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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been a Pinnacle Studio user since version 7 and upgraded through versions 8 and 9 including Plus versions and HFX Pro. I have also used Pinnacle Liquid (their 'professional' NLE) in a home environment and also evaluated it from a professional point of view. I also have experience with professional grade NLEs going back to the early days of Avid MediaComposer and NewsCutter and Lightworks. I always had trouble considering Final Cut Pro to be a truly professional NLE, but I do accept that it is used in the professional arena extensively these days and I have some experience with that as well.

I should point out that I am not a professional editor - though I have at times been called upon to edit on both NLE and old linear systems in my work. I do, however, have some experience supporting FCP.

My view of Pinnacle Studio, then, is principally from a home user point of view but I also have relevant experience over almost 20 years of professional NLE systems as well.

Having dabbled with numerous 'home' editing systems (Adobe Premiere,Cyberlink PowerDirector,Magix Movie Edit Pro and more) I have always come back to Pinnacle Studio as my main tool. I still use CyberLink Power Director for some bits and pieces, mainly particular effects that I render out as an avi to incorporate into a Studio project, but if I were to choose just one package for home use then it would always be Studio.

I still have Sony Vegas on my machine as well, but Magix and Adobe Premiere are long gone and not really missed. Windows MovieMaker and Pinnacle VideoSpin may be freebies, but are only really worth considering for the very simplest of projects - with those you will soon find yourself wanting more. (However, it must be pointed out that you can still produce a `professional looking' project even with the simplest of edit systems. Good footage simply cut together can look just as professional as 90% of what you see on TV. Just sit and watch half an hour of TV and take time to notice how many fancy transitions are used or special effects. Unless you are watching a feature film, the chances are there will be very few things that you can't do with the simplest of editors).

Some reviews here (and elsewhere) suggest that Pinnacle Studio is somehow lacking in features when compared with other similarly priced packages such as Adobe Premiere Elements, but this is simply not true. I guess that this could be a case of an urban myth spreading by word of mouth and reviews and people just assuming it to be the case. Head over to the Adobe Premiere Elements 10 on Amazon and look through the list of features - there's not one thing there that Pinnacle Studio cannot do! The facts speak for themselves

(Pinnacle Studio does not have a 2D to 3D converter or a 3D edit mode like Cyberlink Power Director, but I consider this more of a gimmick than a useful feature. I've tried it and it works - kind of. If you want to edit 3D material then Studio isn't for you (yet?). There are workarounds, but it's a fiddly workflow involving Montage Themes or the PiP feature and keeping two video tracks in sync.

THE UPGRADE ROUTE

Last year I finally took the plunge and upgraded my old version 9 Plus of Studio to version 14 Ultimate Collection. This upgrade included additional RedGiant plug-ins such as Trapcode Shine, Particular and Magic Bullet. These last three are also included in version 15 Ultimate Collection, but not in version 15 Ultimate as reviewed here.

I read in the instructions that plug-ins and content from version 14 would automatically be transferred into version 15 when I installed (there is a content transfer tool for version 11 and 12 content), however this didn't actually work quite as expected. Essentially everything from v14 became available in v15 except for the RedGiant plug-ins.

I bit of fiddling around copying folders from the v14 installation (the two versions install side by side rather than the old version being over-written) got everything back where it should be, however this took a bit of trial and error. A Google search turned up some scripts on the very trustworthy and useful Declic Video website which claim to do the transfer of these plug-ins automatically. I didn't try them, but Declic has always been a useful resource for me in the past for Studio tips and tricks.

NOT PROFESSIONAL vs PROFESSIONAL

I'm afraid I take issue with the fact that people snigger a bit at the Studio interface and claim it is not a professional NLE. For one it is not sold as a professional NLE and has a price tag to reflect that. However, it is a massively capable NLE and its features, especially with Ultimate and Ultimate Collection plug-ins, actually go beyond some versions of so called professional NLE packages. I honestly fail to see why this cannot be considered for at least semi-professional work - certainly the quality of video and audio output is brilliant even on a 92" screen at close range!

