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WacomTablet.pngIf I've not sold you on these things - and I swear I'm not a shill - I imagine some of the examples later in the series will.  So let me just get it out now: my advice on choosing a tablet if you decide you want one.  I'm no professional tablet man, so take my advice for what it is - just one video guy talking to another.

There are a handful of companies making tablet products, but the long-time industry leader is Wacom.  Their hardware doesn't require much TLC, it's packed to the gills with productivity features, it plays nicely with a whole array of input devices, and it will outlive you.  Well, maybe not you, but it will outlive, say, your pet ferret.  Having played with friends' off-brand tablets, and felt how heavy pens can get with batteries in them, and been annoyed by their strange calibrations, I think I'd definitely stay brand-loyal if I were to buy another.


Wacom ships its tablets with some lightweight proprietary software that adds on to your Control Panel in Windows or your System Preferences on Mac.  It's completely stable on both platforms, in my experience.

Graphics tablets come in a variety of sizes, and I've felt glad to have a fairly large one (9"x12") when I'm working in applications with complex interfaces, like Final Cut, Avid, and After Effects.  The larger size lets me have more precise control when I'm trying to hit tiny effects controls, and, being a Wacom tablet, it allows me to split the tablet into a big rectangle for precise pointing and a small rectangle for quicker navigation (like, say, dragging clips across the whole screen).  Switching between the two becomes natural quickly.

You can worry about things like pressure sensitivity and pen resolution, but those are really not so relevant to the work that we do as basic film editors.  Again, if you're doing any kind of photo correction or advanced effect compositing, you should assess for yourself whether your needs are closer to those of an artiste than us slice-and-drop kinds of folks - but for most needs, anything Wacom has to offer is more than enough.

Whatever you do, browse Ebay and similar second-hand outfits for tablets before buying them outright.  Like I said, hardware - at least the Wacom hardware I'm familiar with - lasts forever and a day in this market.  By buying off of a photographer who's upgrading to the newest technology, for example, you stand to save hundreds of dollars on tablet hardware that's still perfectly good.
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