Pinnacle Studio 18 Review

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
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 major upgrade in this version is the move to 64-bit processing for better advanced editing performance with today’s high-def content.

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 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.
Studio 18: $60; Studio 18 Plus: $100; Studio 18 Ultimate: $130

Tech Specs

Pinnacle Studio 18 – Ultimate 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


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


  • 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

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