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December 2014
Issue: July 1, 2004

REVIEW: BELLA EDITING KEYBOARDS

By: By Tor Rolf Seemann

PRODUCT: Bella Professional Series keyboard

WEB SITE: www.bella-usa.com

PRICE: Professional Series, $189.95

- Built-in comfortable wrist rest

- Fully programmable jog/shuttle controller, specialty keys and multimedia keys

Bella Corporation, a supplier of digital video solutions, is now shipping a new series of editing keyboards with built-in hybrid technology, providing the flexibility of using the same keyboard on both Windows and Macintosh computers. You may remember the original EZ Keyboards made under the Post-Op Video nomenclature. Those were good, these are great!

This new technology has been integrated into its editing keyboards: the DV Keyboard, which is designed for consumer users, and the Professional Series, targeted toward broadcast professionals. The patented keyboards boast an integrated jog/shuttle controller and work with leading video applications, including Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas and many others. The keyboards can also be used in a more traditional fashion, enhancing applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel or for surfing porn.

Both the DV Keyboard and Professional Series have been updated with a sophisticated new look, featuring a curvaceous shape (that inspired the design of my backyard pool and spa) and jet black coloring with a contrasting metallic silver finish that picks up light like Kobe picks up women. Other notable improvements to the keyboards include multiple jog wheel indentations for better media control, multiple USB ports and multimedia keys.

FASTER FLOW

The Professional Series keyboard delivers features, speed and flexibility right at your fingertips. Not only will you learn your NLE faster, you will find that you can edit faster thanks so the jog/shuttle controller and specialty keys. Color and icon-coded keycaps are standard and a jog/shuttle controller has been built into the keyboard. Not only is this a great tool for editing, it's fun to play "DJ" and "scratch" your WAV files until your significant other makes you "edit" with headphones for the rest of the day. With the integrated jog/shuttle wheel, you can have precise frame-by-frame control over your timeline, video and audio clips without your hands ever having to leave the keyboard. Having the jog/shuttle right at your fingertips allows you to edit more efficiently and feel more connected to your audio and video clips. The shuttle (outer) ring, allows play and hold at the speed you want, while the jog (inner) wheel allows more finite frame-by-frame control. On top of that, there are two specialty keys that can be programmed for commonly-used commands, such as Mark In and Mark Out. You'll be banging out your cuts in no time!

PRESETS

Software is included with presets for most popular editing and compositing applications, with additional presets available to download for free. The keyboard also includes Web, email and multimedia keys for additional convenience. Want more? You can create your own settings and even have different presets automatically load with each application you use. I'm told that the special Bella shortcut layout included with Premiere Pro provides more than 40 percent more direct keystrokes than the default Premiere Pro layout.

I also had a chance to demo the Professional EZ Keyboard on a new Final Cut Pro HD system. The default key shortcuts in Final Cut Pro V.4 are mapped to the same key strokes as V.3. With V.4 you are now able to map every key to a shortcut function. A good suggestion for the Final Cut Pro 4 user is to leave the default settings as is, this leaves you with the "1/!" key through the "delete" on the top row of the keyboard along with the "tab, esc, help, home, end, page up, page down, print screen, scroll lock, pause and number pad" keys to map however you choose. Because these features are completely user defined, Bella will not be able to make a keyboard specific to V.4 of Final Cut Pro, but I do have two helpful solutions:

If you have already purchased the Professional Series EZ Keyboard for Final Cut Pro or you know that the Professional Series is the keyboard you want, there's an extensive sticker set available online that you can order direct at: www.bella-usa.com/Products-Stickers.asp. This will allow you to stick icons and labels to the keys that you have mapped out to your liking. If you want to remap all of the keys and it is not crucial that you have the colored shortcut keys, you can get the DV Keyboard. This keyboard does not have any colored keys and it is not specific to one application, it will come with the jog and shuttle feature and settings for Final Cut Pro. The same stickers listed above will be available for this keyboard and the unmarked keys will let you stick these labels on any key on the entire board.

All in all, the EZ Keyboard has come a long way since its Post-Op days. Bella has polished this system to the point that it is now a mandatory tool on my desktop.