Pinacle (formally Avid) Studio for iPad Editing Software Review

UPDATE: On July 4th, 2012, Corel acquired Pinnacle Systems from Avid and changed the name of this app from Avid Studio for iPad to Pinnacle Studio for iPad.

Avid is a highly respected name in the professional video-editing world. With the release of Avid Studio for iPad, the company is entering the mobile editing market and leaning on its reputation as an industry leader in video. While Avid Studio for iPad is a far cry from Avid's high-end professional nonlinear editors, it looks to be a must-have app for any home video enthusiast. Avid Studio for iPad is designed to work with the Studio for PC version, and users can begin projects remotely and then export them to the desktop program for more in-depth editing. For the current price of $5 (soon to be bumped to $8), there aren't many reasons to pass it up.

The Interface

The touch interface is very simple and intuitive. Tap clips to activate them and make edits. Tap and hold to grab clips to move around the interface. Double tap to access clip settings such as volume, title text, or audio fades. The video bin will self populate with all the video clips currently on your iPad, as will the photo and music bins.

To the right of the bins is the preview window. Unlike professional editing software with two windows, there is only one viewer. By default, this screen shows whatever frame the playhead is currently on in the timeline. However, tapping a clip in the video bin will bring it up in the viewer where in and out points can be defined.

The timeline includes one video track and three audio tracks. Video clips with an audio track don't use one of the three audio tracks. In fact, audio tracks attached to video won't visually appear at all on the timeline as a waveform. To make adjustments to audio attached to video, simply double tap on the video clip to access audio controls. The downside to this is that making edits based on audio cues in a video track can be difficult, as there is no visual representation of the accompanying audio.

Above the timeline is the storyboard. For users that aren't planning on trimming clips or adding audio tracks, the storyboard may be all that's needed. Here you see a thumbnail of each clip on the timeline and transitions between them. The duration is depicted numerically at the bottom right of each thumbnail, and each thumbnail is connected graphically to the clip it's associated with on the timeline, where actual timing edits are made.


Avid Studio for iPad includes some pre-made resources to liven up your video. The most interesting are several basic and ambient sound effects, including rain, birds chirping and more aggressive sounds like crashing metal.

Title presets are numerous but limited in their function. While many of the animations look great, changing text color can be fickle. For example, you may be able to change the fill color of a title but not the stroke color. Additionally, timing is very ridged. You can only place titles as effects on individual movie clips. That means the title will last as long as the clip itself, with no variation. Unfortunately this means titles can't spread across multiple movie clips.

Transitions are well done, but I'd like to have seen more variety. Avid Studio for iPad only includes two: cross dissolve and dip to black. Changing the timing of transitions is, however, very simple and intuitive: simply drag the edges of the transition like you would in most nonlinear editor programs.

Avid has included several preset animations which they call montages. If you've ever used Apple's iDVD or Motion presets, you'll know exactly how these work. There are drop zones in pre-made animations that you simply drag and drop movie clips into and they will be incorporated into the animation itself. Avid includes several complex montages, like a virtual photo album, as well as simple montages that are not much more than picture-in-picture presets.

Acquiring Video

Since Avid Studio for iPad is an iOS application, it has to follow specific rules about where it can get video. As a result, it only pulls video from your iPad's camera roll. How you get it there is up to you. Avid lets you shoot from right inside the app, which is great if you're willing to shoot with the built-in camera. Additionally, you can use Apple's Camera Connection Kit (sold separately), to plug your camera directly into the iPad via USB, or use an Apple SD card reader (also sold separately). This will work great, assuming you are shooting photos or video that fit Apple's standards (JPEG and RAW for photos, and H.264 and MPEG-4 for video). Finally, you can use your computer to sync video to your iPad via iTunes. Again, the video must fit iPad standards, but iTunes has a built in conversion tool, which will make video iPad-ready before syncing, if it's not already in a format iPad can use.


Doing basic edits is fast and easy. Clips on the timeline play instantly and the render times for transitions are short. We did encounter a couple of crashes while working with titles. Fortunately, our progress was saved. Render times can get long when using the preset montages and title animations, sometimes taking several minutes per montage. It's worth noting that we tested Avid Studio for iPad on an iPad 2, and while performance was generally good, others using a first generation iPad have reported frequent crashing.

A Short Wish List

Avid Studio for iPad is a lot of fun to play with, and it definitely takes editing on such a mobile platform as the iPad to the next level. Still, there are a few features we'd love to see. The first is a way to record voice-overs. Currently the only way to record a voice over is to do it outside of Avid Studio with a voice recorder app, then import it, but it'd be nice to be able to record voice from inside Avid, similar to how video recording currently works. Secondly, it would be nice to have a second video track, even if it were limited to only being used for titles. The limitation of titles only being able to be used over a single movie clip feels unnecessary.

Tech Specs

Hardware Requirement: iPad or iPad 2
Operating System Requirement: iOS 5 or later
Application Size: 30.7MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0


  • Low price
  • Easy to use interface
  • Three audio tracks
  • Good selection of presets and sound effects


  • No voice-over recording
  • Titles only cover one clip
  • Limited to iPad video formats
  • Only two transitions


With the ability to make simple edits and share them over the Web, its applications range from making videos of your kids to making preliminary edits of dailies on a movie set. For the price, Avid Studio for iPad can't be beat.

Avid Technology, Inc.
Price: $5

Mike Wilhelm is an associate multimedia editor for Videomaker.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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