Loupedeck CT vs. Stream Deck: To increase Final Cut Pro X’s productivity, both save time


Image: Loupedeck

Video editing can be a time consuming chore. The general rule of thumb is that it can take around an hour and a half of editing time to edit a minute of finished video. So if you are producing a 7 minute video, you should allocate about a day of editing time.

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This ratio can vary, of course. My last video is almost 12 minutes long but took me about four hours to edit. This is because there weren’t too many cuts and not a lot of B-roll. It was mainly a video screenshot explaining how to create a 3D object.

On the other hand, the video I made a month ago, the one on 3D printing washing and curing stations, took me almost four days to assemble but only gave about 8 minutes. of final video. There was a lot more complexity in this production.

And, right now, I’m working on a review of a 3D printer that I had to build. I filmed the whole building process (which itself took almost a day). The review will cover much more than the simple construction process. I had to shorten the segment, but explained a number of key issues and issues that I found during build.

There is much more to the final video, including beauty photos of the final 3D prints, speaking time, and final conclusions. Still, converting 8 hours of video into four minutes of final editing (just for that part of the review) took place over a period of four days, for a total of around 16 hours of work.

Because the working time / result time ratio is so huge, anything that can reduce the time it takes to assemble a video is worth your attention. And that brings me to the Loupedeck CT, a $ 549 add-on control surface that I use to speed up my Final Cut Pro X production work. Loupedeck, a Helsinki-based company, sent me a device to test.

Not just for Final Cut

To be clear, the Loupedeck CT isn’t just for Final Cut. In addition to Final Cut Pro X, it comes with profiles for Ableton Live, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Illustrator, Capture One Pro, and OBS Studio.

With the Loupedeck control panel and the included programming software, you can also add your own profiles.

I am an active Photoshop and Illustrator user. I have decades of muscle memory for both of these applications. Specifically, I rarely spend more than an hour or so per project in Photoshop, but I can spend weeks in Final Cut at a time. As such, I only tested the Loupedeck with Final Cut, and this review is primarily aimed at Final Cut editors.

Loupedeck CT equipment

In many ways, the Loupedeck CT seems to be the big brother of the Elgato Stream Deck, which I also use with Final Cut. Like the Stream Deck, the Loupedeck CT offers a series of programmable buttons with button caps that you can customize via profiles. But the Loupedeck adds additional dials and buttons that the Stream Deck doesn’t have.

In my opinion, the Stream Deck (which was originally designed for Twitch streaming players) does buttons much better than the Loupedeck, but the added value of the dials should not be underestimated. I’ll talk about the dials first, then come back (pun intended only partially) to the buttons later.


You can clearly see the dials and the Ferris wheel. Note the screen inside the wheel.

Image: Loupedeck

The device itself measures 160 x 150 mm (6.3 x 5.9 inches), which is roughly the size of a paperback book. It has three small dials on either side of its range of customizable buttons and a single larger wheel in the middle, below the buttons.

The Loupedeck automatically changes profile when you change programs. Once inside a program, you can create workspaces. So even though there are only six dials, you can give them a lot to control. I set up a color correction workspace, with the dials set to handle red, green, blue, as well as saturation and a few other controls. In another workspace, I adjusted the dials to control the X and Y position on the screen, scaling and rotation.

But by far my favorite feature – and that alone makes the Loupedeck worth it – is the ability to program the wheel for different functions. There is a round touchscreen in the middle of the wheel which you can use to change modes. I adjusted the dial to move the entire timeline left or right, or move my edit pointer on the timeline.

It took a few tries to get it to work (to move the timeline you want to set the wheel to “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal”), but once I dialed it (see what I did there? ), the experience was sublime.

I am constantly on the move in the timeline. The ability to have a nice analog dial to control it is reminiscent of old-fashioned video editing on tape and is very convenient. Using the Loupedeck’s programmable wheels, I can move very quickly to exactly where I want to be on the timeline, move my edit point, and zoom in and out.

It’s a very organic experience.


Image: Elgato

What’s not so organic are the pimples. Unlike the Stream Deck, which you mechanically press like you do on a keyboard, the Loupedeck’s buttons are touch-sensitive with a bit of oddly out-of-sync haptic feedback. I found that the buttons on the Loupedeck did not always respond as expected. Anti-rebound requires a bit of work, as buttons pressed once would sometimes perform their action twice.

In addition, the Stream Deck allows you to put the graphics you want on the buttons. The Loupedeck allows you to change the text of the macro buttons, but it’s not as flexible for the predefined actions. And forget about having custom graphics for each button, because that just doesn’t happen.

There are also a few physical buttons that work quite well. The downside is that you can’t reprogram what is displayed on the physical button keys. Unfortunately, these keys are labeled with Save, Tab, Undo, an image of a keyboard, a green circle, and other labels that are relevant for a keyboard, but not as relevant for video production.

Loupedeck software

The software, at least on Macs, lives in the menu bar. When I first opened it the font was ridiculously, ridiculously small. But you can resize the window to make the font bigger and much more readable.

Loupedeck configuration software is no better or worse than any other key automation product. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right option. For example, my first attempt to control the jog wheel the way I wanted it involved a foray into trying “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal + Shift”, which resulted in my entire machine stalling until I cleared manually the Shift key. The correct solution was the “Mouse Wheel: Horizontal” parameter, which I finally found after a few unsuccessful attempts.

A nice addition to the software is a macro capability. You can chain together long sets of commands, so that a single keystroke can perform a whole sequence of actions.

My recommendation

After using a few 15-key Stream Decks for a few years and the Loupedeck CT for a few months, I’ve come to some conclusions. Both are wired devices and connect via USB Type-A connections.

The basic 15-key Stream Deck costs $ 149, when in stock. Amazon struggles to keep them in stock, but they always seem to have new inventory. Elgato also offers a 32-key version for $ 249.

The Loupedeck CT costs $ 549, considerably more than the two Stream Decks. In fact, you could get two of the larger Stream Decks or three of the smaller size, all still under the cost of a single Loupedeck CT.

But, the Loupedeck CT has 12 keys that will take custom labels and another 20 that won’t take custom labels, but can be programmed to perform custom actions. The Loupedeck also has six dials and a large wheel with its own customizable display.

However, the button action and full graphical customization features of the Stream Deck are far better than the buttons on the Loupedeck CT. If you don’t care about the dials or the wheel, get the Stream Deck. There is almost no comparison.

On the other hand, if you want the dials and dial (and, like I said, when they’re well integrated into Final Cut, they’re life-changing), then the Loupedeck CT is well worth the money. I can’t tell you exactly how much time I saved using the Loupedeck, but I can tell you that my overall Final Cut productivity has increased significantly as timeline navigation is now smooth, very responsive, and almost instantaneous.

So this is it. If you know you want the dials and the wheel, then the Loupedeck CT is a great choice. If you just want keys, Stream Decks can’t be beat. I use two Stream Decks and the Loupedeck CT on my editing machine, and this combination – although expensive – greatly improves productivity. Now that I’m using all of those extra control surfaces, I don’t think I would want to go back to a basic keyboard and mouse.

And you? What tricks do you use to get the most out of your video editing? Are you rooted in Final Cut? Are you a premiere guru? Did you make the jump to Resolve? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow the news of my project day by day on social networks. Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.


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