- Powerful, scalable non-linear editor (NLE)
- uses both GPU and CPU to provide real-time previews of multiple effects
- improved interface, documentation and capture tools
- DVD authoring from the timeline
- instant save and background rendering.
- Occasionally obscure interface
- steep learning curve
- no DLT or AC3 support in DVD authoring
- some effects icons are unclear
- powerful PC required.
When Pinnacle released Edition DV last year, it was obvious that little work had been done on the product since it was acquired from FAST Technologies. Now that Pinnacle's engineers have had a chance to make a few changes, there are even more reasons for you to choose this non-linear editor (NLE).
Fire up Edition 5 and you’ll see that the unique, if slightly esoteric, user interface is still there. However, we’re pleased to note that it no longer takes control of your desktop. Instead, your Windows taskbar remains in view, with Edition’s own taskbar resting on top. UXGA (1,600 by 1,200 pixels) displays are now supported, allowing both the Source and Master preview windows to be viewed at 720 by 576 pixels on a single monitor (dual displays are also supported).
Major improvements have also been made to the capture tool, which now includes scan/capture by timecode and open-ended capture with scene detection alongside manual logging and manual capture. Another useful addition if you regularly work with multiple cameras is the Timecode Shift function, which allows you to edit footage from two tapes using exactly the same timecode by entering any offset between the two tapes before capture. It’s worth noting that, although you get a standard FireWire card in the box, Edition 5 isn’t tied down to this and will work with any OHCI-compliant FireWire port, which means that it could be run on a suitably powerful notebook.
However, the most important improvement to Edition 5’s feature set is the real-time preview -- a function that was seriously lacking in previous versions. Pinnacle has equipped Edition 5 with a system that not only uses the power of your CPU to provide real-time previews, but will also employ your graphics chipset, too. This makes it completely scalable, so it will benefit from any hardware upgrades to your system, and is surprisingly powerful on a well-specified PC. Anything that exceeds the capabilities of your system will be scaled down to lower frame rates to maintain the preview, or it can be rendered by Edition’s useful background renderer.
As an example, we created a five-track edit on our test rig (a dual AthlonMP 1900 with 1GB RAM) involving three static video picture-in-pictures on a colour-corrected base video layer with a transparent title overlay. At no point did we have to wait for the system to render and the lowest frame rate during playback was 15fps. Many effects can be produced by either the CPU or GPU, so you can balance the workload manually by choosing which piece of hardware does what. What can be frustrating is the lack of detail given by the static icons for the effect presets. The lack of description or animation leaves you no choice but to apply it and see if it’s what you want, which can be time consuming when there’s over 1,000 of them.
Edition 5 is also the first NLE to offer truly integrated DVD authoring from the timeline, rather than a separate utility or bolt-on tool. Your DVD gets its own track on the timeline, and is fully customisable to include transparency, highlights, animated buttons and motion menus, and can be edited and previewed without needing to leave the main editing application. As with Pinnacle’s Impression DVD Pro, menus can be designed using Adobe’s Photoshop.
On top of all of this, Edition 5 retains the features that made it a popular choice even before these revisions -- unlimited tracks, three-point editing, sub-pixel rendering, InstantSave, multi-user support, colour correction and chroma/luma keys. We’re still not overly keen on the interface, and would like to see AC3 encoding and DLT support in the DVD authoring section. But considering the cost of this product compared to Premiere 6.5, these drawbacks can be easily overlooked.
We’re sure that real-time hardware manufacturers like Matrox and Canopus are already preparing their own answers to this challenge, and can only guess at the contents of the next version of Premiere. But until we see these developments, the choice for PC-based digital video editing for the semi-professional or serious enthusiast who doesn’t have a favoured NLE is definitely now Edition 5.