A Conversation with Aaron Rutten: XOOT Stand Experience
How did you find XOOT?
Chris reached out to me and said “hey I got this really cool stand that connects your Cintiq. I saw that you do reviews. I’m in Bellevue. Do you want to check it out.” We talked a little bit about it and made a plan for me to come check it out and I did.
Can you tell us about your current equipment setup?
As far as the hardware. I use the Cintiq 27QHD touch, that’s my primary drawing device. It also gets used for a lot of other things besides drawing, like video editing and checking email. I have two other displays: a 24 inch computer monitor and a 50-inch HDTV that’s behind my Cintiq. The two extra screens are usually just to put extra windows on, I might have reference images or scripts for my video that I’m recording or maybe other applications while multitasking. I use a desktop computer and have other computers like all–in–one tablets that I‘ll use when I’m out of the office. 99% of the time using the desktop. If we’re going to get into other equipment that I use on a regular basis… I have a Lumix G85 camera. It’s a photography camera but I have it connected through HDMI to my computer. I use an AT4040 condenser microphone running into a hardware mixer and I have some smart lights that I control with Stream Deck which is like a little keypad that can perform shortcuts. So that’s the stuff that I use on a regular basis
Is there anything you would like to improve in your setup?
Screen position is important. A lot of the time I am going in between working on a recording of something to drawing something, then I have to move the microphone and then move the camera out of the way. If there was a way to have things set up better where I could move things less, that would be good. The issue with what I’m using now (the Ergotron arm), if I try to move my screen, it’s probably going to knock my camera over and mess things up quite a bit. That’s because the arm in back just does whatever it wants to do. Having something that’s a bit more stable and predictable would definitely be a benefit.
You've tried the XOOT arm, was it able to solve this problem?
I think so, if don’t try to move the XOOT system itself and I rely only changing the angle of the screen, my camera can stay where it’s at.
There can be these fixed positions for the screen. If I was recording over my shoulder with the Ergotron arm in front of me it’s not in a specific position, it’s just wherever it ends up. With XOOT it’s going to more or less be locked within a fixed range.
In that regard, from the recording standpoint it’s nice to have consistency, but it’s also niceto be able to move to a drawing position and not have to worry about messing up my recording setup.
My first impression of it. It’s definitely a well-built device. I was seeing a lot of stuff on the internet like people telling artists to replace their pen nibs with spaghetti noodles, unofficial brackets to attach a Cintiqs to a stand with acrylic or metal that looks like something that was made in somebody’s basement.
Although Chris’s product is made in a basement, it doesn’t look like it. It’s a very sophisticated device. It looks like you have to actually have knowledge in order to be able to make something like this. It’s not just a piece of metal with some holes drilled into it and some bolts attached. I appreciate that, and it looked like something that I wanted to try myself and to share with other artists who might be interested in a stand
Did you try the Prototype with the screen rotation?
I did, I went to XOOT Central and gave it a spin. The first time that I tried the XOOT, rotation was one of the things I felt was missing. It’s not like I need to rotate my screen all the time, but after talking with Chris, there are people who do use it a lot. Just because I don’t rotate my screen now doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t in the future. It’s not it’s not as convenient as it could be with my current setup, so perhaps that’s the reason why I don’t use it.
The same with multi-touch on the tablet. Cintiqs have had multi-touch for a while, but multi-touch didn’t work well, so I’d end up turning it off because it would glitch out. As it started to become more reliable, I began to use it more. I think rotation would be similar for me. I didn’t get to use rotation in my office to evaluate how much more I might use it, but it’s definitely a nice feature and because the other stands are offering it, I think that’s something that XOOT should offer as well.
Which programs did you try with the XOOT system?
The main program that I used is Corel Painter. I use that for digital painting and illustration. I also use Photoshop and for video editing I use Premiere Pro. I also used a word editing application and web browsers and different things like that. What I use on a regular basis is mainly Corel Painter and Premiere Pro.
Did you see any improvements working with these software while using XOOT?
Comfort is really important, especially when we’re talking about stands. When I’m drawing, I want to have the tablet close to me in a comfortable position because I’m doing something for a really long time. Holding my arm out gets really uncomfortable and starts to hurt your back if you’re not in a good position.
If I’m in one of those situations where I’m drawing and going back and forth between working on a video. I find that I end up not wanting to move my screen with the stand I have now. I’ll sacrifice being in a less than optimal position for either drawing or video editing.
With the XOOT system, it was nice. I had to remember that I could move it because I’m so trained to do things the wrong way. When I did remember, it was nice to just push the screen back and forth effortlessly by grabbing the touch strips. Moving it didn’t feel like a nuisance. And I definitely felt more comfortable and had better posture.
One the downsides was, when it was in my lap it covered my keyboard. Since I use my keyboard a lot, that’s something that I’d have to find a solution for. Like using on-screen keyboard or voice commands.
Are you using a keyboard tray now or is the keyboard on top of your desk?
I do have a keyboard tray. The problem is my desk. As you know I’m a tall dude and my desk is not meant for a tall dude, so I’m already kind of slouching as it is. So posture is really bad at this particular setup. I really wish I didn’t even have the keyboard tray here because it actually takes up more my leg room, It gets a little bit funky because if I scoot in towards the edge of the desk and try to get the XOOT down in my lap or the Ergotron it’s just too crowded down there.
For your workflow, how often are you going back and forth? Say you work on a script then record a little bit then go back again.
I try to be as linear as possible but sometimes you can’t help it , you’ll write the script and then you’ll record the video and you realize something was incorrect and you have to go back and record a piece of the video again. There is some back and forth but normally if I’m going to be working on the video I’m usually just working on the video.
