When it comes to editing programs, the conversation is always on one of three programs; Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer and Apple Final Cut Pro. The problem with only talking about those three products is that not everyone is in need of an edit software that’s meant for editing as a professional. What about those who just want to go a step past capturing family memories, history and vacation video?
Pinnacle Studio 19 is a fully functional, simple to use and very capable video editing program. Starting at just $60 for the basic Pinnacle Studio, then $100 for Plus and $130 for Ultimate, the value to cost ratio is hard to resist. That means for $130, you can own — not lease or rent — a piece of software that will do just about anything the entry-level video producer would want to do. That’s not to say that it’s at all competitive with Premiere Pro, Media Composer or Final Cut Pro, but it’s a very useful tool if you don't need to use exactly what Hollywood uses.
With the release of version 19, Pinnacle Studio has been upgraded with multi-camera editing for up to six cameras, optimization for Intel 6th generation processors, a new automatic audio ducking feature, support for XAVC and DVCPRO HD decoding, support for VFR Video and loads of effects from NewBlueFX.
We got our hands on Pinnacle Studio 19 Ultimate, meaning all new features would be available to us. We were quickly up and running after downloading and installing the program. Overall, the process took us a half hour or so, but we weren't timing it — just flipping back from our browser till we noticed it was done.
We tried to have new eyes when looking at Pinnacle, so we could see what its worth in this newest release. Going through the pre-made demo video, many of the effects were very cheesy. We would soon find out, that the cheese-factor that you can achieve with Pinnacle studio is high — very high. But that's ok; the transitions and effects that weren’t cheesey were useful. We would have been put off if everything was cheesey, but fortunately we found some very useful tools, and they were easy to find and apply.
The way Pinnacle Studio Pro 19 works is just like many other editors; you have a project bin, a preview window and a timeline. The organization tools for your project are simple, and importing footage and assets is a breeze. We found that all the functions we require to edit were available to us. Were they as easy to access and use as other editors? No, but they weren’t bad either, the tools were just not as efficient and the layout wasn't as intuitive as other editors on the market.
An example of this is when using the multi-cam editor. You first choose what clips are going to be part of the multi-cam clip, then open the first dialog window for the editor. It will show the clips you have selected. At this point, you can add more clips if there is space or add an audio clip from a different source. Once you’ve completed that, you move to the next window, the actual editor. This is where video/audio sync and the switching takes place. Once you’re happy with the sync and have made a sequence, Pinnacle then builds you a clip to use in your timeline. If sync was integrated into the timeline itself, none of the other windows, or even a separate multi-cam editor, would be needed.
The three main new features that make this release relevant are multi-camera editing, automatic audio ducking and XAVC and DVCPRO HD decoding.
Let’s start with multi-camera editing. As we explained above, the process is not as intuitive as it could be. However, it’s still a neat feature and most definitely would be helpful when cutting between multiple cameras. It’s just a bit clunky, and we would have liked it to have a few less steps to achieve the same result.
Next is the new automatic audio ducking feature. It was very easy to use; tell the program the relationship you want the main audio and the background track and you are done. It will lower the secondary audio below your main track, giving you automatic audio ducking. This is a great feature for those who want to add a little bit more professionalism to their edit. Smoothing out the audio will keep your audience’s attention and not distract from your story. We did experience, however, that it’s not always accurate, so it might be best to use it and then tweak for the best results.
Last is the expanded decoding options with XAVC and DVCPRO HD codecs. Both are prevalent codecs encountered often via many different cameras. XAVC and DVCPRO HD can be found in professional and high-end consumer cameras and are good quality codecs. Our view of version 19 wouldn’t be the same without this option, as it's almost a requirement if using many high-quality cameras on the market, even in the consumer space.
Recommendation and Summary
Pinnacle Studio 19 Ultimate is a good video editing program with loads of options for most every type of editor. If you’re new to video editing, you won't be overwhelmed with advanced options, but if you require some more advanced tweaks to your video like color correction, creating titles and creative transitions, it can handle that, too.
We would most definitely recommend Pinnacle Studio 19 Ultimate to anyone who needs a flexible, affordable and robust editing software. If you already have Pinnacle Studio Pro, but not the newest version, take a look at your needs and see if the new updates fit your workflow. There are some big, new things in this release that might make it worthwhile.