Real editing controls at my fingertips

Growing up in the video editing world, I experienced a lot of different types of controllers. The first editing system I learned on was Affinity from Accom, Inc. It was a real-time uncompressed nonlinear editing system and it came with a large controller panel. When I transitioned from the Affinity system to Final Cut Pro, I really missed the controller system that I had with the Affinity. Everything was done using the keyboard and mouse at that point and I basically had to relearn how to edit. Even though keyboard/mouse control has improved over the years, I’ve still wanted to add-in another controller panel. Fortunately for me, the TourBox was born out of the same desire I had – efficiency when editing. 

DETAILS 

TourBox is an advanced controller designed for creative professionals. It’s specifically designed for photographers and designers who want to improve their efficiency and overall experience. It’s fully customizable so that creatives can simplify inputs and optimize their work. The controller can be adapted to use with any software and personalized to your workflow. It is designed to be ergonomic and has a natural feel for its operation. The TourBox has a companion app that connects the device to other settings in featured applications. This console is also how users change up the settings on the TourBox.

Main Features

  • Full Brush Control 
  • Seamless Integration of Your Workflow 
  • Optimize Creative Performance with Customized Shortcuts
  • 1000 Times Engine Tuning
  • Familiar Control with Less Moves
  • Get Creative Anytime & Anywhere
  • Supports one-hand operation

USER EXPERIENCE

The TourBox comes in a hefty black box. A quick start guide, user manual, and USB-C to USB-A cable are included with the device itself. One of the first things I took notice of with the TourBox was its weight. The device is solid and its weight actually helps with its performance. It doesn’t move around on the desk as you use it. The TourBox also has a very nice smooth, matte finish to it, which makes it very comfortable to use. Despite its weight, the device is small enough to travel. I do wish that a carrying case was provided with it for this purpose.  

It’s almost shaped like a video game console controller, but it has lots of different buttons, knobs, and wheels that a gaming controller does not. At first glance, I found all these different methods of input intimidating. When you look at it, it doesn’t seem like there is any rhyme or reason to the button layout, but the truth is that each button and wheel is just a little different. 

I believe the TourBox was designed this way to help users be able to feel without looking where the specific controls are. When you learn to type, you put your fingers on the ‘home row’ which is indicated by the raised bumps on the F and J keys. You learn from that row that if you move your fingers in a certain direction that you will find the letters you are looking for. The premise of this device’s design is similar. You start to learn the feel of the controller very quickly and once you master it, you can become a much more efficient creator – no matter what your medium is. 

So, getting to know the TourBox hardware is only half of the puzzle. The second part is TourBox software. This is available for macOS and Windows. It can only be downloaded from tourboxtech.com. TourBox just recently updated the software to version 2.2 to include optimization of its video editing area. Some of its features include:

  • Firmware has upgraded to 2.0, new combinations added: short button + C1 & Short button + C2. 
  • Premier-related built-in functions added
  • Default Premiere presets added: Premiere editing preset and Premiere color grading preset
  • The number of presets that can be stored increased to 30
  • Multiple presets can be linked to the same software to suit different workflows
  • If multiple presets are linked to the same software, you can use the built-in function ‘Switch Presets’ to switch between these presets 
  • Slow mode is added for rotary operations
  • The mode of sending command after releasing is added for the Tall button, Short button, Top button, and Side button
  • When the ‘auto-switch presets’ function is enabled, the size position, color, and transparency of the HUD will be remembered according to different software
  • Optimized the display of the HUD
  • Notification switch added
  • Upgraded Lightroom plug-in and fixed bugs
  • Optimized the Console interface
  • New languages supported: German, French, Spanish, and Italian 

This is one of the aspects of TourBox that I truly appreciate – frequent upgrades. The team at TourBox is constantly striving to make the user experience brighter and more efficient and so, they roll out frequent updates to their software to enhance what it can offer. The only thing that would make it better is if the software were offered through the App Store or if it could be upgraded through the app itself. I had to go back to the website to download the newest version when the update was released. 

The TourBox connects to your computer through a USB-C to USB-A connection and a braided cable is included with the device for this purpose. After getting the software installed, the TourBox was immediately recognized by my computer when I plugged it in. Now, I will admit that when I first sat down to use the device, I wanted to default to using my right hand. I am, after all, right-handed. This proved to be an awkward exercise since I kept moving my mouse with my right hand and then moving the TourBox to be in a good position to use. I thought, “This can’t be right. I’m spending more time moving back and forth between these two devices than I would have spent editing this photo with just the mouse and keyboard. This can’t be what the designer of the TourBox intended.”

So, I moved the TourBox to my left hand. It felt so much more natural! My thumb rested over the tall and short buttons, my index finger was controlling the C1 and C2 buttons, my pinky could control the side button, the middle finger was able to control the top button, and the ring finger could work with the scroll wheel or dial. This placement made for a much more fluid control of the device. Now, this did mean that I had to teach myself how to operate this type of device with my passive hand. So, I could see this being a minor roadblock to some users. That said, we have all sort of become ambidextrous thanks to keyboards and game controllers. 

Speaking of which, do you remember when I said that it looked like a gaming controller? Well, even though I believe the TourBox was primarily designed to be controlled by your left hand, you can pick it up and use both hands like you would with a gaming controller. This can make for a very fast review of a photo session in Lightroom as you make selects. I can’t take credit for this idea as I saw another reviewer make mention of it first, but after I tried it, I thought that it was a magical way to bring the TourBox into a workflow. 

Even though I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I want to point out again that the TourBox can be customized to use with ANY software. It’s meant to help users eliminate the need to use their keyboard for shortcuts or repeated tasks. I personally used it in Lightroom, with Da Vinci Resolve, and in Photoshop. The buttons, wheels, and dials are all very responsive and it’s easy to tell when you’ve made a selection. Creating presets for different applications is pretty simple, too. This makes it easy to switch back and forth when you want to make the most of your TourBox. I really appreciate that part of the product — the fact that it has many purposes. To me, that makes it more marketable for more people. 

CONCLUSION

The TourBox can be a game-changer for creative professionals if it’s used properly and if the user takes the time to learn it. I could see some people getting frustrated with the learning process and giving up. But, if you carve out the time to learn the tool, it will end up saving you time in the long run. If I were to request anything from the developers of TourBox it would be to make a Bluetooth version of it so that there isn’t an extra cable strewn across my desk, but I’m willing to deal with it because TourBox is just that useful. Aside from that, I’m very happy with the device and can’t wait to see what updates the TourBox team comes up with next.

For more information, visit tourboxtech.com, Facebook, and Twitter.