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Pinnacle Studio HD 14 Ultimate Collection review

Ben Pitt
14 Jul 2010
Pinnacle Studio HD 14 Ultimate Collection
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
82
inc VAT

More video tracks would be welcome, but the polished, friendly interface and superior effects bundle make it worth the high price

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Pinnacle Studio was there right at the beginning of the home video-editing revolution, and it’s a credit to its developers that its interface still feels uncluttered and inviting. Its years of reliability problems appear to be behind it, and Studio finally succeeds in providing a friendly editing environment that’s particularly well suited to newcomers. Some of the buttons’ icons are a little cryptic, but otherwise, the interface is quick to get to grips with, and the timeline controls are responsive.

Despite its apparent simplicity, there are some sophisticated features here. The animated titles designer has been overhauled in this latest version and is much classier than in most home-oriented editors. It’s also finally possible to resize the preview window to make the most of high-resolution monitors. Alternatively, a second monitor can be used for full-screen previews.

Background rendering enables smooth previews of complex effects by creating temporary files of the timeline’s contents. However, unlike proxy editing systems that generate lower-resolution copies of the original HD footage, this one isn’t so helpful for those who want to edit HD video on slower PCs. Studio’s biggest weakness is the inclusion of just two video tracks. It’s unlikely to hinder straightforward home-video projects but it could prove frustrating for creative tasks such as elaborate intro sequences.

The effects library is better than most, with capable colour correction and chroma keying. The latter is aided by a green screen backdrop that’s included in the box. There are some fun special effects that might actually come in useful, such as Earthquake, which shakes the picture violently. If you’re trying to remove rather than introduce shakes, the revamped stabilisation is a vast improvement on previous efforts, and is worth using on virtually all handheld shots. It produces very similar results to Sony Vegas Move Studio HD Platinum’s stabilisation, but Pinnacle’s version has the advantage of being able to adjust how much the picture is cropped by.

A third-party effect, Magic Bullet Looks, produces a spectacular assortment of film-simulation, tinting, diffusion and radical colour processing effects. It comes with some excellent presets plus comprehensive controls with which to customise them. If you’ve ever watched a behind-the-scenes documentary on a DVD’s extra features and wondered why the colours in the film look so much better than in the documentary footage, the answer is partly because of effects like this one.

Studio HD 14 Ultimate Collection is more expensive than its competitors, and that feels at odds with the beginner-oriented controls and limitation to just two video tracks. This isn’t the only version of Studio, though. Studio HD 14 Ultimate (without the Collection suffix) costs £70 including VAT and omits the green screen backdrop and six of the more interesting effects including Magic Bullet Looks. Lose the word Ultimate too and you get Studio HD, which costs £45 and lacks Blu-ray authoring, animated titles and keyframe editing for effects settings that change over time. However, unlike previous entry-level versions, it does support HD, includes the overlay video track and can create AVCHD discs, allowing HD playback in the living room without the expense of a Blu-ray writer for your PC.

It’s the Ultimate Collection that gets our vote, though, if only for the fantastic Magic Bullet Looks effect. This and the high quality stabilisation make it an excellent choice for those who want to produce home movies to the highest standard.

Details

Price£82
Detailswww.pinnaclesys.com
Rating****

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