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Tools I Can’t Work Without: Contour Shuttle Pro v2


When I started Planet V in 1995, the shift toward Mac-based DAWs was already underway. Prior to that, I had been using Solid State Logic's Screensound and Scenaria systems- which were way ahead of their time. Mark of the Unicorn's (MOTU's) Performer software was already my weapon of choice for music creation via MIDI, but when it became Digital Performer and incorporated audio recording and mixing, it was time for a change!


MOTU rolled out some great hardware, and I grabbed what I needed right away. Audio interfaces, MIDI Time Piece 2, video interface and sync, etc. Hot keys, or macros, were critical early on. MOTU Digital Performer allowed you to assign any key to any task. But when I was at a MacWorld Expo in NYC one year, this little gadget from Contour caught my eye. I purchased it and got going with it immediately. It was a fully assignable jog/ shuttle wheel with lots of buttons. I assigned them to play, record, delete, and many other often used commands. Coming from Screensound, I was already using a Wacom tablet for audio editing. I still do! Having the Contour with it sped things up a lot.


Contour Shuttle Pro Recording Studio Frank Verderosa
Frank Verderosa in the early Planet V days with SSL Screensound


Since Screensound was a proprietary system, I had to slowly migrate jobs over to Mac and overhaul my workflow. At one point, I had dueling systems in the room with Screensound in front of me, and an assistant simultaneously running a Mac system in the back of the room to make sure it could keep up. Once we were convinced, we made the shift. MOTU Digital Performer was at the center of Planet V for years, and to this day it has features that Pro Tools doesn't.


Contour Shuttle Pro Recording Studio Frank Verderosa
Kampo Studio B- the original home of Planet V, with SSL Screensound

In 2004, the industry had shifted and I needed to make a decision: purchase a lot of expensive gear to keep up, or take a position at a studio that already had everything in place. I decided that I loved sound designing and mixing and didn't love paperwork and running a business. It was time to say goodbye to Planet V and hello to Nutmeg. But there was a catch.! Their entire facility was on Pro Tools, and I hadn't used it before.



Contour Shuttle Pro Recording Studio Frank Verderosa
Frank Verderosa in Nutmeg's Studio B, 2004

On my first day in the new position, I sat down with the studio's tech and came up with a plan. If you've played with enough DAWs, you know that they all get you to the same place (more or less), but the functions and locations of things change. So I took the Contour Shuttle and worked to make sure the buttons I was used to mapped to the same functions in Pro Tools. This allowed me to hit the ground running.


Contour Shuttle Pro Recording Studio Frank Verderosa
Frank's Home Studio- with the Contour Shuttle Pro v2 just to the right of the keyboard STILL

While most Pro Tools engineers have relied on variations of the Kensington Trackball since day one, I was never able to embrace it. Maybe because I'm a lefty? I still prefer a mouse, tablet and contour- and of course tactile fader control surfaces.


But that's another story.




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