Some stability issues but otherwise 5 well deserved stars
Nov 7, 2009
This is my third iteration of Pinnacle Studio, having owned versions 11 and 12 as well. I also own and have used several other video editing packages running from high to low end. At the top of the low end range, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection 14 comes in as a solid five-star performer - if you are willing to tolerate some minor stability issues. For reasons I don't pretend to understand, all video editing programs seem to have stability issues to one degree or another. Sometimes I think I may be part of the problem as I rush ahead performing other operations while the CPU is still rendering what I've already done. Other times, I just plain don't know: like Adobe Premiere Elements 7 simply not running on a Vista 32-bit system while it ran on a 64-bit version without problems. Given time, I could probably narrow down the issues, but I'm not that concerned. With Pinnacle, I am politely informed that the program has malfunctioned and given an option to close the program. Do that, restart Pinnacle and I'm back in business within a few seconds. Do frequent saves and the occasional crashes don't hurt.
Pinnacle runs about a 12 month cycle between new major releases. Frankly, every other release could probably be skipped because the improvements are not generally that earthshaking.
I am glad, however, that I upgraded to Version 14. There are three variants, each having a few more features than the others. Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection is the top of V14 line. The only drawback is that some of the bonus content, such as the SoundSoap program, are no longer included and earlier versions will not run in V14.
The good news is that the user interface has been simplified again. Pinnacle uses context-sensitive functions. In other words, double-clicking on a video clip brings up a different menu than you'd get by double-clicking on a still image. I've found the current interface to be somewhat more sensible and easier to use. There are three primary tabs: import media, edit and render output. Import gives you the choices you would expect, covering the waterfront from analog video to AVCHD. It's pretty simple to use with some good on the fly scene selection options. There are also options for directly importing from a digital camera, and interesting, a stop motion option that lets you build something resembling a flip book. Automatic scene detection is available for those who want it. Personally I find it more of a nuisance than a help.
The editing section has everything you could want in a solid low-end program. The user interface offers a storyboard or timeline or text listing formats. I am generally in the timeline view. There are scrubbers both in the movie preview window and at the bottom of the timeline, so reviewing video is an efficient procedure. Lots of keyboard shortcuts permit a speedy workflow. There are dozens of ordinary transitions and a couple of dozen other effects that will probably see little use. Plug-ins offer special features such as pan and zoom on still images, RGB color correction and so on. There is Picture-In-Picture and Chromakeying. Pinnacle provides its own custom music program called ScoreFitter, which as the name implies will generate music of a sort to fit the time of your clips. There are also some sound effects.
There are tracks for primary video, overlay video (which can also be used for dual camera shoots), titles, music, sound effects and voice overs. All in all, it's a nice, functional layout.
Pinnacle provides two competent, if not brilliant, titling programs. One creates static text which may be kerned and otherwise adjusted. It may be used to create DVD menus and the like. The other, called Motion Titler, allows more dynamic titles. Third-party titling programs run rings around it, but it is still quite usable for those who don't want exceptionally elaborate titles.
Pinnacle includes something they call "Montage Themes" which the user can customize with clips, photo and captions. They are pretty hokey, in my opinion, and not something I would use.
You can output to just about anything. DVD menu layouts are included and you can create your own. Almost all common codecs are included for video output, which is nice.
Overall, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection V14 is a very nice video editing application that I would rank at the top end of the low-end programs. It has everything the average hobbyist videographer and, in a way, functions are more accessible than in Adobe Premiere Elements. But there's a caveat: buy the printed manual if it isn't included with your Pinnacle package. The manual itself is somewhat difficult to deal with, but comes in extremely handy as a ready reference when you need it. I have several low-end video editing packages and Pinnacle is the one I find myself using most often. It offers, I think, good value for the money and an unusually good user interface.
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection 14 is a BIG product. Not big in the sense that it is bloated with limited-use features or that it takes lots of resources, but big in that it has pretty much everything you might want in a video editor package. I've been trying it out for about two months now and still have just barely scratched the surface of what it can do. First, I want to say that the software installed perfectly on my Windows 7 x64 system, and at no point did I encounter … more
Raise the bar with the ultimate tools to tell your story. Place your subject anywhere with the Chroma-key green screen included in the box. Add impact with a complete set of dynamic plug-ins. Now with a simpler interface and Avid professional film making technology, edit clear high definition video with new effects, motion timing. Dolby Digital 5.1 Then, share your masterpiece on DVD, the web and YouTube.