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Pinnacle Studio 9

One of the problems facing the developers of non-linear editing (NLE) software at the consumer end of the market is improving the application’s capabilities without making it too complicated. Or, in Pinnacle’s case, stepping on the toes of the more advanced NLE software that they sell (Liquid Edition). With Studio 9, however, it has achieved this by leaving the already intuitive front end alone, and tucking the new features beneath the surface.
zd-defaultauthor-laurence-grayson.jpg
Written by Laurence Grayson on
8.5/10

Pinnacle Studio 9.0

Excellent
Pros
  • Interface now rescales to larger resolutions background rendering new set of video and audio tools support for third-party plug-ins full-screen preview
Cons
  • Preview monitor output still dependent on graphics card lacks the second video track of Ulead’s VideoStudio 7 tools may not produce the required end result
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

One of the problems facing the developers of non-linear editing (NLE) software at the consumer end of the market is improving the application’s capabilities without making it too complicated. Or, in Pinnacle’s case, stepping on the toes of the more advanced NLE software that they sell (Liquid Edition). With Studio 9, however, it has achieved this by leaving the already intuitive front end alone, and tucking the new features beneath the surface.

That said, there are two new additions to the familiar silver front end, with the application now rescaling to fit resolutions of up to 1,600 by 1,200 pixels, and a full-screen preview button that enlarges the low-resolution preview (Esc toggles back to the application). To find what else has changed, you need to dig down a little into the video and audio toolboxes.

It’s no surprise now that Pinnacle owns Steinberg to find a slew of new filters under the audio section of the software, while support for the widely accepted VST format means that third-party developers can add their own in the future. As it stands, however, there are five VST add-ons to choose from, namely a graphic equaliser, an auto leveller, a reverb filter, a karaoke filter and the Grungelizer. The last two can be used for stripping the vocals from a music track or adding hiss, crackle and distortion if that’s what’s required. If you’d actually prefer to hear less of this kind of thing on your audio, then the Noise Reduction tool can help to clean up your recordings, as well as reducing common issues like wind noise -- don’t expect too much from the latter, though, as it’s a bit hit and miss.

Moving on to the video side of things, and you’ll find that the existing effects, transitions and DVD menu templates are largely unchanged, although the new tools will be of particular interest to anyone whose footage might not be as good as they’d like. For instances where artificial light has turned your video rather blue or yellow, the colour correction tool can help, performing a similar function as the one-touch white balance function found in the feature set of Matrox’s RT.X-based hardware. If you’re working with analogue video captures, then video noise is likely to be a problem. This is where the noise reduction tool comes in handy, reducing speckle and grain in particularly effected areas. Like the wind cut feature, this tool won’t perform miracles, but tweaking the settings can significantly improve the appearance of grainy material without distorting the overall image too drastically. Finally, the stabilise function acts in much the same way as the digital image stabiliser of digital camcorders to help reduce camera shake, although the caveat here is that you lose around a fifth of the overall picture definition in the process.

Many of these new additions are fairly processor intensive, but the fact that Studio 9 has inherited the background rendering of its more expensive stablemate, Liquid Edition, means that you can continue to edit while the software renders the clip. This is also useful when you’ve stacked up more effects than your system can handle in real time. Of course, if you can’t be bothered with editing at all, Pinnacle has added the new AutoMovie function, bringing it in line with software like Roxio’s VideoWave, Muvee AutoProducer and Windows MovieMaker 2. AutoMovie lets you automatically build a music video by selecting clips, a theme and a backing track, whereupon the software does the rest.

There are still features that we’d like to see added to Pinnacle Studio, however. Having a second video track like Ulead’s VideoStudio 7 would be nice, and preview across FireWire would eliminate the need for a dual-head graphics card for TV previews. It’s still a little sluggish when it comes to rendering, too, and the MPEG2 encoding options are still rather basic for our liking. That said, it’s as easy to use as it ever was, and the new toolset and interface tweaks are more than welcome, making this an excellent choice for the novice or intermediate video editor.

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