Over Christmas, I was lucky enough to receive the Griffin Powermate from a relative. A co-worker (a video editing guy) uses one with Final Cut and it really is impressive. An infinite-turn knob with a smooth response, he can easily scrub through video of any length at both high and low speeds and easily set markers, make selections and cuts all from the knob. It’s an impressive piece of kit. From their website:
PowerMate functions beautifully as a convenient volume knob and mute button for music listening on your PC or Mac. But that’s just the beginning of PowerMate’s possibilities. Edit movies just like the pros with PowerMate functioning as your very own Jog/Shuttle wheel. PowerMate makes editing a breeze, anything from home movies to your next demo. It even comes preset to work with iMovie, FinalCut Pro and GarageBand, right out of the box!
If you dig around the internet, you’ll see lots of people using it as just a glorified volume knob. It does that just fine, as I’m able to attest. I hooked it up to my MacBook and loaded their software, and viola it’s a volume knob. With just a few minutes in their software, I also set it up to scroll up and down in Chrome, making it a GREAT addon for use with Google Reader.
However, I really wanted it for use with iMovie. I’m preparing to resurrect the VizWorld Podcast (Yes, you heard that right!) and I’ve bought some kit to help, like the Elgato Turbo264HD encoder (I’ll write this up later, I promise!), and really hoped to use the Griffin Powermate with iMovie. Unfortunately, I’m here to report that it does not work as advertised.
By default, they ship it with a profile for iMovieHD, the old iMovie6. I’m running iMovie10 (haven’t upgraded to iLife11 yet), so I had to create a new profile. No problem, I just copied the iMovieHD profile over and it should work right?
Wrong. Honestly, it’s not entirely Griffin’s fault. Apple has really messed up the iMovie suite since iMovie6 and the Powermate suffers from this. There are no good keystroke combinations for selection (Set Selection Start & Set Selection End), nor are there good keystrokes for moving around in the video. Sure, you can use the arrow keys but that moves at less than realtime. If you setup the Powermate to echo arrow keys it works just great, until you stop turning the knob and iMovie has to flush out the entire keyboard buffer. In my tests I quickly turned the knob to fast forward through the video and got to exactly where I wanted in under 2 seconds, but then I had to wait another 30 seconds while it kept fast forwarding way past where I wanted. I then tried mapping it to mouse left & right, which you can do easily in their software. Unfortunately, Apple is a bit inconsistent in how they treat this. If you click & drag, then moving right and left will automatically also wraparound and move up and down to the next or previous “line” of track. Unfortunately, click and drag isn’t available in the Powermate GUI, and just left and right work as you’ld expect.
So in short, I’m finding far less utility in the PowerMate than I had hoped. I can’t find anyone else online reporting similar experiences, which leads me to believe either a) I’m doing something wrong, or b) Nobody is using iMovie with a Powermate. I suspect it’s more B. I have found people reporting similar problems with the PowerMate & GarageBand, like this forum thread on how it doesn’t do Scrubbing.
Nonetheless, I’ve submitted a ticket with Griffin Support (of which the first response was a useless cut-n-paste about lowering keyboard repeat rate, *sigh*) and I’ll update if anything changes. I honestly doubt they’ll suddenly release a new version of their software that fixes this, but it seems dishonest for them to report it “comes preset to work with iMovie & GarageBand” when apparently the last time they tested that was 4 years ago.
So, anyone out there using the Powermate? How do you like it?