The one thing that people often point out as a failing of the Studio series is the limited number of video tracks available on the timeline. While it is true that some other packages allow you to add 'infinite' video tracks I have yet to find a use for this that cannot be achieved by other methods. Studio now comes with what it calls 'Montage Themes' which are editable multi-video templates. Add Hollywood FX to this and you can acheive just about anything. Admittedly some of the supplied Montage Themes templates and some of the Hollywood FX transitions and effects are cheesy beyond belief, but some of them are very usable and withe Studio 15 Ultimate you get the HFX Editor thrown in as well (see below, though).

Colour correction, image stabilisation and other similar tools are present as well and perform pretty well. Even in the professional arena there are differences in the quality of these types of functions. Studio's in-built functionality will be sufficient for all but the most critical of users (and if you opt for the Ultimate Collection package rather than just Ultimate then Magic Bullet takes colour correction to a whole other level).

LOST IN THE EDIT

For those new to Non-Linear Editing, any NLE is going to take a little bit of getting used to. The Studio interface, however, is one of the simplest I have ever come across. Try Windows MovieMaker first and if you can use that then you can use Pinnacle Studio.

From those easy beginning where you just drop clips on the timeline and trim them to the length you want, chopping out the bits you don't want, you can then go on to add transitions and effects as you like to make your project more interesting. Beware here, though, this is where a lot of home movie makers fall down. If you want your project to look professional stick to just one or two fonts for any titles, stick to cuts and the occasional fade transition unless you really need to use anything else, and use any effects sparingly. If you throw too much in there - and there is a lot to choose from in these later versions of Studio - then you will just make your project look amateur. Maybe this is where people get the idea that Studio is not a professional tool - a lot of the content that is bundled is of very limited use because it looks amateurish - you won't find FCP or the professional suites being bundled with transitions that look like the title sequence to 'You've Been Framed'.

ON THE MENU

Creating DVD or BD menu systems in Studio is a breeze. You treat the menu system as part of the timeline and a menu is simply a title like any other title element except that it includes buttons. You configure these buttons to jump to chapter markers of other menus in your project and the menu element appears in the timeline along with the video and audio tracks.

I have managed to make menus with hidden `Easter egg' menus, PIN-code entry type menus that lead to hidden content and even a menu system where cable cars roll diagonally onto the screen to show the moving chapter previews in the windows - three chapters per page with the cable cars travelling diagonally off the screen as another group of three come on with the next three chapters.

All of this was pretty easy to achieve with the old versions of Studio, but is even easier now with some of the recent enhancements to the title/menu editor.

BUNDLES OF CONTENT

As I've said above, a lot of the content that gets bundled with Studio these days is very much 'throw-away' padding. Some of it has very specific uses - country flag based transitions possibly for holiday videos, swinging bells for wedding videos - but I'd generally recommend avoiding any of these if you want your project to look at all professional. Frustratingly it is these often themed effects that Pinnacle chooses to call 'professional-level' - no professional worth their salt would use these! Digging through the 2000+ transitions and effects, though, will turn up some really useful bits and pieces - used well these look very good and even the bad ones can serve as inspiration for your own effects.

One area I particularly like for creating effects is the Alpha Magic transitions. These are basically greyscale images that perform a transition following the gradient of the image. That means that if you have any sort of graphics package on your PC (and if you have an NLE then surely you have a graphics editor as well) you can create your own 2D transitions very easily. Alpha Magic has been a part of Pinnacle Studio from when I first used it and I still to this day go back to it to achieve some effects.

The bundled DVD/BD titles and menus and motion titles are again of dubious quality in themselves. One or two are subtle enough to use as is, but most can only really be used as a starting point for your own creations. Thankfully editing titles and menu systems is really quite straight forward with a little practice. The Motion Titler is really very impressive and makes it very easy to create very professional looking spectacular title sequences. The old 'Title Deko' style rolling and crawling titles of old Studio are still there as well should you want to keep things simple.

