Pinnacle Studio 17 Ultimate review

Price when reviewed

Pinnacle Studio was a major player in the early days of PC video editing, often coming preinstalled on new PCs and bundled with Pinnacle’s capture hardware. However, it wasn’t until a buyout by Avid in 2005 that Studio’s chronic reliability issues began to dissipate. In 2011, it was rebranded, and it changed owners again in 2012, this time to Corel.

Version 17 is the second edition under Corel, and installing it reminded us of how far it has come. The Ultimate edition we tested comes packed with extras; its timeline is straightforward and responsive to navigate; and media, effects, transitions and other assets are well organised.

Pinnacle Studio 17 Ultimate

The effects and template libraries are no longer littered with chargeable extra content. Instead, Studio 17 Ultimate includes some of the best effects of any consumer editor. The highlight is the Red Giant Filmmaker Toolkit, a suite of three effects that deliver sophisticated colour-grading treatments. Other consumer editors claim to provide film-look effects, but the quality available here is in another league.

A key new feature of Studio 17 Ultimate is support for 4K video. We imported 4K footage from a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition, and the software had no problem dropping them onto the timeline. Preview performance on our Core i7-870 PC was unacceptably poor, however, with lots of dropped frames and long waits when navigating the timeline.

Pinnacle Studio 17 Ultimate

These problems disappeared once the software’s Playback Optimisation function kicked in, responsible for generating lower-resolution proxies of the timeline’s contents. This process took about twice as long to generate as the footage length. It’s also important to note that Pinnacle’s system develops proxy files for the timeline, not the raw footage. It’s able to reuse the same proxy files when trimming or reordering clips, but applying or adjusting effects and overlaying text or graphics requires the proxy file for that section to be rebuilt from scratch. This can take a heavy toll on progress, especially when making subtle tweaks to processor-intensive effects.

It isn’t a patch on Sony Movie Studio 13 Platinum when it comes to handling 4K media: Sony’s software can convert 4K media on import and render sections of the timeline on demand. More significantly, it was able to play raw GH4 4K footage on our test PC without dropping frames.

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