10 for the Show
A lot can happen in a year, and it has for Pinnacle. Avid officially purchased Pinnacle Systems in August 2005 and now, they’ve completely revamped the Studio line of products. With the release of Studio Plus version 10, there are even more reasons to consider this program as your entry-level editor of choice. Integrating video capture, editing, still image processing, DVD authoring and much more, Studio Plus 10 has become more than a mature product — it’s an all-in-one solution for creating digital media.
Start Me Up
We were fairly impressed with Studio Plus 9 just a year ago and, while some of its quirks remain, Pinnacle has virtually started over with version 10. One such quirk is the product’s extreme load time. We installed Studio Plus 10 on a 3GHz P4 with 512MB RAM and a 256MB dual-head video card — somewhere between the minimum and recommended system requirements. After over 20 minutes, the first installation crashed, so we started over. Twenty minutes later, our second attempt installed the product but failed to install the content from the bonus DVD. This disc had its own setup application, so we used it instead. You’ll need at least 3GB of free space on your disk for installation and operation — more is recommended, much more. Launching the program made us wait over a minute each time, and Studio Plus 10 insisted on asking about a FireWire audio device we haven’t used in six months.
Once up and running, you’re presented with the Studio Launcher — a simple push-button interface that allows you to choose between the Studio product, the Instant DVD Recorder and a tutorial for first-time users. A click on the Pinnacle Studio Plus button takes you directly to the program. The Studio line of products uses a simple three-step process for creating video. With a tabbed interface for Capture, Edit and Make Movie, your options are easy to figure out. Capturing video couldn’t be easier; plug in your FireWire cable, turn the camera on, cue the tape and click the Start Capture button. Studio Plus 10 automatically creates clips based on automatic scene detection, start times on the tape or pre-defined increments. Once captured, your video shows up in an album. There’s also a handy disk usage meter to show how much video you can capture.
The Cutting Room
The Edit interface is another area where Studio Plus 10 shines. Simply drag the clips you want onto the timeline. There are two options for trimming your clips. Grabbing the beginning or end of the clip lets you drag it to the right frame. Double-clicking a clip pops up the Clip Properties tool. This window offers big handles for the beginning and end of the clip, making it very easy to find the exact in and out points. Don’t like the order of your clips? No problem–just drag them around on the timeline until it’s right. Studio Plus 10 automatically scoots the other clips to make room for your changes.
On the left-hand side of the Album, you’ll see several tabs for other functions like transitions, titles, still images and music. A click on the Transition tab shows a library of popular effects from simple dissolves to wacky flips and spins only a used car dealer could love. To apply a transition, just drag your choice between two clips. Changing transition duration is much like trimming a clip. You can drag the beginning and end of the transition on the timeline or double-click for the Properties window where you have more control. Titlers in many budget programs are a horror to use, but the titler in Studio Plus 10 is a version of Pinnacle’s excellent TitleDeko program. With a library of preset styles, it’s easy to create professional titles in no time. A title-safe area is displayed in the title editor with full control over font type, size, scaling and color. Once you’ve finished your title, just drag it onto the Title track on the timeline and set the duration as needed.
Frozen In Time
Creation of slideshow videos is a snap with Studio Plus 10. A click on the Camera tab shows an album of pictures on your hard drive. For a quick fix, select one or more pictures and drag them onto the timeline. Studio Plus 10 automatically scales the images to fit the video screen, compensating for both portrait and landscape pictures. Double-clicking brings up the Clip Properties tool where you can rotate images in 90-degree increments and correct red-eye.
Still pictures on video are fine, but it’s a motion medium, isn’t it? Why not apply a bit of movement to your images? We’ve all heard of or seen the “Ken Burns Effect” with controlled pans and zooms on still images, and Pinnacle has nailed this one. Checking the Animate From Start to End box allows you to set a beginning and end look for every image. Pan across a wide shot, zoom in to see the cake on your 2-year-old’s face, even pull out to show how much Johnny has grown in the past year. It’s one of the simplest and most powerful click-and-drag interfaces out there. Other manufacturers should take notice.
More Under the Hood
DVD authoring is available with the Make Movie tab. With another library of pre-built styles, a pro look is just a couple mouse clicks away. The interface shows how much time is available on your disc and clicking the Create Disc button finishes the process. Speaking of DVDs, the Instant DVD Recorder really works this time around, recording and finishing a disc in almost real-time.
We haven’t had time to mention HDV support, the picture-in-picture or green-screen effects, which add professional touches to your videos and the surround panner/mixer tool is awesome, In fact, there are a host of other options that could fill another article. Suffice it to say, you can create virtually any video you want with Pinnacle Studio Plus 10. If you don’t mind a few quirks, and your machine is up to the task, Studio Plus 10 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to make great basic video with minimum hassle.
Operating System: Windows XP
Minimum CPU: 1.4GHz
Minimum RAM: 512MB
HDD Space Required for Software Installation: 500MB
Formats supported: analog capture card, Mini DV, DVD camcorder, HDV, MPEG-4 formats
Batch Capture: n
User Interface: Storyboard, Timeline
Number of Video Tracks: 2
Number of Audio Tracks: 4
Nesting Tracks: n
A/V Level Envelopes: y
Audio Scrub: y
Keyframe animation: n
Number of Transitions: 266
Number of Video Filters: 30
Background Rendering: y
Dual-Processor/Dual-Core/HT Optimized: n
Third-Party Plug-In Support: y
MPEG-2 Encoding: y
MPEG-4 Encoding: y
Batch Render: n
DVD Authoring Software Included: y
- Easy to use once installed
- Excellent titling and still image management
- Surround sound tool is easy
- Unstable installer
- Bizarrely slow startup times
This popular version of longtime market-leading Studio family is still a little quirky, but version 10 adds many new features.
Contributing Editor Hal Robertson is a digital media producer and technology consultant.
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