for each of the buttons and even created a few macros that allow me to reverse clip speed, delete unused audio / video tracks, and turn my program monitor overlays on / off, all with a single button.
Result: Faster Editing
After a bit of testing, Touch Portal and Excalibur were ready to rock my editing world. Though these tools won’t necessarily make crafting a story an easier or faster, they certainly make the creative process of stylizing that story much quicker. Whether its quickly calling up effects through Excalibur or using Touch Portal to instantly apply assigned effects, these two tools speed up the editing process and should become integral parts of your editing workflow. Also check out these great in-depth videos for a guide to Excalibur and how to program Touch Portal.
I’ve packaged my personal Touch Portal page from the video post and made it available at the link below. It’s pre-programmed with icons, buttons, and macros for either PC or macOS. Simply follow these instructions to install on your Touch Portal device. The download includes a key for programming Excalibur with the right hotkeys as well as my custom reverb ringout preset.
MAC USERS – Touch Portal only works with Excalibur v1.0.2 and above (soon to be released)