The 'Toon It' plug in bundled with S15 Ultimate is a bit of fun, but could potentially be used to great effect in a title or credit sequence.

Knoll Light Factory on the other hand is brilliant. Used sparingly it could really enhance the right kind of project. For years professional cameramen and photographers worked hard to avoid lens flares, but now you can add them back in! You may not have had the right lighting on the day of shooting, but viewers of your project will never know! (A search of the web will find plenty of examples of what can be achieved with Knoll Light Factory, and in fact Pinnacle Studio in general).

HFX EDITOR, PRO OR MEGA

One thing that should be noted by previous Hollywood FX users is that the editor that is bundles with this package is NOT the full blown HFX Pro/Mega editor. It simply allows you to adjust the existing HFX transitions and effects and save them as new effects. So far I have been unable to create new 3D text objects or create new effects from scratch. From some menus you are given the option of paying an additiona £26.99 (IIRC) to upgrade to the full Pro/Mega editor which will allow you to create HFX effects from scratch. Shame really as I thought that was what I was getting bundled.

PERFORMANCE

Every version of Pinnacle Studio, pretty much, has claimed improved performance over previous versions but you still need to keep your machine spec up there to be able to use the best the package has to offer. As some reviewers have said, a minimum spec machine will struggle with larger projects and projects that combine a lot of effects (one way around this is to break up your project into chunks. Render those out to files then compile a final project from those rendered files).

S15 Ultimate is no different, as newer compressed video formats (such as H264) made their way onto the supported lists for NLE software the required specs went up. If you want to use these formats and produce HD videos then you will still need a good machine. And remember, the more complex your project (not just how long) the longer it will take to render. Studio does have a little trick up its sleeve, though. If the software detects that you're not doing anything (mulling over the next edit perhaps) it will start to render effects and transitions etc in the background - and you can see it doing this by way of a green progress bar above each section to be rendered in the timeline. This means that previewing your projects usually means you get to see what the end rendered project will look like. Dependent on you settings this can even reduce final rendering time as these renderings can be incorporated in the final render with much less work required by the render engine.

There is one performance issue with Studio that really should have been resolved by now though... there is no 64-bit support! Yes, it will run on a 64-bit machine and OS, but it does not take any advantage of the 64-bit processor or any memory beyond 4GB. I would imagine a 64-bit version would benefit from a serious performance jump but the lack of 64-bit hasn't put me off sticking with Studio as I still prefer it to anything else I've worked with.

STABILITY

This is a complicated bit of software, and one frustration with Studio for me has always been its instability. Previous versions have always had patch upon patch released and these really were needed for me to ever get a project finished. Versions 14 and 15 do seem far better in my experience, but it does still crash and hang. Studio now recovers far, far better than before though, and on re-opening the programme I have never lost an edit so far - the programme re-opens with the project exactly where it was when Studio crashed. I don't expect this to always be the case as it will depend on exactly where the crash occurs, however I similarly don't expect to lose more than my last one or two edits.

[UPDATE: After a couple of weeks of pretty heavy use, I have to say that stability of Pinnacle Studio has massively improved in this version. I haven't had a crash or hang up now in about two weeks, and that's on a project with many layers of effects and overlays (it's a short promo piece with overlays being used as 'special effects' - I'm not breaking my keep-it-simple rule!)]

SO, WHAT'S NEW IN V15?

The differences between v14 and v15 seem not to be so numerous. As the included plug-ins seem to be pretty much the same the only big functional difference between the two that I can see is that Studio now includes a project export and import function.

Now this is no minor thing - it's a really useful addition meaning that you can archive off your projects in full including all required media. You can then restore the archived project to work on it again without having to hunt down your original content. This is something that has been lacking from Studio up to now and is a very welcome addition. Is it worth the upgrade cost, well to be absolutely honest probably not, but if you are trying to choose between buying v14 and saving about 10-15 quid or going for v15 then I would say that this function alone is definitely worth the additional 15 quid.

