First Look: Tangent Element

Say Hello to the 'Tangent Element' Colorist Control Surface

The ‘Tangent Element’ is the newest colorist control surface on the market and just started shipping about 3 weeks ago.

The Tao of Color visited our good friends at The Studio – B & H,  the professional video division located inside B & H Photo in New York City, to get our hands on this surface and give it a test drive in DaVinci Resolve.

The Studio-B&H’s Michel Suissa and Tao of Color’s Patrick Inhofer also offer up some buying advice.


UPDATE 1: I’ve been informed that for DaVinci Resolve, the Buttons panel (Bt) and the Knobs panel (Kb) must be purchased together. One panel won’t work without being paired with the other panel.


Topics covered include:

  • Physical size versus the Tangent Wave
  • Portability
  • Functionality vs. Wave in DaVinci Resolve
  • Live demo – with DaVinci Resolve
  • Overall Impressions
  • Buying advice for Resolve colorists
  • Buying advice for Scratch ad Scratch Lab colorists

If you want to buy the Tangent Element, scroll down below the video and click on the banner. Your price stays the same but you’ll be supporting this website.

• And here’s the Tangent Element homepage

• If you haven’t already, check out and subscribe to the internet’s best darn (mostly) weekly Color Grading newsletter.

Comments are open. Feel free to let us know what you think of the Element or if you have any other questions you’d like answered.




Related Posts (automatically generated)

FTC Disclosure
Tao of Color is part of the DaVinci Resolve Beta team but purchased Resolve at full retail price and has not received compensation, goods, or services from any 3rd Party mentioned in this post. We hope, one day, this might change. Affiliate links are used throughout this website, sometimes resulting in a commission on sales (which helps support but without raising the price you pay by one cent.

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  1. Juan Salvo April 5, 2012 at 11:57 PM #

    Looks way better than the way. All of that display real estate really seems to pay off. Looks like the closest thing to the full size BMD panels in the third party world.

    • Juan Salvo April 5, 2012 at 11:58 PM #

      Way = wave. iOS autocorrect

  2. iamcolorist April 6, 2012 at 3:24 PM #

    Hey Pat !

    My question are:

    how is the transport well and the ball what is does ?

    dont you think in the tk and kb panels can use better the space, I think there is some buttons and knobs useless.

    Where are the memory buttons ?

    can you move into tabs, viewer to color ?

    would you change your jl cooper for the element ?

    • Patrick Inhofer April 7, 2012 at 8:46 AM #


      All good questions.

      Just to be clear – and I know you grok this but I want to be crystal clear – every app that supports the Element will have different functionality. What we’re discussing here is how BlackMagic has programmed the Element to work with Resolve.

      RE: Transport Panel and Transports Trackball / Ring – I like the transport panel. I realized during editing that I hadn’t tried to use its trackball in Resolve. If you read the PDF from Resolve about the Element – the ‘Multifunction Panel’ isn’t programmed for the Trackball / Ring. Too bad. Missed opportunity to give us additional functionality over the Wave.

      RE: Programming of TK and KB panels – Upon further reflection (this is a First Look and you were getting my first impression) there is a lot of missed opportunity in the programming of the Element. Lots of blank spaces. I was excited at how easy it to use this panel if you’re coming from a Wave. But as I was editing this video I was disappointed that the Wave was essentially grafted on this setup and no consideration was given to extending the functionality since there are so many extra buttons and knobs.

      RE: Moving between Tabs and Sub-Tabs – Not that I could find. I think the Tracking buttons move you into the Tracking Tab,.. and then selecting a Primary or Secondary function will move you back into the Color Tab. But that’s it.

      RE: JL Cooper vs Element – Nope. Given a choice I’d still grade on the JL Cooper. The Eclipse has more functionality. BUT – I think the JL Cooper Eclipse is over-priced and the only colorists who can eek out its full value are the ones grading 3 weeks a month. In other words, the JL Cooper is for power users only. There’s a ton of memorizing to do on that panel and if you’re not working on it full time you’ll never get everything you can out of that panel… which is why at $7k I can’t recommend it (but at $4.5k… I’d sing a different tune).

      RE: Memory Buttons – Good catch! They’re not there. It would be easy enough to implement… just add another Menu.

      Good questions.

      – patrick

  3. soufian ratib December 25, 2012 at 5:00 PM #

    I got the 3 knobs Element Tk. But it wont work on Resolve 9. Is that because I must buy the 2 other panels as well ??  Thanks

    • Patrick Inhofer December 27, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

      Resolve should work with just the TK panel. Be sure you select the Element control surface in Resolve’s preferences.

  4. Bryan Papierski April 19, 2013 at 2:59 PM #

    can i get the track ball to work on the Mf as a track ball for all programs? if not what does it do right now? im on a mac

    • Patrick Inhofer April 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM #

      Huh. You mean use it as a trackball in place of a mouse? With right- and middle-click functionality?

      I haven’t heard of it being used that way. There is no system panel to enable that functionality – like you’d get on a Kensington trackball.

      I’m thinking not… unless an app specifically programs the MF trackball to act that way. But not at the Finder level. Cool feature request.

      BTW – I recently posted a follow-up over here:

      But you’ll need to sign up for MixingLight’s Test Drive to read the whole thing…

  5. Stephen McNutt May 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM #

    Once again…not sure it got through… something about my first born child.
    I just unboxed the Element. It feels great and I like the config possibilities. I am however not seeing the 2nd window above the track ball on the Mf panel Light up when I’m grading. It lights up in synapse but otherwise it’s darker the the nun that taught me in 3rd grade. Also B&H say that the Mf trackball is to act as a mouse. So far the shuttle works fine but the ball seems oddly useless. Am I missing something?

    • Patrick Inhofer May 14, 2014 at 12:28 PM #

      What app are you using it with? In Resolve it doesn’t light up for me either. Nothing is mapped there. In SpeedGrade it does light up and has some nifty functionality.

      RE: 4th trackball as mouse – Again, I’m assuming you’re talking Resolve? I’ve never tested it. I don’t like the trackball as mouse on the $30k Resolve panels so I’ve not tried it on the Element.

  6. Stephen McNutt May 15, 2014 at 9:17 AM #

    Yes I ‘m using Resolve. So far the Panel is outstanding.


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