Sunday, January 11, 2009

Multitouch Video Editing App

Here's a nice video from a student at University of Hasselt in Belgium. I like that they are looking to solve a complex task and deal with mode changes.

While the video shows a range of interesting gesture and controller concepts, it would really benefit from four things:

- Marrying Content to the Controllers
It is generally faster and easier to use controllers that are either embedded in or associated with the relevant content.

- Afford What the Content and Controllers Do

The way objects animate into existence tells users a lot about how to use them.

- Finding Ways to Order Content by Relevance

It would be incredibly easy to get lost in a video production project of greater complexity than the one shown.

- Putting a "Right Click" Context Menu at Users Fingertips

It would be much faster to have a "quick menu" that would pop up based on a gesture than to continually drag down to the menubar at the bottom to change tools and modes. BTW. Solutions like this really only work with expert systems and should be redundant to visible controllers.

What do you think?


  1. I really like the general feel of this application. The expansion and contraction of the video clips seems very natural, although if I'm trying to be extremely precise (down to the frame level) it seems like I'd have to expand a long clip far beyond what would be comfortable. In a standard program I could just click zoom a few times, or use a zoom bracket tool once or twice. I would experiment with a way to zoom to frames inline, maybe touch a location on the main clip and a zoomed clip segment of +- 2 seconds shows somehow.

    Also I liked when he put two fingers down and it became scissors and then he cut a clip.

    The dragging from one object to another, particularly applying the image filters (gamma correction?) to a clip seemed a bit odd. If I change something on a picture in real life, I don't make the change on a separate paper then drop the paper onto my picture. (If I were adding layers that might make sense though.) Some more direct method would be better, marrying the content and controllers as you said, but this is a very good start.

    BTW any context menus need to be quick to activate -- no hold gestures -- so an advanced user can get quicker and quicker. Eventually navigating the context menu (maybe a circular menu around a two finger tap gesture) will become like a single gesture not needing the menu, but beginning users will still have the menu to look at.

  2. @ Josh

    Two finger tap gestures are subject to a lot of false hits.

    Josh is right though. One really natural gesture is holding down the index and for finger for ~300-500ms. This is long enough to define intent and to make sure it's not a false hit...without feeling like a touch and hold gesture.

    Longer Touch and hold gestures can actually be very successful. They run into two major issues, though:
    1. They are difficult to discover.
    2. It is difficult for users to know if their gesture isn't working because because:
    - They are touching the wrong pixels
    - They haven't held the gesture long enough
    - The friggin' 'puter ain't workin'

  3. This is where good paper & plastic prototyping could prove to be useful.

    It got me thinking about something I reviewed for a past HCI class that had a social networking component, I think.

    Are you familiar with the Dynamo project? (I think that at least one of the people involved in the project now works at Microsoft)
    Here is something I posted about the application, with a few links:

    I just spent an hour over the phone with my 79-year dad trying to explain to him how to do a few basic things on Facebook, like find my nephew's wall, how to write on the wall, and how to post what he'd written.

    He wanted to look at pictures, too.

    How could surface computing make this much easier for my dad?

    (Take a look at the FaceBook interface and imagine that you have no prior experience interacting with a browser.)

    By the way, I have an HP TouchSmart, and I can't navigate through much on FaceBook via touch. We need web browsers to be optimized for touch/gestures, just as many are now optimized for mobile devices.