Using a Steam Controller as a jog/shuttle device for editing

So here's something interesting/exciting.

I've had a Steam Controller for a while now. It's a quirky device designed by Valve for use in games. The concept was to make a controller that would work for ANY game, including ones not designed for controllers - like PC strategy games which traditionally use the mouse and a MILLION keyboard shortcuts. I wrote about it in a general sense over here.

Yesterday I realised that the device might work as a custom jog/shuttle-type controller for editing software. When I got home I experimented with setting it up for use in HitFilm.

I'm going to have a full blog post and video about this, but suffice to say that early impressions are very positive. It works far better than I'd expected. Rather than being a novelty curio, this thing has the potential to be actively useful.

So far I've got analogue-feeling playhead movement (which feels GREAT, slinging the playhead around), variable forward/backward playback, copy/paste/duplicate commands and all the editing tools mapped onto the controller.

Where it gets really cool is that the controller also functions as a high accuracy mouse, at the same time as doing all this other stuff. This means that it's not just doing a wonky impression of a Contour product - it's actually replacing your entire keyboard/mouse setup, plus a jog/shuttle, into one neat hand-held device. I don't need to swap between control devices at all.

An important detail is that the Steam Controller is $50 / £40. Which is a pretty nice price.

Anyway, it's promising and fun stuff. More soon.

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Comments

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hmmmm... Sounds like it might be able to possibly replace my MMO mouse/Contour Shuttle Pro setup. If the ergonomics work for me. I'll wait and see what your opinions are after a few more weeks of use.

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    Yeah - I don't know yet how it'll hold up to extensive, practical use. And I don't think it'll work so well for compositing - especially once you start having to dig in to Controls panel properties. But for traditional editing it's seeming very promising.

    (that said, you can have alternate action sets which you can switch between on the fly, so you could theoretically have one action set for editing, and then with a single button press switch over to a completely different setup for compositing)

  • We're going to see the updated post with an image of a Steam controller broken in half. :D :D

    I've always wondered about game controller for editing. Id imagine compositing would be very difficult though.

    I still haven't bought a tablet yet, but I probably will soon, unless you convince me to buy a steam controller. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I dunno---up and down arrows will change slider values, so I can you mapping a wheel for that for tweaking keyframes and suchnot.

  • Holy crap!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-IbKBPDdh0

    That's so fast. I'm sure this is way faster than a mouse or a tablet. How far away are we from seeing pros with game controllers in their hands? Huge time saver to be honest. Might be an obstacle instead in large scale projects, but you never know!

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator
    edited May 2016

    Yeah, I saw that video as well. Using a traditional game controller is extremely limiting, though - the Steam Controller gives you far more control and potential. This guy's done a great job, though - I shall see if I can match it for functionality.

  • I'm so excited now actually. If this steam controller will be able to replace my keyboard shortcuts and mouse, then I'll be really impressed. I'm not a kid, but I have played quite a bit of Call of Duty. xD

  •  So i went to town to buy new movies, and ended up buying the Steam controller. Originally I was going to get one for browsing, but then Simon mentioned it can be used with HitFilm, so why not 2 birds with one stone... :)

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    Ha! Well, I hope you're not disappionted. Hmm, I should really have worked out some kind of commission/affiliate setup with Valve before posting this discussion.

    I'm hoping to have time to do a tutorial tonight, and I'll also share my controller config. You might be able to find it already - I'm not quite sure how configs are distributed via Steam, or whether you can search for specific ones.

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    Yeah I have no idea how to download your controller profile. My Steam name is KevinTheFilmmaker if that helps.

    http://steamcommunity.com/id/KevinTheFilmmaker

    I love the feedback you get when moving the cursor, but yeah basically just learning how the thing works.

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    Here we go. Very much a work in progress but it's already surprisingly functional :

    https://youtu.be/5esd5zQxnFs

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    @SimonKJones

    Hey, I'm trying to find your config, but I can't find it. What game did you create this profile in, assuming that's how it works?

    This appears to be the only way, found it on reddit:

    Go to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\workshop\content\241100

    If you only have a few folders here you can go through looking for your config. Mine currently has 36 folders so I loaded up Big Picture and exported the config file. Then sort by Date Modified and the folder should be right at the top.

    Have your friend place the controller_configuration.vdf file in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\controller_base\templates. He should then be able to select the config by going to Templates when browsing in big picture mode.

  • Well, I managed to get your config to work in Rocket League, close enough.

