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May 20th, 2010

Artists working in the digital domain often feel frustrated by the limits of their keyboards. Over the years, alternative input devices like graphics tablets have helped in many ways. Graphic TabletDifferent kinds of tablets (Wacom is a leading model) are used every day in compositing, design, animation and post-production, and there are doubtless many of them plugged into CRE computer rentals right now. The freedom to use your hand drawing skills brings another dimension to your work, and fabulous results are possible.

Overlay keyboards

Another way for artists to streamline and accelerate their workflow is by using overlay keyboards, which date back to the first days of computer use. Typically, the overlay keyboard is a flat grid of buttons, usually unmarked, that is programmed with special software that accompanies the product. After this, a sheet (the overlay) is placed over the keys to identify their functions. The future for these alternative input devices will include touch-screen technology, which is a hot field for R&D right now.

Artists using Maya or Pro Tools on CRE Mac Pro rentals can automate entire workflows without writing complex scripts and save valuable time by programming the special keyboards. For example, the Enterpad reduces repetitive keystrokes and automates common tasks, reducing the time, effort and cost of the work. It is plugged in like any other keyboard and plays nice with all your programs. The Enterpad uses no proprietary drivers or special interface, not even when used with DOS.

The XKeys unit is a fully programmable key pad that will program shortcuts and record your typing so you can use a single keystroke to generate boilerplate messages, e-mails or correspondence. Digital artists can also customize the XKeys pad to perform elaborate tasks of all kinds, whether they’re using one of CRE’s iMac Rentals or a PC. The time you save using a special keyboard depends on many variables, but there is no question that they aid in efficiency and throughput.

On the ‘inputing”  horizon

In the future, we will be inputting information into our computers with our bodies – eye movements, head positions and the kind of hand and body input already seen in the Wii and other game systems. These are the next devices we will see in computing because of the head start gained in the game industry. The  technology is just starting to take off.

Voice input is already available, but the technology is limited to taking dictation. True control of the computer will require that voice commands be understood at sentence length, like post-production managers telling their computer rentals to “copy the files, render the cartoon and upload it all to the main server.” The problem is “speaker independent continuous voice recognition.” Even the best software used today, which some say is Dragon Naturally Speaking, still needs to be trained to a particular speaker’s voice, intonation and cadence. When everyone can use the software out of the box, a new age will dawn in human-computer interaction.

CRE follows the technology trends so that we can help you be prepared for whatever comes your way. Need mac rentals or render farm for upcoming project? Simply fill out the Quick Rental Quote form and we’ll be on it right away. There’s no time to spare, the future is coming fast!

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