Pinnacle Studio 8.0

  • Editors' rating
    7.6 Very good
  • $99.99

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • great documentation
  • DVD authoring is straightforward.

Cons

  • MPEG rendering and DVD burning take a long time
  • audio is limited to three tracks
  • no QuickTime import or export
  • no Mac version.

It's been well over a year since Pinnacle Systems Studio DV took top honours in our roundup of low-cost video editing solutions. Now, Pinnacle looks to dominate once again with Studio 8, the company's newest editing program that includes DVD authoring, new 3D transitions and a host of useful, well-integrated editing tools for both the novice and intermediate video editor.

Installation is easy, but not glitch-free in our tests. When we tried to install the second CD-ROM into Windows 2000, Studio 8's installer attempted to replace some key files that were already installed. If you ignore these warnings and just leave your files, the program works just fine. Still, Pinnacle ought to solve this problem.

To Pinnacle’s credit, though, the technical support and documentation for Studio 8 boasts the kind of detail usually reserved for products that have gone through many years’-worth of revisions. In the 258-page manual, you'll find well-written information on every niggling little feature in the program as well as editing and DVD creation tips. Pinnacle’s Web site is stocked with extremely useful user forums, FAQs, drivers and software updates. If you need further help, technical support calls cost 25p per minute.

Like the original Studio, Pinnacle divides Studio 8's interface into three main parts: Capture, Edit, and Make a movie. You can control any DV camcorder hooked up to your computer’s FireWire interface from the Capture section. Here, you'll find two of our favourite features from the old Studio product: Smart Capture (which records video at a lower resolution, sacrificing video quality to save you storage space); and Auto Scene Detection, which now lets you select and organise video clips by date, specific time (say every ten seconds) or by video content (such as a change of scene). Studio 8 can handle digital or analogue video, but you can only import AVI or MPEG digital video files. Unfortunately, the more flexible QuickTime doesn’t make it.

Another niggle: although most DVD authoring programs encode a single video stream (say the audio/video coming from a camcorder), Studio 8 encodes the DV footage to MPEG, then renders all the transitions and mixes the audio from three tracks to stereo. Although MPEG encoding takes a while anyway, the whole process takes longer than it should.

Fortunately for Pinnacle, Studio's editing tools make up for lost time. Studio 8 now also has two additional editing views, accessible from icons on the top of the Timeline view or as menu selections in the View menu: a Storyboard view (where icons are arranged in grid from top to bottom, with transitions marked as symbols between icons); and a traditional text view, where each edit is literally listed as text one cut after another. The Storyboard view works especially well for quickly assembling a rough cut of your video, and then using the Timeline view to refine your edits.

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In addition to smooth editing tools, Studio 8 now supports DVD authoring, and -- when used on a PC with a DVD or CD burner -- DVD and VCD burning. Similar to the DVD authoring tools offered by Dazzle’s DVD Complete or Sonic Solutions’ MyDVD, Studio 8 uses 27 preset menu designs, which contain elements (such as buttons and moving backgrounds) that you can modify using the new Title Editor window. You can also create opening credits and name titles to play over your video. You just drag and drop to modify transitions or titles -- for example, dragging a left-to-right ‘Push’ transition to the beginning of the clip moves the title into position from left to right.

One of Studio's most impressive features is the ability to create chapter settings within the timeline as you edit, so you can go straight to a specific part of your video from the menu. Move the Timeline Scrubber to the section of your video where you want a chapter setting, right click your mouse and then select ‘insert chapter marker’, and Studio 8 automatically places a small chapter marker in the timeline. It also adds another button to your DVD menu that shows an image in the button of where you placed the marker -- a huge time saver when creating a DVD menu from your video material.

With its improved video editing features and new DVD authoring capabilities, it's clear that Studio 8 is still the reigning champion of the low-end editing tools. Although Pinnacle needs to add QuickTime support, this program's elegance and simplicity make it the ideal first video-editing program for beginners who want to do both video editing and DVD authoring.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Category creativity application
Subcategory creativity - multimedia authoring, creativity - video editing & production
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Version 8.0
Software
Subcategory creativity - multimedia authoring, creativity - video editing & production
Category creativity application
License Type box pack
Version 8.0
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 128 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 300 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows XP
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-ROM, mouse or compatible device, sound card
Min Processor Speed 500 MHz
Min Processor Type Intel Pentium
Header
Brand Pinnacle
Product Line Pinnacle Studio
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Licensing
License Pricing Standard
System Requirements Details
Min RAM Size 128 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 300 MB

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