Some things are a combination of the two .Like if I’m recording a video about painting, I have to be in both positions and so there’s part of the process where I have to use a position that’s not optimal . Like when the screen has to be upright and not in a comfortable position because I need to record it from behind . But when I break out into the very specific video editing phase , I’m only going to be doing that. I’m probably not going to return to the painting because it’s already been completed .
My thought at that point, I’ll move the screen and then probably not going to move back and forth every 10 minutes. But even if I’m moving it every hour every couple of hours throughout the day for me the benefit is being able to easily do that. It doesn’t really matter how much I do it the fact that I can do it improves my posture . To me that’s definitely benefit
How is screen stability when using XOOT?
It depends on the position and what you’re doing. Obviously if it’s back away from you and upright, you’re not really touching it, stability is not an issue if. If you get it a bit closer and you’re using touch gestures, navigating, browsing the web and things stability is not an issue. I don’t remember the exact positions of off the top of my head but, there are some positions where it does wobble a little bit when you’re drawing on it. Especially when you get to the edges of the screen.
If I were just drawing on it I could live with that. There is going to be some wobbly on the other stands as well. When I’m recording over my shoulder in time-lapse having a little bit of wobble amplifies when in longer video. It makes the video jitter around so stability really important. What I do with the Ergotron arm is lean it against my desk which makes it pretty stable, it’s still wiggles a little bit but not enough to be super disruptive. When it’s down at a lower position it doesn’t wobble quite as much you know if it’s more in your lap and I were just drawing on it and not really focused on recording I don’t think stability would be an issue. For me in my specific niche of being an artist you also records sometimes over my shoulder I think the stability has room for improvement.
Was anything more difficult while using XOOT?
I mentioned the keyboard and the mouse are less accessible, but there are solutions for that. Aside from that, there are some things, but they’re more trivial. You could say the XOOT is not as portable and it’s heavier than stand I have now. Of course, I’m not I’m not detaching my Ergotron arm and moving it somewhere. But, I do try to think of things not only from my own perspective but from the perspective of how other people might use a product.
How was the setup process for XOOT?
I had a pretty nice guy named Chris come over and install it for me, 😊 so I just I didn’t have to install it. I don’t like to install things, but it didn’t look super-complicated. He slid it onto the desk and tightened a hand screw and that was about it. There were some cables to be connected and that’s within my comfort range. I don’t think I would want to change the Kit myself, that might be more than I could handle, but Chris said that there’s talk of having a the kit attached for you.
Did XOOT help you save time on your daily tasks?
I hadn’t used it long enough to give an opinion on that. It’s hard to say if it would be time-saving. It’s more of a comfort thing rather than a time-saving thing for me. It’s faster to move the XOOT then the Ergotron but if you add up the actual time it wouldn’t be a major time-saving.
How was desk setup? Like with space saving and cable arrangement, that stuff.
All of the cables as far as I remember they’re routed through the arm. There’s the power cable that has to be plugged in. The cable management was nice, it wouldn’t it wouldn’t add any cables to a pre-existing desk setup. I can also route the cables through my Ergotron arm I just chose not to because I was wanted more freedom to be able to move it around.
A far as taking up desk space, it’s on the bulkier side, but if you already have room on your desk to fit a Cintiq, I don’t think it will have negative impact on how much desk space it takes up.
Other than XOOT, what stands have you used?
Ergotron LX and then the Cintiq Ergo (not the most recent but the previous one for the Cintiq 24). I think it’s pretty similar to the newer one just without rotation.
he XOOT system easier to move when it comes three stands?
It moves on its own so in a sense I would say it’s easier. It takes less effort to move. It’s consistent in the positions that you can put it in.
It takes a little bit of effort to guide the Ergotron into place and when I put it into place it’s never in a consistent position. If you make the arm really rigid, it’s harder to move. If you make it looser, it’s easier. I have to have it rigid because I want stability. What I find is that by pushing the Ergotron back, over time it starts to actually push the clamp off of the desk. Then I go back there and look I’m like “Woah that’s barely on there”. If it slides off, the tension could cause it to snap up and who knows what. It’s not going to be good.
I used the official Cintiq stand for a long time, because prior to the 27, I had a Cintiq 24 and used it for quite a while. It wasn’t it wasn’t a bad stand, but it didn’t feel like it moved quite as easily. It wasn’t terribly difficult to move, but having something that kind of glides into place is definitely better.
Each stand has its own pros and cons.
I’d like to end on this, the XOOT system is not going to be the right support system for every artist. As you've experienced it, if someone came up and asked you, “Would the XOOT system be right for me?” What questions would you would ask to help make that decision?
As you know it’s a tricky because a lot of it takes using several different stands to really experience and understand what your needs are. I think it would come down to “how important is it for you to be comfortable while drawing?”. Even if you’re not recording or editing and you’re only drawing, then having something that can go down into your lap, over your keyboard, so you don’t have to move your keyboard out of the way, then you can easily put it back upright, I think that’s a good thing. I think general artists who are doing mostly illustration are going to appreciate being able to easily change positions to be more comfortable.
I think just as well they could get either of the other two stands. It just comes down to whether or not the advantages that XOOT offers, like magnetic braking, fluid motion, and hovering over the keyboard, add any benefits to the digital art experience. I think they do.
If you’re one of those artists who requires different screen positions, working for hours on these different tasks, in sub-optimal positions, is going to destroy your back. I know this from experience. In that case, it’s an easier sell to say, “Yes, you can move your screen back and forth with Ergotron, but, you’re going to have to fight a little bit and it’s never going to be in the exact same position.” If that bothers you, then something with positions that are more predictable could be a benefit.
With the official Cintiq stand, it can do many of the same things as the XOOT, but it’s not quite the same. The XOOT system can more easily slide forward and backward. The magnetic braking is smoother and less effort is required to make adjustments.