Pinnacle Studio Plus 10 review
Over the past few years, Pinnacle has been the predator swallowing other digital media creation prey, from miro to Fast and Steinberg. But there’s always a bigger carnivore, and Pinnacle recently met its match in Avid. Virtually synonymous with video editing in professional circles, Avid still lacked consumer influence. So the company bought Pinnacle, and with it the most successful consumer video-editing brand ever, Studio, which has led the market in making video editing simpler for the novice.
Version 10 isn’t just an Avid branding refresh, though. In fact, the consumer products will still keep the Pinnacle name, while Liquid Edition moves over to the Avid nomenclature. Instead, the new version marks a complete replacement of the underlying engine. The guts of the software have been scooped out and replaced by the Liquid Edition real-time renderer. But the interface is similar to previous versions, with just a few aesthetic changes. In fact, if you can remember back to the original Gold Disk Video Director upon which Studio was based, the overall feel still has a lot in common.
So users of recent versions of Studio will have no trouble getting to grips with this upgrade, but they may also wonder what’s new. Primarily, with Liquid Edition underneath, effects can be seen at full quality without the necessity of rendering. The Liquid Edition engine has the added benefit of being able to mix formats on the same timeline, so you could, for example, have DV AVIs and MPEG co-existing. We placed MPEG2 footage from a JVC Everio camcorder over DV using Picture-in-Picture, and Studio didn’t miss a beat.
However, despite allegedly having the same rendering engine, we didn’t find Studio 10 quite as fluid during playback as we’ve come to expect from Liquid Edition. On the one hand, it was possible to play a superimposition track with a Hollywood FX 3D effect over the top of another track, both with more than one filter applied. But playback would occasionally stutter for no apparent reason, even on our dual 3GHz test system: a single 2.4GHz processor is all that’s recommended by Pinnacle.
With Liquid Edition underneath, Studio 10 has a huge amount of editing power and effects to call upon. Other than the real-time performance, the biggest feature brought over is keyframing, allowing you to vary filter settings over the duration of a clip. You can also now scrub audio. A total of 18 new filters have been added too, including luma keying, motion blur, RGB colour balance and lighting control. Five extra VST audio plug-ins have been included as well, including the powerful stereo echo and stereo spread filters.
Pinnacle Studio has a massive library of optional effects – but with one big downside. You have to pay a considerable amount for the additional packs, which cost at least £34 each. If you bought all of them, your £50 editing software would start to weigh in at almost the same cost as Liquid Edition itself. You also need to pay £6 for DivX, MPEG4, Dolby Digital and MP3 output. However, you do get four Hollywood FX packs included in the price, bringing you a lot more flying windows and video mapped onto 3D shapes.
The other main area of enhancement with Pinnacle Studio 10 is in its HDV support, which is again only available in the Plus version. You can capture from JVC and Sony HDV camcorders, which in the UK will primarily mean Sony’s HDR-HC1E. We found capturing from the HC1E worked seamlessly, but editing was disappointing. Unlike Liquid Edition 6.1 and above, Studio 10 really couldn’t mix two streams of HDV in real-time at all, although it could scrub the timeline. We also found that adding a filter caused dropped frames. So although Studio 10 professes to edit HDV, we’d suggest Ulead’s MediaStudio Pro 8 instead for more usable performance.