Steinberg CMC Modular Controllers

Posted by Scott

Those of you familiar with midi controller surfaces will know that, by in large, the product design associated with them leaves much to be desired. They are usually garish, overstated affairs seemingly designed to catch the eye of 18 year old ravers passing through Guitar Center. So I was pretty surprised when I saw the new line of Cubase control surfaces from Steinberg. The CMC line of modular controllers allow you to build a control surface using only the modules you deem necessary to your workflow. They even offer a frame to hold up to four modules of your choosing.

Of course, upon seeing these I was immediately reminded of the question I have been asking myself for years: why don’t we as Photoshop users have a system like this? There is something that comes close; the Avid Artist Color, but it isn’t compatible with Photoshop. Can you imagine having a modular system like the CMC that you could customize to run actions, edit color on the fly, manipulate images? Perhaps I’m being a little presumptuous, but I would think a lot of Photoshop users (and creatives in general) could benefit from an open standard for controlling software like Photoshop, Lightroom, and After Effects. The funny thing is that the standard exists already in MIDI, Adobe just needs to implement it and allow us to map controls to functions within their software. I guess after working with music software for so long and having hardware control surfaces as a given, it’s hard to understand why they’ve never made the leap to the world of visual production.

Would you use a hardware controller to work with Photoshop?

Also, here’s a pretty annoying video detailing the CMC system:

14 Comments Leave A Comment


Mike says:

November 1, 2011 at 10:47 am

i completely agree about an open control protocol for visual software. would be great if i could put it in my bag after doing a ton of photoshop and then bring it home and plug into my daw.



Eric Carl says:

November 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

These look great. I was thinking about a modular hardware interface for Adobe products recently. I was imagining a surface comparable to modular synths (think a Doepfer A-100 for Photoshop control). But I only considered it as some kind of impractical proof of concept, as I’m not sure how much benefit you’d get from dedicated hardware for functions that are already relatively easy to access with a mouse. Especially considering that when software gets updated and changed, your hardware layout may no longer be relevant.

Of course an external touch interface would solve that problem and I think be a really interesting compliment to desktop software. Think something like TouchOSC on an iPad for adjusting, say, Color Balance in Photoshop. Or Navigator for moving around your document. Could be cool!


Ben says:

November 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I would be in FULL support of controllers for PS! I’ve thought the same thing before as well! Coupled with a stylus, a modular control setup would make PS feel more like a creative “instrument” than ever before!


qmotvs says:

November 2, 2011 at 1:09 am

These are nice for Cubase and music, but I already have a keyboard for Photoshop shortcuts. Although it would be nice to adjust knobs instead of sliders.


Telequanta says:

November 4, 2011 at 11:07 am

Cool controllers. Cubase needs dedicated controllers to compete with Ableton + Akai, and Traktor + Native instruments. I think of compact controllers more appropriate for live performance. Does anyone use Cubase live?


Jon says:

November 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I would kill to use hardware like that for photoshop, able to make each key and dial to a different level, saturation, action etc. That would be incredible, and I think adobe would have a lot to benefit from the profits too as I would pay a decent amount for it as well.


Kevin says:

November 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Man, it would be amazing to have hardware such as this for Photoshop,but what is the Avid Artist Color software compatible with? Any one know?


Billy says:

November 11, 2011 at 4:33 am

@ Kevin
the Avid Artist Color is aimed at colorists for the RED cameras and smoke/flame artists in the motion graphic industry. Stuff like that.

I have been using a Griffin Powermate for years now as far as Photoshop peripherals go. It’s just a USB control knob + button that with nice drivers, a rack of 3 would be nice. But really with all the programable buttons and sliders on my tablet, I am not sure I personally need more peripherals. They would look awesome though.