As usual there are a few new file formats supported I the new version, but nothing particularly startling. According to the box notes the new formats - all export formats rather than import - for v15 are:

-YouTube HD
-DiVX Plus MKV
-Quicktime HD
-AVCHD Lite

All previously supported formats are still there as well including DVD, BD, HDDVD, AVI, Flash etc.

There are also the aforementioned improvements to AVCHD and H.264 editing performance.

WHAT'S MISSING

There are a couple of features that still haven't been added that some systems do have. The `infinite' number of video tracks feature has already been mentioned, as has the lack of native 64-bit support.

Another thing that I would have thought would have made its way into Studio by now is subtitle creation. You can, of course, create `in-vision' open subtitles using the title editor, but if you want to include subtitles that can be switched on or off then Cyberlink Power Director is one route you could take.

The one thing that I really do wish was supported though is discrete editing of surround sound audio and the ability to produce titles with multiple audio tracks, be they separate surround channels or additional languages / soundtrack versions. Maybe I'm asking a bit much from a home edit system, but Studio has had the ability to mix in a surround audio field for a long while now and the graphical representation of a room for the edit is very nice, but sometimes it would be nice to get that bit of extra control so that `unnatural' effects can be achieved.

IN SUMMARY THEN

If you are in the market for a new PC editing package then I can thoroughly recommend Pinnacle Studio. These later versions are much more stable and come with everything you need to produce brilliant looking projects.

Remember, though, that it takes time to produce something that looks good. Some reviewers here seem surprised that it has taken hours of work to edit a 5 minute project - that is not the fault of the software, and it's actually not even a fault on the part of the user. I'd suggest that if it is taking hours to edit a five minute project then you are doing it RIGHT! Just bunging a bunch of clips on the timeline or using the `make-a-movie' type wizards that come with most home editing packages these days will save you time but if you want something that really looks good - and looks professional - then you are going to need to put the time in. It is these little tweaks and returning to the project time and again to get things just right that make all of the difference between an OK project and a good production.

If you can stretch to the bit of extra cash for Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection v15 (PC) then I would - I certainly think it's worth it. However this Studio HD Ultimate v15 package is more than enough to keep you going for a long time and to enable you to produce some really nice stuff.

Keep an eye on the price, though. This package has been on sale on Amazon for below £50 and above £70... it's worth it even at the higher price, in my opinion, but why spend more when it will likely be available a bit cheaper in a few weeks' time.
22 Comments| 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 August 2011
I recently purchased a new digital HD camcorder to record the family. I tried various video software packages but Pinnacle was head and shoulders above the rest. It was good to be able to test drive it for a month before committing. I have an iPAD which is great for showing videos to family and friends. Microsoft Movie Maker wouldn't let me anywhere near! Pinnacle seems to support all the formats. However I did find that my 3 year old computer was struggling a little. So, I first had to upgrade it with more disk (I put on a 1Tb disk which is great to store video and pictures). I then upgraded RAM from 2Gb to 6Gb. Because I was using Windows 7 32 bit it could only address 3Gb so then I upgraded to 64 bit (fortunately my computer was 64 bit compatible). Fired up with enthusiasm I also replaced the graphics card. This took some research but thanks to the web I tracked down a 1Gb graphics card that would fit my computer (or so I thought!). The problem with cards is the power supply required and the physical space required. It fits but only after some bending and pushing! In truth I haven't yet seen any great increase in throughput resulting from the graphics card. I think the key feature was the memory. The next step is to learn how to use Pinnacle. It is a sophisticated piece of software. Fortunately they have an on-line video training guide which I find very useful. Perhaps I am getting close to actually editing my holiday video and showing it off on my iPAD! It would be nice to have a "quick video wizard" to quickly arrange a short Movie. So, it will all work but it takes an investment in time as well as money.
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on 2 May 2011
I have used SONY Vegas, ADOBE Premier Elements and Pinnacle as form version 8 onwards and found version 15 to be the best of the lot. Admittedly, it does not have as many features as the others but I would think it has enough for the majority of family video makers to produce a presentable video that will become an interesting and almost professional looking video presentation.

One of the problems with all of the programs I have used in the past is program hang up and while this program is no exception, it does not hang up anywhere near frequently as the others did and is relatively stable. At the times it does hang-up, it has self-recovered to the point of the last edit and I managed to continue working with it until completion. Just try and not to enter too many commands while the program is processing the last set of instructions!

Another worthwhile feature I really do like is the program can be worked in a way that those of us who used to work with editing film can understand. Take razor blade, make your splice then cement together and all of this does not involve manoeuvring between menus and, as is the case of Vegas, into yet another program (SONY Architect).

Overall, if you do have a good spec PC, do not wish to be over enthusiastic with optical tricks/gimickery and need a relatively stable program and with not much training in navigation through menu bars, etc, I suggest that, based on my experience hitherto, you should give PINNACLE version 15 a try.

Please note that all of my commnets are given in the relative sense.

Good luck!
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on 3 May 2011
This movie making software is probably the best out there for the average schmo. Its easy to use and there is a grand scale of transitions and themes to use that makes your movie look professional. The green screen is easy to use too and the straight forward tutorials help you to get through the hardest tasks without ease. I'd say this is the easiest software on the market but don't be fooled as your films look great and their is even options to burn disks in blu-ray. I will warn you, as other movie making softwares do are that, it tends to freeze at occasions and is very slow if you have a cheap laptop with a crappy processor. However i have a not cheap laptop but crappy processor! You just need patience but it is most certainly worth it. You won't be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 25 May 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The installation was quick and painless without any problems at all. The only thing not installed automatically is Sure Thing Labeller, which as it will be of use to only a small percentage of users it is probably best this way. The user manual is installed as a PDF file, but there are a few brief quick start guides in the box. However, if you want a printed copy of the manual then you have to buy it online. The help file also links to free online video tutorials.
On first run you are offered the choice of watching a tutorial, loading a sample project or just opening the package. If you've ever used a movie editing package before then all the usual options and controls are present and correct. If you haven't then it is easy to get started. The package uses 3 tab like buttons at the top to make each stage as simple as possible. These are: 1) Import, 2) Edit, and 3)Make Movie
Importing your own movies, images and sounds is easy and can be done in several ways. You can capture movies from (non copy protected) DVDs/Blu-Ray disks, Files from various devices (Hard disk, USB thumb drives), Stop Motion images (direct from a camera) or snapshots (single images direct from camera). When loading video files from hard disk several file formats are supported, but sadly not Flash (FLV) videos. Some of the filters to import certain formats require you to activate them (for free) over the Internet so make sure you use a PC connected to the net! Once imported videos appear in albums that can be set to show as single, whole files, or as auto-pre-cut clips. There are a few ways to view the layout of your movies: Storyboard, Timeline, and as a text list. In fact most sections have different ways to view them, allowing you to find the look and way that suits you best.
There are sample movie clips provided that you can just drag and drop on the timeline to start learning. Most of what you will want to do can be achieved using just drag and drop, & a few clicks of the mouse button. The bundled effects enable you to add things like lens flares, stabilisation, fractal based fire effects, and a whole lot more. There are many different plugin effects, sound bites, etc. supplied and should be more than enough to get you started. Many of them can be customised to suit your every need.
Audio (soundtrack, effects, etc.) are covered with many supplied to get you started. Full control is available over things like positioning of 3D Surround Sound, so you can give your movies that extra bit of zing!
Completed movies can be outputted to Disc (CD/DVD), File, Tape or to the web direct (YouTube and Yahoo! Video). Menu templates for DVDs are supplied and easy to use.
The extras supplied with this version are good and include a great many themed 2D & 3D transitions, menus, titles, sound effects, etc., that will give your projects a more professional finish.
I was unable to try the Labeller as I do not have the required hardware.
The main program features that this version has over the more basic Pinnacle Studio HD v15 are: Dolby Digital encoding, Blu-Ray authoring, and Motion titles.

