The recent update to the Duet iOS app gave it Touch Bar functions like the new MacBook Pro. We asked Chris Roberts to see how it worked with FCPX.

Regular FCP.co readers will be aware that a little while ago we ran an article on using the new MacBook Pro’s Touchbar with Final Cut Pro. So, when one of our producers got in touch to say that the screen-mirroring app Duet now had Touch Bar support for non-Touch Bar enabled Macs, we just had to test it out for editing.

As well as reviewing the Touch Bar back in November 2016, we also took a look at Duet way back in December 2014. Duet is an iOS app that lets you connect your Mac to your iPad or iPhone and use that device as a second screen. It works remarkably well and, considering that the iOS app is currently on offer on the app store at 50% discount (£7.99 / $9.99), it’s a great opportunity to begin exploring what the Touch Bar offers without the price tag of a new MacBook Pro (providing you’ve got an iPad available of course).

NB: Another option for exploring the Touch Bar with non-Touch Bar Macs is Touché by Red Sweater Software, but this adds a Touch Bar over your current display and has to be activated using a mouse. Nevertheless, it does give you a taste for what the Touch Bar looks like for free.

To get Duet to display the Touch Bar you’ll need the app running on your iOS device, connected to your Mac running the free Duet desktop application. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve updated your Mac to macOS Sierra 10.12.2. Once you’re up and running you can customise the “secondary display” through System Preferences as if it was a regular monitor.

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You can also adjust these options further in the Duet menubar icon - and it’s here that you’ll discover the option to enable Touch Bar.

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Once this is turned on, you’re up and running with the Touch Bar appearing at the bottom of the iPad screen.

I have to say that, having spent a little time with the 15” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, it’s very cool to see that this Duet-enabled version of it seems to respond just like the real thing; changing as you switch applications, offering suggestions and other options. Very cool indeed.

You can even customise your Duet-Touch Bar as you would with the real thing too; though it take a few moments for the edit window to appear and you have to counter-intuitively drag the icons down towards your keyboard to add them to the Touch Bar on the secondary display - but it does work.

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Ok, so what of using this with Final Cut Pro?

Well, as our previous article went through all the options available, I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I’ll just say that, as expected, all those options are here and with the added bonus that you can use the secondary monitor as additional editing real-estate for displaying your viewer, browser or timeline - and on my iPad Pro 9.7” it’s remarkably responsive.

It’s probably worth spending some time playing with where you’re best positioning your iPad - I found raising my iPad in line with the top of the laptop screen with a complex assortment of text books helped me get my eyeline right. It’s also worth bearing in mind that to get the most out of the Touch Bar it should be within easy reach.

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The fact is that it’s not as natural to use as the actual Touch Bar. Here you have to consciously disengage your hands from your keyboard or mouse to engage with the Touch Bar on the iPad, whereas from my experience with the new MacBook Pro it was much more of a natural thing just to tap the bar that sits between the keyboard and screen. Though if you were using this with an iMac, maybe a setup similar to that pictured below might be worth considering?

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All in all, this might be a bit of fun for now. True, we still can’t edit the Touch Bar for use within Final Cut Pro, but more and more professional applications such as Photoshop and DaVinci Resolve are also adding Touch Bar support.

Back in November I think I was a little lukewarm towards what the Touch Bar can currently offer, however the more I’ve played with it the more I find myself using it with the icons often providing a more visual prompt that “learning” a keyboard shortcut ever does. So, here’s a great opportunity for everyone with a Mac and an iOS device to explore the potential of using the Touch Bar before the big jobs for 2017 begin rolling in and you consider purchasing that all new MacBook Pro.

 

C Roberts headshot

Chris Roberts is a freelance video producer, editor and trainer specialising in working with Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro CC. Apart from contributing to FCP.co, his greatest claim to fame is that he was at university with Matt Lucas.