The only sure thing in this world is there are no sure things. Chaos rules. Recently chaos caught up with me in the form of an abrupt stop. As a casual mountain biker, I was enjoying myself early one morning when the rock-covered ground, unprovoked, rudely attacked my left shoulder with such force that my collar bone snapped into 3 pieces. Chaos 1 – Chris 0.
The minimal recovery time for a guy in his mid-30s with a break like mine is 12 weeks. As a video editor, that meant 12 weeks of one-handed video editing. Without a dedicated hand for the keyboard and another for the stylus (or mouse), one hand will always be slower than two. Still, I needed a way to bring my solo right hand up to speed so my projects would still deliver in a timely fashion. Touch Portal to the rescue. There is a slight learning curve, but after teaching my right group of phalanges to hop onto the iPad instead of crossing over to the keyboard, I noticed a snappier flow coming back to me when cutting.
So if you’re a video editor that, for any reason, ends up missing a hand, I hope this video and Touch Portal page will help you as much as it has helped me.
Two Functions to Rule Them All
The Touch Portal layout that I landed on was born from my most frequently used shortcuts and then reworked over and over as I went through an edit that was already in progress before my bike threw me to the ground. The buttons on the page are all self-explanatory, but I’ll expand on them all below anyway. More importantly, are two functions in particular that have increased my one-handed-editing speed most dramatically.
The first is easy access to the “Replace with Clip” function. I’ve raved about this shortcut before as being essentially a faster way to get media from the project panel into the timeline. It’s smoking fast compared to a 3-point edit and this Touch Portal page puts this power in an easy-to-use button. Combining the Replace with Clip with easy access to Match Frame takes that quickness to another level when pulling multiple shots from the same media source.
The next and arguably most important feature on this Touch Portal page are the modifier buttons, shift, alt, and ctrl. I’ve programmed all of the buttons to be sticky for 5 seconds, meaning that once pressed, they’re active for a full 5 seconds or until they’re pressed again. As seen in the video, the benefits of having easy access to these keys are immense. They’re also able to be used together. For example, if I want to call shortcuts using Excalibur, I can tap alt + ctrl (my Excalibur hotkey combo) plus whatever extra hotkey I need on the keyboard. Or another example is using shift + alt to duplicate a video clip and move it to another video layer, while keeping it from moving forward or backward in the timeline.
Favorites aside, below is a quick breakdown of all the page’s individual buttons.
One-Handed Video Editing Button Guide
Using the timeline cursor, pulls the current timeline frame into the source monitor.
Replace with Clip
Replaces the contents of a selected clip in the timeline with what is currently in the source monitor, using the source monitor's IN mark.
Moves the selected clip in the timeline to the left by one frame.
Moves the selected clip in the timeline to the right by one frame.
Saves the current Premiere Pro project.
Shift modifier key. Sticks for 5 seconds or until pressed again.
Alt modifier key. Sticks for 5 seconds or until pressed again.
Ctrl modifier key. Sticks for 5 seconds or until pressed again.
Removes the currently selected clip.
Reverse Match Frame
Using the source monitor cursor, locates the current source monitor frame in the current timeline, if that frame is in the timeline.
Tool used to slip the contents of a clip left or right within its current IN and OUT points in the timeline.
Default tool in Premiere Pro.
Copies currently selected clips, effects, text, or other properties.
Pastes copied clips, effects, text, or other properties to a new location. If pasting clips on the timeline, the clips overwrite whatever is already there.
Pastes copied clips into the timeline while shifting the contents of the timeline forward from the timeline's playhead.
Mark IN Point
Adds an IN point marker to the timeline or clip.
Mark OUT Point
Adds an OUT point marker to the timeline or clip.
Clear IN - OUT Points
Removes IN and OUT point markers in the timeline or clip.
Lock Video Tracks
Locks all video tracks.
Lock Audio Tracks
Locks all audio tracks.
Opens Speed/Duration properties window.
Inserts the clip from the source monitor or project window into the current timeline, pushing the current clips forward from the playhead.
Adds the clip from the source monitor or project window into the current timeline, overwriting the current clips from the playhead.
Reverts the last change that was made.
Redoes the last undo command that was made.
Goes to Touch Portal's main screen.
Play / Pause
Plays or pauses playback in source monitor or timeline.
A Caveat for Mac Users
There is one bit of unfortunate news for any single-handed Mac users reading this… The sticky modifier keys are built using Touch Portal’s low-level keypress commands, which are a Windows-only feature. I racked my brain for hours trying to circumvent this, but alas the Mac version of this Touch Portal page does not have modifier keys.