In October 2016, Apple introduced their newly redesigned MacBook Pro. A venerable workhorse among photographers and many other creative professionals. With it’s new design, came the Touch Bar. A much ballyhooed addition, I've found it to be a useful addition to my workflows. Its been 280+ days since it’s introduction and it’s continued absence from Phase One’s Capture One Pro is a disappointing gap in my workflow and I thought it would be fun to think what could be.
So whats a Touch Bar? Apple would say it’s a way to bring some of the strengths of iOS’s virtual keyboard to the Mac. Allowing applications to surface shortcuts, tools, or provide more interaction through touch. In some ways this enables an even more keyboard focused usage. It’s a 2170x60 strip of multitouch glass that replaces the standard hardware Function keys and Mac’s multimedia keys. Apple has built in support for macOS’s stock apps, and allowed for a large array of user and developer customization.
That’s where I come in. My trusty 2012 Retina MBP sorely needed to be replaced and so I found myself with a new laptop. After about a year’s usage, I’ve found the Touch Bar to be useful. Not for everything, but in some apps, I’ve found it to be a welcomed addition to my workflow. Of course, in other apps, I’ve found it to be completely useless. (Looking at you Preview.app)
The best Touch Bar interactions are simple ones.
2. Tap and slide.
3. Tap and select.
One of my favorite apps, MindNode, allows for simple yet powerful mind maps. I use it to visualize my camera equipment, annual schedules, portfolio review, etc. It's a terrific app and their simple Touch Bar implementation lets me focus completely on input of ideas.
It might be silly to mention the Finder but it's the life line for Mac users. Since most of what I'm doing on my laptop is creation of photos, moving previews for client review, etc. I've set up the Finder's Touch Bar to be all about view options, new windows, folders, smart folders with selection, move, and share. While this set up does duplicate many of the easiest keyboard shortcuts, I've found it useful.
Preview, what are you doing?! You're actually so close! First, to the best of my knowledge, you can't customize Preview's Touch Bar. That seems like a terrible mistake. The default buttons are rotate left|right, and mirror image. Is that really useful? I think not. What I use Preview for is simple markup tool for images requiring retouching. Except those tools are buried behind two taps or a ton of mouse clicks. I realize my review is unique to my usage, but if Preview simply allowed for customization it would be perfect.
Capture One Pro, Potential
As a photographer, I live in Capture One Pro 10, especially when I’m on location photographing tethered to the laptop. While C1Pro 10 is the best, and certainly Phase’s most stable release yet, a little part of me dies every time I think of the lack of Touch Bar support.
What could be? Let’s start with some assumptions. Currently, the Touch Bar is only available on laptops. It seems like it might be that way for the foreseeable future. Let’s tailor the TB experience more toward a tethering/image management workflow. I certainly don’t want a big button that says “Saturation” and then when touched have it turn into a huge color slider. That would be trivial.
Much of the power in C1P, is in keyboard shortcuts. While I use many of them, I think the added surfacing of features through the Touch Bar might mean less two handed keyboard shortcuts, less right clicking, potentially less window chrome. I often find myself trying to show a client an image and having to hit command+B, command+T just to get them a preview of sufficient size. This is even more true when comparing two images.
1. Fast Toolbar Switching
Aperture(RIP), had a handy shortcut. Tap ‘W’ and it would rotate from Library, Image Info, and Adjustments. It was wildly handy. With C1P there are way more tabs, a more efficient solution might be like a ‘shifter’. Swipe left, swipe right, hold to hit end points.
Also, if you selected an image or images and dragged them over to the toolbar, the Library would spring to the forefront, allowing you to place those images quickly. Phase, implement this.
2. Star Rating —Tap for one Star. Tap and slide for 1-5 stars.
Could have two Star implementations. Tap for one Star. Tap+slide for 1-5 star ranking. People use C1P differently, good to have options.
3. Favorite —Tap for Favorite.
4. Exposure Warnings —Tap for warnings.
5. Color Labels
Yes, currently, you easily hit “-“ for red, and Shift+ for green.
Here’s how I use color labels.
Green - Good, show client.
Blue - Supplemental frame to a green image.
Red - Never show anyone, ever. Eventually Delete.
Orange - Scouted view.
Yellow - Maybe, hold on to.
I mostly use the top three. I think we can do better, a Color Label slider that expands to five colors is dead simple, and fast. Often assistants are running the laptop, it would be nice to surface that.
6. Create LCC —Tap, create LCC
Often, I’ll make a frame as basically a digital proof. If it looks good, the process starts from there. Sometimes the first step is making a LCC, then actual images, etc. Sometime it happens in reverse. Either way, an easy LCC creator would be great. If there was a way to make it so the selected LCC would apply to other images selected by tapping the same Touch Bar icon, that would be amazing and get rid of any need for right clicking.
7. Send to Selects
I usually sort my Sessions through color labels, but I presume some folks use the Selects folder.
8. Sort || Filter
Only Color "X"
9. "Action" w/ Selected Images
We have Processes, that are user set. Figure out away to allow user actions. examples.
-Send to Photoshop
-Export Slider (WEB | JPEG | TIFF)
10. Copy || Paste Adjustments
11. Show Original
Sometimes when tethering, you'll make certain adjustments just to see an edit or as you move from one image to the next.
12. Image Overlay
For many photographers, they're working with a known end result. Image overlay toggle would be tremendously helpful for them.
13. White Balance Slider
It might seems silly, but if you have a temperature slider and a tint slider, that might be a far more natural way to set white balance while on location.
14. Guides (On/Off)
With a quick tap, you could turn on or off guides. One horizontal, one vertical.
15. Workspace Switcher
If you consider that the Touch Bar is connected to a Workspace, you could have multiple predefined Touch Bar set ups. I don't think that Apple has support for something like this, but it certainly could be a desired usage.
So there it is, a bit too colorful, in need of much refinement, but I truly believe Capture One Pro would be a better product with Touch Bar Support. Make it happen Phase.