So first of all we probably need to clarify something when it comes to writing any kind of review on Pinnacle Studio 20.
This is a big program, and by that I don’t mean that it is some ridiculously big download or occupies vast regions of your hard drive.
What I mean is that the features of this thing just go on and on and on and if I were to go through all of them in this review, well the review itself would similarly go on and on and on!
What I will do is try to cover the main points and then if you feel interested you can go to the Pinnacle site and download the free trial.
So let’s start off with the user interface and there is no point pulling any punches here.
Check out this image… kind of busy huh?
As Corel themselves openly admit, using Pinnacle Studio will require that you go through a learning curve.
That’s true for just about all video editing software but in the case of Pinnacle even more so.
The reality is that Pinnacle is just jam packed with features so access to those features has to go somewhere!
On top of that the software has followed a design and development path that leads directly back to the darkened rooms of the original movie editors.
The result is an interface that will require some learning and some practice before you get up to speed with it.
On the plus side, if you do invest the time into learning it you will be able to exercise a level of control offered by no other software at this price point in the market.
To help with that learning curve the program ships with free 21 day access to Studio Backlot which has a comprehensive course specifically designed for new Pinnacle Studio users.
Across the top of the screen you can see that the software separates into three tabs which cover the general sequence of editing a project.
They are Organize, Edit and Author.
In this part of the software things look a lot different to your average consumer level video editing software.
Here you come across the first professional feature you will encounter which is the subject of Bins.
Bins are the equivalent of the library and are a way of importing video, audio and image assets into the program and organizing them for a specific project.
This system is derived directly from the days of movie film editing where the editor had to organize and keep track of thousands of feet of film.
He or she would have a series of actual bins where the sequences of film were kept throughout the editing process.
The bin system forces the user to get organized before the editing process gets underway.
To start a project you must first create a bin for that project and then import your assets.
You can then organize them into sub-bins so you are only dealing with the assets you are using in that project at any time.
It is easily a superior system but not used in your average amateur video editors because of its unfamiliarity.
It also integrates with the new Stop Motion module to automatically add footage.
As far as the editing tab goes there really is not a lot to say on this.
Pinnacle Studio cuts, slices and dices as you would expect any editor to do and it does it with ease.
You have frame accurate editing, key frame capability for any effects or changes, over 2000 (Yup! 2000) different types of filters, effects, transitions and audio effects at your disposal.
All of the above come in a preset form but the vast majority can then be manually adjusted to suit your needs once dragged onto the timeline.
Included in the Ultimate version are a full range of effects from NewBlue consisting of their Video Essentials 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, Light Bends, Film Effects and their excellent Stabilizer module.
There is a motion tracking module which comes in two forms to suit different tasks, end to end 360° editing, multicam editing, unlimited tracks and compatibility with all common file types including the professional ones like DVCPRO HD, XAVCS and all up to 4K resolution.
The video below highlights the new track transparency feature.
The suite also has stop motion capability, a bunch of automatic correction tools for adjusting color, red-eye and a host of other common errors most often found in footage.
It has a music generation module that fits a background music track to suit the length and mood of your project or you can simply add your own music or voice track.
There is a complete titling module and you have full control over titles or overlays offering the ability to not only fade in and out as you want but to easily adjust the opacity of the overlay on a key frame basis.
Pinnacle also handles green screen sequences at a very sophisticated level and can be very forgiving of chroma-key sequences that were not shot particularly well.
The program also offers an audio ducking feature that can automatically adjust background music volume up or down depending on the presence of a narration or voice track.
The module itself can be adjusted as to how far the volume is adjusted and how sensitive it is to other sounds present in other tracks.
The multi-cam editor is particularly useful these days with most of having access to footage of events from more than one source.
It can analyze these sources a few different ways to attempt syncing them all together or you can do it manually.
Once synced, the footage can be edited in the same way a live T.V. production occurs by simply “switching” between cameras to get what you want.
To be honest I can’t think of anything that isn’t covered here!.
The Author tab opens up a fully loaded production module that incorporates the DVD or Blu-ray creation process as well as output to common uploading services.
It comes with about 100 preset templates all of which can be adjusted to suit every aspect of the disc authoring process.
You have complete control over menus, sub-menus, chapter points and the entire burning process allowing you to create plains discs or multimedia extravaganzas.
Pinnacle Studio 20 also connects to YouTube, FaceBook, Flickr and Vimeo from inside the program so you can directly upload to these services from within the interface.
There are a number of preset options you can use for uploading which are based on each service’s “best practices” at the moment or if you like you can step in and control the entire process yourself.
Regardless of your file rendering choice you can use a whole bunch preset parameters for your projects or take full control and set codecs, bitrates, frame rates and resolution to exactly how you want it.
On top of the main editor the product also ships with a fully integrated screen recording module which can either be launched from within the program or as separate software.
Once you have finished the screen recording you can simply save to a video file for editing later or have that file saved and loaded immediately into Pinnacle Studio 20 for editing.
In reviewing Pinnacle Studio 20 there a few main point to consider if you think this may be suited to your editing needs.
The program comes at three levels and you can compare them HERE but!
Unless you are going to be using the full array of features only offered at the Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate level then going for the other lower levels seems pointless to me.
It would be like buying a V8 supercar and then swapping the engine out for a compact four cylinder engine!
On the downside there is a bit of a learning curve to go through both in terms of the user interface and how to go about things but on the upside, anyone willing to go through it will be richly rewarded.
The software has a very active and engaged user to user forum for anyone needing help and Corel themselves are also actively engaged in the development and support of the product.
All in all if you are looking for a video editing beast that offers an end to end solution you would be well served by Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate.