Pinnacle Studio 18 Review

Pinnacle Studio Effects Lens Flare

Pinnacle Studio 18 offers advanced video editing in three versions from HD to 4K, with a strong collection of additional effects, plugins and tools. The major upgrade in this version is the move to 64-bit processing for better advanced editing performance with today's high-def content. For newer users, the Studio interface avoids intimidating complexity by sequestering advanced options in media-specific editor windows.

Pinnacle Studio 18 offers more power, precision, and creative control — as well as mobile integration with the Pinnacle Studio app.

Studio extends its range through three versions, increasing the timeline tracks, stepping up to 3D and then 4D editing and adding more effects, libraries and tools as the versions progress:

  • The base Pinnacle Studio 18 for $59.95 supports HD video editing with up to six timeline tracks and includes 1500 2D and 3D effects, titles and templates.
  • Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus for $99.95 supports up to 24 tracks and includes 1800 effects for more advanced editing. Plus, it adds Dolby 5.1 audio, stereoscopic 3D editing, live screen capture and the Scorefitter music library.
  • Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate steps up the power with unlimited timeline tracks, 2000 effects and additional NewBlue presets and plugins, plus 4K Ultra HD editing, Blu-ray authoring and XAVC S support. It also adds the iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner tool and additional Scorefitter libraries.

However, the biggest news with Studio version 18 is that it is part of the latest wave of video editing tools that have stepped up to 64-bit processing, providing the performance and capacity to handle the demands of high-definition video editing on today's PCs. (Studio still also is available in a 32-bit version.) In addition, Studio 18 supports 4K smart encoding and XAVC 4K HD cameras and is optimized for Intel Quick Sync hardware video encoding and decoding.

Studio 18 also adds interface enhancements including Group to edit multiple segments together and Close Gap to clean up in the timeline, plus additional creative assets including 17 royalty-free tracks from Triple Scoop Music. There are also new tools like the Scorefitter music library for custom-fit soundtracks.

On Task 

Pinnacle Studio 18 Transitions Timeline
With all its power, Studio still retains a very task-oriented interface. The main control bar across the top of the main window controls the three basic modes — organize assets, edit videos and author discs — each of which fill the window with the associated editor. Two additional tabs open separate windows with tools to import assets or export productions.

The Organize tab opens the Library view to organize the media elements for your production. The two editors also include a compact version of the Library for easy access to assets while editing your video production in the Movie Editor or adding interactive menus in the Disc Editor.

The Importer manages importing assets from files and storage media, analog and digital camcorders, digital cameras and discs. It also supports stop-motion capture and still image snapshots grabbed from video frames.

The Exporter can create a movie file, including for portable devices, burn a disc or disc image to burn later or copy to a memory card, or upload directly to a Cloud site including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo, making sharing your video with friends across the web simple. You can select a preset output format in the settings panel, or select your own advanced options. Studio also conveniently provides the option to output only a selected portion of the timeline. 

In the Library

The Library has a navigator tree view down the left side to access your projects, media (video, audio and photos), content (including effects and titles) and collections. You then can browse and preview these elements in the main browser window, rate and tag them for more effective search and filtering, and group and organize them into collections. The Library also supports watchfolders, which monitor specified folders and automatically import new files.

Double-clicking on elements in the Library or in the editors then opens the associated media editor in a separate window, for editing and applying corrections to specific types of media or assets. You can apply corrections to assets before including them in your production or adjust them once they are on the timeline.

The Library also offers Montage templates to combine multiple assets into pre-edited slideshows and animations with an opening, segues between clips and ending. These then can be customized in the Montage Editor.

For fast-path editing, click the SmartMovie button in the Library to automatically generate a movie or slideshow from a collection of clips, which is saved as a Studio project that you can then tweak and finalize. 

Movie Editing

Pinnacle Studio 18 makes it easy to start editing your video. The Edit tab in the main control bar opens the Movie Editor screen, with the compact library panel to drag-and-drop assets onto the timeline panel to build your production, plus the player panel with single or dual view for source and timeline. You can click the tabs in the library window to quickly access different asset types, or pop up the full navigator tree.

Pinnacle Studio 18 also has a Storyboard view, which displays the elements in the selected track above the timeline to make it easier to quickly add, remove and reorder them.

By default, for ease in editing, the timeline works in the format defined by the first clip you import, and automatically converts imported media as necessary. However, you can explicitly change the timeline settings at any time (e.g., aspect, resolution, frame rate), or define specific project settings.

While you can edit directly in the timeline with drag-and-drop and the right-click menus, Pinnacle Studio also provides separate editor windows for the different asset types. For media, these organize operations on each clip, with tabs for Transitions In/Out, Effects and Corrections. Selecting an operation displays the available categories, and selecting the category then displays a scrollable horizontal menu of the available elements (i.e., as also listed in the library navigation menu for transitions and effects).

The Corrections tab similarly offers tools to correct and enhance your media, including enhance and stabilize for video, equalize and noise reduction for audio and straighten and red-eye reduction for photos.

Selecting a specific effect, transition or correction opens a side control panel to adjust the available settings, plus other displays such as a waveform view and channel mixer. You also can add keyframes (e.g., for effects, audio volume, and animated titles) on the timeline at the bottom of the associated editor window. The photo editor also provides pan and zoom animations. 

Mobile Studio [if desired]

Mobile video editing does not just mean your notebook anymore. Instead, you can do real video editing on a touch screen with tools like the Pinnacle Studio app ($9.99) for iPad and iPhone. The Studio app offers storyboard and multi-track timeline editing with transitions, effects and titles, along with features including motion graphics, slow and fast motion, Picture-in-Picture overlays, voiceovers and photo pan and zoom slideshows. Then you can export at 1080p directly to sites including YouTube and Facebook. Or export your project to the desktop Pinnacle Studio application and continue editing.

In this way, you can immediately do quick edits on short clips directly on your tablet in the Studio mobile app, and then later import and combine them into a final complete production with Studio 18 on your PC. 

In The Studio

Pinnacle Studio provides full-up video editing without imposing an intimidating interface. For example, there are only some 20 buttons in the timeline toolbar, which provide basic editing and additional tools, designed with clear icons and helpful tooltips. You also can customize the toolbar to remove unwanted icons. The most common asset-specific operations then are selected via the right-click menus (with up to 10 items including duration, speed, and transitions). Advanced controls then are accessed by double-clicking to open the associated media editor for detailed settings and corrections with keyframe controls. However, the volume of advanced controls can make it difficult to locate the one you need, and a couple of useful ones aren’t there at all, namely tools for multicam editing and motion tracking.

Studio provides extensive help, with a 450 page PDF User Guide, and video tutorials on YouTube from Pinnacle and others. It also includes a six-week all-access pass to studiobacklot.tv for additional training, content and a royalty-free stock library. For support, Pinnacle provides a searchable Knowledgebase and online forum, and offers 14-day free warranty support for installation and activation, followed by paid support for other issues.

The bottom line is that the new 64-bit processing in Studio 18 makes it a compelling upgrade for current users (at $30 to $40 off for Plus and Ultimate). And for new users who have ambitions to get serious, it offers a nice graduated approach to the complexity and possibilities of video editing. There is no evaluation version of Studio 18 available, but you can check out the YouTube tutorials and download the User Guide from the Corel site to see how it fits for you. 

Corel, Inc.
www.pinnaclesys.com
Studio 18: $60; Studio 18 Plus: $100; Studio 18 Ultimate: $130

Tech Specs

Pinnacle Studio 18Ultimate Edition
Operating System: Windows 8, Windows 7 (64-bit OS recommended)
CPU: Intel Core Duo 1.8 GHz, Core i3 or AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0 GHz or higher; Intel Core2 Duo 2.66 GHz, Intel Core i5 or i7 1.06 GHz or higher required for AVCHD & Intel Quick Sync Video support
Storage Space: 5.8 GB HDD space for full installation
RAM: 2 GB of RAM or higher, min. 4 GB for Windows 64-bit
Graphics/VRAM: DirectX 9 (or higher) graphics device with Pixel Shader 3.0 support; NVIDIA GeForce 6 series or higher (CUDA enabled required for CUDA support); ATI X1000 series or higher; Intel GMA X3000 series or higher
Requires Internet Connection: No

Strengths

  • All in one video editing
  • Includes extensive effects, plugins, and tools
  • Task-oriented interface avoids intimidating complexity

Weaknesses

  • Gray color scheme can make it difficult to distinguish window elements
  • Plethora of additional content and tools can make it difficult to find important options
  • Omits useful advanced features like multicam and motion tracking


Douglas Dixon is a developer and writer who covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.

Issue: 

Douglas
Dixon
Wed, 03/25/2015 - 8:02pm

Comments

Pinnacle 18

deanobalino's picture

The software SOUNDS amazing.  But from a practical standpoint, it is a frustrating failure.  I purchased a brand new Acer V2-772G-7872 laptop, Intel I7-4712Q chip, NVidea GeoForce GT750M w/4gig of video memory, 16 GB of DDR3 L memory...over and above the recommended minimum requirements to run this software.  I bought Seatgate 2TB external hard drive for all media.  All I get is constant hang up and crashes.   It's basically an overpriced transcoder for me.   I have reloaded the software twice and I get the same results.  Crash, crash, crash.   And the rendering takes FOREVER!!  I am shooting in HD with final MTS files.  I understand they are big.  But the time it takes to render is ridiculous.  I literally have to leave it over night and then I'm lucky if it didn't crash over night.   

 

Back in the day I used Pinnacle Liquid.  That was a masterpiece of editing software.  Did everything it said it would without  a hitch.  This software has ruined that great legacy.    

 

I am so disappointed and don't want anyone else to be disappointed like me.   

Studio 18 is basically un-usable

Zuriel's picture

I totally agree with you - I had Pinnacle Studio 18 after 1 week I found it was so slow rendering even in a latest 3.2ghz quad core 8 gig ram 4k gcard Asus mb.
It freezes and is unable to cope with more than 90mins hd mpeg2 footage. The render engine is only optimised for latest camera formats and does not function any where near a reasonable edit render time as other formats such as mp4 H.264 etc.
If you have plenty of time to do even a basic edit then this will suffice. It froze just doing a cut on a clip, little blue circle for 30 seconds or more.it is pathetic even for a consumer use.
I applied for a full refund - after disputing with them on phone and several emails as I only had downloaded software for 7 days they said I was outside of their refund period of 30 days which is false. I reported it to watchdog TV. It took 2 months or so to actually get my refund minus £10.00. I looked up on Google finding they are complained about very frequently as their customer fob off service is designed to wear their customers down to the point of giving up.
Well I got most of my money back.
Avid Studio was and is still the best version out there for at least being able to render footage quite adequately no matter what format in it's day was around.
I have not even bothered with Studio 19.
I don't know how they get people rating this almost un-usable software to get it anywhere near a 50 -50 rating. I wonder what incentive they give to those who rate their software as I feel it quite dishonest to deceive millions of people who may be looking for a descent editing of video software for consumers.

Pinnacle 18

takimno1's picture

I loved liquid also, nothing like it, I have used all the studios from 9 up. I am running a fx990 asrock extreme 4 mb. I installed an AMD FX 8350 8core with 8 gig of ddr3 memory, I have 6 1 tb drives and 2 burners, one blue ray and one lightscribe, and 3 21 in monitors, I have had no problems with 18 ultimate. I am wondering deanobalino since it is a new laptop, if maybe you have a mismatch of 32, 64 bit pinnacle 18, or, some preloaded crap that they always do with new ones. You have a kick ass machine that should scream through everything. I don't know your programming expertise, so please don't be offended by my primitive suggestions, the divx drivers, hell any thing little and minor is the cause, i still fall back to the crap acer preloads, good luck.

Pinnacle 18

Thank you Takimno1.  Admittedly, my programming knowledge is weak.  You are saying that there may be some software conflicts.  Maybe what I shouhld do is just delete all the programs that were loaded by Acer onto my computer that I never use and see if that helps.   Regarding the mismatch of 32,64 bit, where would I be able to look at that using Windows 8?  Any assistance would be appreciated. 

PS18

Tony P's picture

I've been using this product since it's release. There were teething pains in the beginnning being that this, in reality, is a version 1 software in 64bit. But there have been several patches to update and fix major issues. My suggestion is if you are having any installation issues is to go to the Pinnacle User Forum for help. It is staffed by extremely knowledgeable Moderators (one even wrote a book on this version) and a strong user base that actually use this product.

I have the Ultimate version and have done complex projects with keyframing, color correction, etc.. There are those that have done even more complex projects with green screen, etc...

So again, my suggestion to you or anyone with any questions about the product, is to go to the User Forum. One more suggestion, the Basic version is VERY BASIC and will disappoint you. The Plus and Ultimate offer more tracks and the same editing features, but the Ultimate contains more "bling" and can burn Bluray. My computer has AMDFX8350 overclocked, 16gigs DDR3, HD7870 graphics, Bluray, several hard drives

http://forums.pinnaclesys.com

 

Too many problems with Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate.

Where to start? I've been a fan and user of Pinnacle Studio products for many years, at least from Version 7 and maybe earlier, but that puts it at around the year 2000 I started with the product line and before that I've used VHS based systems, so I think I'm reasonably qualified to comment. Video editing always puts demands on a PC and as such it a matter of fact that you just have to get along with the idea the program will occasionally crash but over the years I've managed well and my last Pinnacle Studio version was 12 Ultimate running on a fairly powerful PC under Windows 8. It was quite stable with few crashes and generally if it did the program would recover the file and you could carry on from where it crashed. So far so good; but then I upgraded my PC to Windows 10 64 bit and Pinnacle 12 didn't like that environment and was very unstable so I decided to upgrade. I must admit I didn't do a lot of pre-purchase investigation, confident in the knowledge that Pinnacle would deliver the goods in a stable package and having bought the Version 18 Plus upgrade in mid August was looking forward to using the new UI and facilities. For the first few weeks I used it on a couple of basic edits and finding it was crashing rather too frequently went on line and found 2 significant patches, unfortunately these created as many problems as they were supposed to fix as now the program wouldn't import my DV tape media and still crashed left right and centre whenever it felt like it. Almost any part of the program would cause it crash, moving scenes, editing scene duration, adding titles, adding transitions, just about everything. In an attempt to remedy the situation, following Pinnacle Tech support advice I've un-installed the program numerous times, downloaded programs to ensure the program is correctly uninstalled, down loaded numerous versions of the program, patches and content files and to cut this very long story short Corel / Pinnacle technical support have failed to get the program to run satisfactorily. I have literally spent days trying to get this program to work anywhere near as it should, and if you do some research into Pinnacle Studio 18 problems you will find that many other people are having exactly the same problems. Just bear in mind that to download the program, patches and content, uninstall and re-install takes around 4 to 5 hours and I've done this too many times. Eventually I was losing the will to live so held my hands up and said, "OK, I'm beat, I give up, I can't get it to run, even with the best support that Pinnacle can offer" and asked Pinnacle for a refund. Ha that's a laugh, what they said was, "Thank you for contacting the Pinnacle Systems eStore.
Please accept our apologies; the Pinnacle Systems eStore provides a period of 30 days from purchase for the evaluation of most products and your refund request for order 9609182657 falls outside that timeframe.
Our refund policy is outlined at:
http://store.digitalriver.com/store/pinnsys/en_GB/DisplayReturnAndCancel...

Sincerely,
Jessica E.
Pinnacle Systems eStore
Customer Service
pinnacle_estore.en.cs@digitalriver.com
Email ID: 30588579"
So basically they told me to go get stuffed!
I believe they are way out of line as
1. I didn't download an evaluation version, I bought in good faith what is supposed to be a working product,
2. I've been trying to get the program to work properly with Corel / Pinnacle tech support since the 12th Sept 15. If I'd realised that they will only give a refund within a 30 period then I probably would have taken a different course of action. Also I see that Pinnacle Version 19 is also plagued with the same problems. If you decide to buy this program, then ensure if you are having problems with it to claim your money back before your 30 days is up.