If you're in any job long enough, you're bound to come across quirky industry developments that just might help your work flow. Photography is no different. What's this you might ask? At first glance it might seem like a video game controller with a cleverly placed sticker on it. At first glance, you're kind of right.
This little contraption comes from the new project seen over at cullinator.com. The idea is to ease your work flow in Lightroom and Photomechanic. When it comes to weddings or portraits, photographers end up spending a ton of time sifting through their images and figuring out which to keep and which not to. Usually this involves sitting in front of your computer for several hours at a time, hands mashed on the directional keys and whatever keys you use to rate your pictures.
To save you from hours of poor uncomfortable posture and the mundane tapping of keys, the guys over at Cullinator customized some software that allow any USB connected video game controller to be your new culling tool. The idea is to put something in your hands that's a little more ergonomic and intuitive than a keyboard.
I received my Cullinator controller at WPPI directly from the Cullinator crew. The website sells controllers for $50 along with the cost of the program. I'm fairly familiar with most video games and have to say the controller doesn't seem to be particularly special at all. Although the one I received has a very cool yellow sticker that shows off the awesome program you're using, I'm fairly certain any USB Mac compatible controller could be used with the software.
When the system comes to being Mac compatible, that's currently one huge draw back for anyone who might be interested in changing up their workflow. As it stands, the software can only be used on mac systems versions OSX 10.7-10.8.2. If you have another version of OSX, sorry. PC users, you're out for now as well. We'll see if there are any changes in the future.
Downloading and using the program is extremely easy. Once you've downloaded it, there is a simple installation procedure to go through. After installation, a Cullinator icon appears which allows you to access the controller settings at any time. Before you are able to use the controller to edit any photos, you must manually input what keys you want to match with which buttons. This process is fairly intuitive. With the settings options open, all you need to do is hit a button on a controller and then hit the corresponding key on your keyboard. The action of the key is then synced to the button on the controller. Really, you can choose any button and key combination you would like to cull with. Obviously the arrow keys are your first to be set, but whether you want other buttons to assign colors, numbers or flags is completely up to you.
Using the controller does actually seem to make culling go faster and take some of the "work" out of your work. The controller is comfortable to hold. If you assign buttons where your fingers naturally hold the controller, it's easy to edit in any posture. That means if you want to lounge on your bed or do jumping jacks while you sort through images, you can. If you'd prefer to edit only using one hand, that's possible too. The quick access to any button allows you to flip through pictures and assign values at a pace equal to your keyboard if not quicker.
Unfortunately, this magical device is not the cure all for editing boredom. As of now, it's strictly limited to the library module and wont really help you out with any develop settings. The website does have rumors of an upgrade which will be released April 10th which will allow the controller to influence the develop module as well. Though the system does seem to take some stress out of the culling process, the additional access to the editing portion of Lightroom could make the Cullinator far more attractive.