Overall, I would say that this is a polished, easy to use package with lots of useful extras and on my PC it was fast and reliable, and would recommend it to anyone.

Pros
===
Easy to use.
Supports popular file formats (see below).
Fast
Lots of extras in this version

Cons
====
Can not import Flash (FLV) movies.

Notes
=====
Tested on: Windows 7 64-bit Pro, i7-920 OC@4GHz, 6Gb RAM, ATi 4850 512Mb.

There are 2 other versions available:

Pinnacle Studio HD v15 - The most basic version with less plug-ins and add-ons.

Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection v15 - A more advanced with extra plug-ins, add-ons and a green screen.
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VINE VOICEon 27 October 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Yes, there is a newer version of this out now, but v15 is still extremely capable and should be able to be picked up quite cheap now. Each release of this budget (like Adobe Photoshop Elements is a light version of the industry standard Photoshop) gets more and more features of it's high end bretheren, ProTools.

Pinnacle Studio HD is a great way of dipping ones toes into video editing, though you do need a powerful PC with lots of ram otherwise rendering will still be chunking along when you get back from a week's holiday. I've since moved onto Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere with a new job, but the process and visual layout is just the same with Pinnacle Studio HD, so I had a good (basic) grounding in how video editing works.

Interesting that Corel have since taken this from Avid, especially since they already have Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 Ultimate (PC), will Pinnacle Studio be kept as a higher end product? Hopefully this is the case,a s Corel have a habit of bloating their software with unnecessary code and unwanted features.

Four stars for a fine piece of software.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On paper - or on product box - this looks a great package and it is. It took a while to install and then hung for a bit but eventually I got it going.

It doesn't seem very intuitive though and it took a while for me to work out even how to find a video file from my camera on an SD card, it seemed to only want to recognise certain drives and locations. I got there in the end, though it wasn't easy.

The interface is nice and clear as it dropping effects, etc. The biggest bugbear for me though was the speed. It was incredibly slow on my machine, even though it's dual core with 4GB ram and a couple of times I nearly gave up but persevered just to see the results, which to be fair, were very good.

It's a good product, but I would suggest you would need a pretty powerful PC to get the full benefit from it.
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sorry but I found Pinnacle Studio HD, whilst pretty complete in terms of features, fussy and slow in use. I found it much harder to get to grips with than Serif's MoviePlus X6, for example and my admittedly ageing Quad core Dell Desktop struggled with every aspect of the program. End results were good with a wide selection of output formats - might be worth a punt for those with powerful hardware.
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on 4 November 2011
I had a month's holiday in New Zealand earlier this year. I bought an HD camcorder, a high spec PC, above and beyond the spec that Pinnacle say you need to run Studio and a new HD TV to enjoy my handy work on. But I find that it's very slow and constantly stops responding. I've not yet managed to create the finished product. I've put about an hour's worth of video together and now I have to go back and add titles etc but the "scrubber" keeps defaulting to a single pont in the video and won't let me edit anything before it! Agh!!! I may end up giving up and waiting until some decent software becomes available. I check how much processor and RAM it's using and there's still plenty in reserve, it's just bad software.
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having tried a number of video editing software suites over the years I have come to find them difficult to use, slow and prone to crashing. This however is a revelation. Sure if you try to zip along and expect the program to keep up with all your commands then it will freeze but the trick is to wait for a process to finish before you ask it to do another one. Even using this 'trick' previous video editors have still frozen but this one absolutely doesn't. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles but everything the home video editor needs is here. I cannot praise this product highly enough and it is so easy to use!
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