    I'm honestly lost. Seems to take a programmer to solve this... How are you using the config on your desktop?

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    Ah, in Steam settings, configs, you can set the Desktop configuration. That's what will be used when you're just on your normal Desktop.

  • Thanks!

    Trying out your config in HitFilm right now.

  •  Holy S###! that's dynamically useful in most of the tasks I undertake in a lot of applications, even using this in D.A.W's for the nitty gritty ultra sensitive dials, 

    I'm going to have to check out the pricing,

    Nice one Simon.

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    It's about £40 in the UK, I believe, which puts it below most of the decent jog/shuttle devices (which I assume generally don't include full mouse control as part of the deal). Plus, of course, you get a cool game controller, if you happen to play games too.

    I liked the idea in concept, but I thought I should properly commit and so edited the above video using the controller itself. It's a pretty simple video, of course, but I was very quickly switching tools, slicing, trimming, ripple deleting etc etc.

    The biggest challenge is just remembering where I've mapped everything. As long as I'm able to remember where everything is, it's a really, genuinely pleasant editing experience. And, actually, the analogue-feeling shuttling of the playhead in HitFilm feels great - more tangible than using mouse and keyboard.

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    The touch pad is what really sets it apart from the other controllers. I'm having no issues importing projects/looking through folders on my PC. Typing on the other hand is definitely faster with a keyboard than the on-screen keyboard, though I love what they did with that. It's almost like typing on a smartphone.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Us price is about $60. A Contour Shuttle Pro is $80, and most other shuttle/jogs are more expensive. 

    I may give this a try for myself. 

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    @KevinTheFilmmaker - yeah, the on-screen keyboard is really good for a controller. It's by far the best 'typing with a controller' solution I've encountered, but it's certainly not up to normal typing. I think the pads require a bit too much 'click' for it to be as smooth as I want it to be.

    But yeah - the pads are amazing. I can use the right pad just as accurately as I would a mouse. Certainly for basic editing I can see me transitioning to this over KB+M. Ergonomically, it's actually more comfortable - I can sit back in my chair, relax, and don't have to keep my arms outstretched.

    I'm fairly happy with my editing setup. Do you have any thoughts on how a compositing-based layout could work? 

  • @SimonKJones

    Indeed!

    No, I'm actually working on refining Importing/Browsing folders right now.

    Update later. :)

     

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Compositing is... Different. If your workflow is like mine you spend most of your time masking or in the effects panel/control panel. This is where those wishlist key mappings for opening and closing trees and soloing/muting layers com in handy. 

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    @KevinTheFilmmaker - an entirely separate Action Set for importing/managing folders could be pretty awesome, actually. So you'd have one action set for bringing in all your stuff, then the current one for editing, and another for compositing. 

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    @SimonKJones Yep!
    I've done a lot of testing now, so I'm gonna take a break. This is a lot of fun, and very convenient and useful. Because while travelling the Steam Controller is hands down the best affordable option in my opinion.

     

     

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    I'm intending to use the Select button (to the left of the Steam button) for switching between each action set.

    Only gripe I have is that you can't duplicate an action set as a starting point - the comp and edit sets are likely to share a lot of functions, but in the beta at the moment you have to create each from scratch, which is frustrating.

    In terms of travelling, the only drawback there is that you need Steam on the computer to access your setup. Fine if you're using your machines, but clients/3rd party edit computers are unlikely to have a gaming app installed!

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    @SimonKJones

    If we can make it so that Steam runs HitFilm, then the Touch Menu available for the Scroll Wheel Click function would be able to display all the different sets, and do that on all of the sets.

    Do you know how we can make HitFilm run through Steam's Big Picture Mode?

    When I add HitFilm to Steam, it fails to launch. That's the only thing stopping us from using 1 button to scroll through sets, on all sets.

    For now just use the R Pad and the Stick Up/Down/Left/Right to scroll through the different Trimmer/Edit/Comp/Import sets.

    Hmm.. I never thought of that. I did notice it though, starting at a blank screen with a tons of buttons to customise have been annoying.

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    I don't think you can - only full screen games can be launched with the full overlay enabled. Oddly, even in desktop mode the overlaid keyboard still works, but none of the other UI bits do.

  • CNKCNK
    edited May 2016

    @SimonKJones

    How much have you worked on your config since your video? 

  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator

    Not at all, as I've been at work. :P I'll check that out over the weekend.

    The Steam Controller has massively improved since its launch late last year. They're iterating very fast on the software, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the sharing/storing/creating process get easier over time.

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