Heads Up Displays
Many of the new Apple applications employ what the company calls “heads up displays.” These are control panels that are translucent and appear over the image you’re working on, fading in and out as needed. You can see them in iPhoto, Aperture, Motion and Quicktime. They look cool, but more important, they’re functional, because they let you do useful work on a full-sized image. They’re particularly helpful for small (ie. laptop) displays, where screen real estate is at a premium.
As I use my laptop more and more for cutting, I’m starting to see how valuable such displays could be in a mobile editing environment.
Because, in the laptop environment, the Media Composer definitely has some rough edges. When I’m working with the laptop itself, I want one window layout. But when I plug in to a bigger monitor and use the laptop screen as a bin monitor, I want another. The MC can handle this, but it takes a lot of fiddling around. And even when you have your workspaces all set up the way you want them, the system often does the wrong thing.
In general, the MC needs some tweaking around the issue of window activation. For example, when I double-click on a sequence I want the Composer window and the Timeline to activate and move forward. But now, only the Composer window does so. I also want the ability to quickly tab from bin to bin.
And that leads me back to the subject of heads up displays. How about this? Wouldn’t it be nice to work in full screen mode (video playing full screen) — but with a translucent timeline supered over it? The timeline (and maybe the editing controls from the bottom of the composer window — what Avid calls the ‘mini–composer’) would appear when you move the mouse, and they’d disappear when video plays for a moment. That sure would make for a slick, small-screen editing environment.
Heads up displays would also be great in a redesigned full screen title tool, much as they now allow for full screen editing in iPhoto.
What else could you do with this kind of interface?