Hardware for Shortcuts

The time it takes to execute two handed shortcuts in After Effects or any program has always bothered me. It’s one or two seconds here and there, making sure your hand moves from the mouse to the correct letter or symbol and then back again. One Day I came across a used gaming keyboard and decided to explore the possibilities of speeding up my workflows with it. I quickly got addicted and added a mouse and gameboard with this setup.

The G510 Keyboard

Logitech G510s Keyboard

Logitech G510s Keyboard Main keys assignment
My default setup for After Effects keyboard shortcuts.

This keyboard has a bank of 18 ‘Gkeys’ or function keys just off to the left of the normal keys, which is programmed and managed with the Logitech Gaming Software. Each one of these can be programmed with a keyboard shortcut, a series of key strokes (with an option for delay) or a text block. I mainly took advantage of simple keyboard shortcuts to speed up working in the timeline, like ctrl + ] (assigned to G15) for moving layers up and down. Other handy shortcuts I assigned were cutting and aligning layers to the playhead, which makes for fast manipulation of layers without zooming. My favorite is assigning more complex things like time reverse keys (G3) to a function key. Time reverse keys is a function that I use quite frequently, but have to navigate though a right click menu when executing. Now I hit right click and tap the programmed key and it executes instantly.

The G602 Mouse

8 Extra Programmable Keys
Logitech G602 Mouse

 

My default After Effects setup for the mouse.

The mouse works in exactly the same way that the keyboard does with assigning shortcuts and whatnot. The most useful keys that were assigned here were ‘Enter’ and RAM Preview. The enter key is assigned to the clicking function of the scroll wheel. This comes in handy with the dialogs that After Effects pops up for solids and compositions, etc. Once your values are put into those dialogs, click the scroll wheel and you don’t have to take the time to go down and hit that ‘OK’ button. Also, assigning the RAM preview to G8 makes for starting the render on your RAM preview faster than leaving the mouse to hit NumPad 0.

The G13 Gameboard

G13 Gameboard

 

G13 keylayout
My G13 Gameboard Values for After Effects

I picked up the G13 for a crazy cheap price so I decided to add it to the collection. I found it to be a good side companion to expand the number of keyboard Gkeys. Each keyboard and gameboard do have memory banks to store key setups in, but I find it hard to remember to switch them back once I’m done using them, so having more physical keys is easier to remember. On this board I focused more on the tedious keyframe manipulation tasks. By assigning text blocks to certain keys. The text blocks insert text and even carriage returns when you push a function key.  For values like ‘0’ and ‘100’ (good for opacity keys) I assigned them to a key, I can just click the value field in the timeline and it is inserted and accepted. For a more complicated function like adding +5 or +10 units to a value, I used multi-key which can do more complex keyboard combinations. For adding +5 to a value  I would click the value to  highlight it then the function would: move the cursor all the way to the right, insert “+5” text and then hit enter. This all happens in a fraction of a second, and looks like one swift move.

Additionally all of these pieces of hardware operate though one one central piece of software, The Logitech Gaming software. When switching between different applications the software will bring up that particular profile for each and every piece of software . These profiles can even be stored within the keyboard to make them easier to carry around, import and export between machines.

 

John Hilbert Written by: