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Avid Studio review

Ben Pitt
18 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
135
inc VAT

An impressive new editor that attempts to bring the best of all worlds to consumer video production – and almost succeeds.

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Pinnacle Studio has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. It was among the first consumer video-editing packages for PC, but it spent most of the last decade getting negative reviews from us – and countless user forum posts – for its reliability problems. The last couple of versions have been much more stable, though, and that possibly explains why its makers have deemed it ready for a rebranding exercise – and a serious injection of power.

There are four new versions of Studio, starting at £55 inc VAT for Pinnacle Studio HD 15. Studio HD Ultimate 15 (£75) adds Blu-ray authoring, animated titles, a couple of extra effects and more disc menu templates. Studio HD Ultimate Collection 15 (£95) bundles yet more effects and templates plus a 5x6-foot green sheet for chroma key effects. These three versions were all available as version 14 releases, and while they build on strong foundations, the new features are few and far between: there's an archiving utility, MKV and YouTube HD exports, performance optimisation but little else.

Those looking to upgrade are better off turning to the new flagship version. It loses the Pinnacle brand in favour of its parent company Avid, going by the name Avid Studio. That's confusing, as it's still based on Pinnacle Studio and has nothing to do with Avid Vocal Studio or Avid Recording Studio, both of which are music-production packages. The rebranding exercise is justified, though. Although its relationship to Pinnacle Studio is clear, there's enough that's new to make it feel like a distinct product – and one that's aimed at enthusiasts rather than casual users.

Avid Main

The biggest change is unlimited tracks. Pinnacle Studio has just two video tracks, so elaborate montages aren't possible. Thankfully, Avid Studio's unlimited tracks are backed up by impressive performance, so building complex scenes from multiple video clips needn't cripple the preview display. It managed five simultaneous AVCHD streams on our Core i7 870 PC before it began to drop frames – a result that's second only to Cyberlink PowerDirector 9 Ultra64 with its eight AVCHD streams on the same PC. Avid Studio took a few seconds to prepare itself for playback in these complex parts of the timeline, which could be frustrating when fine-tuning edits. However, once fine-tuning was complete, a background rendering function kicked in to ensure smooth, responsive previews, regardless of timeline complexity.

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