Pinnacle Studio 12 review

Price when reviewed

Software version numbers are like dog years. By the time the figure reaches double digits, you expect an application to be well into maturity. However, with version 10 of Studio, Pinnacle swapped the underlying render engine over and this took a little while to bed in. Now that we have Pinnacle Studio 12, previous instabilities have been ironed out. But what else is new?

Pinnacle has divided Studio into multiple pricing levels for some time – you can now get three different bundles. The basic version doesn’t do HD, and it only supports a single video layer so can’t create picture-in-picture or chroma keying effects. These abilities are added with Pinnacle Studio Plus. Above this, the Ultimate bundle consists of Studio Plus 12 alongside premium plug-ins, with a piece of greenscreen material in the box.

If you opt for the basic version of Pinnacle Studio 12, there’s only one major new feature. Despite the lack of extra video layers, you will now be able to create multi-track effects using the new Pinnacle Montage tool. This provides more than 80 templates divided into 11 themes, with up to six positions for adding clips. The designs blend multiple tracks of video into projects ranging from clips moving across a static background to a complete video wall. Simply drag your footage across from the library to the available slots.

However, Pinnacle Montage does have a few rough edges. While you can change the in points of the clips you use by clicking inside each one’s Drop Zone icon and dragging left or right, you can’t apply filters directly. Instead, each clip must be dragged temporarily onto the timeline to add the effects, and then dragged back to its Drop Zone. This is rather unintuitive, and you will need to redo filters from scratch again if you don’t like how things look back in the composite. But the end results of Pinnacle Montage are much more elaborate than most people could achieve with professional software.

The Studio interface has been finely honed over its 12 iterations, and is one of the most intuitive around for an entry-level video editing package. But Pinnacle has made a few minor tweaks here to improve things still further. One of the most useful is the ability to ‘Zoom picture to fill frame’. We’re in a transition period between 4:3 and 16:9 TV, and not every camcorder sticks to the standards either. Right-clicking on a clip on the timeline and selecting the Zoom option eliminates the black boundaries, but it will also crop as necessary, so some of the picture will be lost.

You can also navigate more quickly through media albums by right-clicking and selecting a page number, rather than having to flip through them sequentially.

The audio tools have been improved slightly too. A master control is now available in the audio mixer, so you can tweak overall volume rather than having to change each channel individually. You can also enter numerical dB values for volume, useful for matching levels between different clips recorded in the same conditions. A peak level indicator has been added to each channel as well, and also to the timeline, so you will be warned of audio issues even when the mixer is closed.

There are 27 new titles and 32 new DVD menus. At the output stage, YouTube has been added as an upload option alongside Yahoo! Video. You can export audio on its own, too, in WAV or MP3 format. Flash and 3GP video formats have also been added, making for a pretty comprehensive selection. The output renderer now has the ability to pause if it fills up the disk, so you won’t have to start again after clearing enough drive space. The output mode can even trigger a sound or shut the system down when it’s finished.


Software subcategory Video editing software


Processor requirement 1.8GHz Pentium or equivalent

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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