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Method 2: One Hand on the Keyboard

The keyboard is another way to shuttle and hunt through video—there are keyboard equivalents for almost all the on-screen controls. It utilizes different skills and provides slightly different control from the mouse. For instance, there is no "drag." You can hop around from control to control, but your hands are relatively fixed. Most keyboard controls for beginners are optimal for one hand, probably your right. When you get good and learn more keyboard functions, you'll find you can edit with two hands, just as if you're typing. This book will not go into that. I suggest not trying to learn all the keyboard functions right away; add shortcuts only as your confidence grows.

Space Bar

The best thing about the keyboard is that big ol' space bar: it functions as Play/Stop. It takes up about eight times the space of any of the other keys, so you know it's got to be important.

Figure 41


With the same VidClip1 in the Viewer, make sure the Viewer is active and press the space bar to play and press it again to stop.

Now let's learn how to move faster and back up, as you did with the shuttle knob.

J, K, L

Line up the J, K, and L keys under the first three fingers of your right hand, and you use them like this.

Figure 42J = Play backward
K = Stop
L = Play forward


By pressing a kind of pattern, L ... K ... J ... K ... L you rock and roll over a given spot. You could skip the K—there's no need to stop between going forward and backward, but sometimes the point is about trying to stop on a frame to look at it, so you roll back, stop, look at it, roll forward a bit, stop, look again, and so on. But yes, you could just go back and forth, back and forth (L-J, L-J).

These are nice controls for rockin' and rollin'. If you want to move faster than playspeed, you simply press the J or L again and get more speed: pressed once you go at playspeed, twice is 2X speed, three times is 4X, and four times is 8X.

I sometimes use these keys for their multi-hit speed shuttling, but if it feels like what I'm looking for isn't nearby, I tend to grab hold of the mouse and try to go faster, probably using the scrubber bar.

If you want to get even fancier, you can use the K (stop) at the same time as the J or L, to crawl in either direction. This requires holding one finger down while tapping or moving the adjacent finger. It can take a little more coordination for the novice. A nice feature of using the K with the J or L is that the audio pitch changes as you move. Again, there are times you want to hear unaffected audio, and there are times when a pitch change is nice.

Using J, K, L along with the space bar, you'll enjoy an entire range of fine controls.

Arrow Keys

Most keyboards also have arrow keys for navigation. The left and right arrows serve as step forward and backward: a singleframe movement. This is my favorite way to move frame by frame. I repeatedly press the arrow to move around when I am close to where I think I need to be and want to examine the frames more closely. Playspeeds, and even slow crawls, are just too fast sometimes. They actually slow me down because I have trouble hitting the right spot. If you hold the arrow key down, the video will start jogging in that direction, slowly. Again, an excellent way to move around.

Figure 43


Repeatedly hitting a key, like the one-frame step arrows, may not always be the most efficient way to look around, but it is remarkably simple. And as a side benefit, it makes editing feel a little bit like a videogame—think a Fire/Shoot button in Asteroids (if you're over 30) or Tomb Raider (if you're not).

Other dedicated keys can be used to pop from beginning to end of a clip, or between various marks that you can place within the clip—but let's skip placing marks for the moment and just work on keyboard target practice.

A Special Kind of Navigation

The up and down arrow keys perform a special kind of navigation in your material. They pop you either toward the head of your clip (up) or toward the tail (down), stopping only at special points of interest along the way. In the Viewer, the arrows stop at each mark (In or Out) on their way to the head or tail of the clip. In the Canvas, where there are usually many more intermediary marks and edits, they move you edit-by-edit in whichever direction you're going (yes, they also stop at In and Out marks). It's a terrific way to move quickly around in a sequence or clip.

The on-screen controllers for this function are these buttons located near the Play button in both the Canvas and Viewer.

Figure 44These navigation tools are excellent for moving around in clips, but aren't ideal for finding frames within a shot, as you are at this point in your precisioncontrol practice. We'll revisit these alternate forms of navigation later, when we get into editing.

Target Practice

  1. Double-click the VidClip1 icon in the Browser again.

    This opens the clip in the Viewer window. You are now looking at the first captured frame of this clip. You could just click on the Viewer itself, if you know the clip you want to play is there, but if you're ever confused, this is the surefire way to establish that you're looking at (and controlling) the clip you think you are.

  2. Using the keyboard, try to stop on the flash frame again.

    First use the space bar.

    Next use the JKL buttons.

    Finally, play around with these in combination with the arrow keys, if you have them.

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