Pinnacle Studio 20 Review Part Two

Pinnacle Studio product range

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.

User Interface

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?

Pinnacle Studio 20 user interface

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.

Screen Recording

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.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 20

Click Here to Read Part One of the Pinnacle Studio 20 Review

4.5 / 5 stars     
Pinnacle Studio 20 Review Part Two was last modified: February 8th, 2017 by Lance Carr

35 comments to Pinnacle Studio 20 Review Part Two

  • Wayne

    Thanks Lance,
    If Pinnacle had given me a response like that 6 months ago, I might have had a hope of success. It certainly DOES sound like I have a resource problem, but it doesn’t help that Pinnacle 19.5 produces a seemingly perfect XAVC S .mp4 output file (albeit after 3 hours of chugging away) and reports no errors during the process.
    Interestingly I only have this problem if my output setting is “Sony XAVC S, Ultra HD 4K”. I thought this output setting was appropriate since this is the format produced by my Sony camera, however if I change the output setting to “MPEG-4, Ultra HD 4K” then 3 hours later a 36 minute long .mp4 file is produced which does indeed play. The quality of the video is mostly quite good, but on fast motion there is a disturbing amount of artifact that is NOT present in the RAW files from my Sony Camera (for example the uniform parts of the image like the sky and the sea look like a patchwork quilt that jerks along as I pan from side to side).
    Resource wise, I have done everything possible to ensure that my computer is fast enough for Pinnacle. I recently upgraded to a SSD, I upgraded RAM to 16GB, and I am running a 4th generation Intel i7 (and now wondering if I should upgrade further to a 7th generation i7?). But still no luck producing a 36 minute XAVC S movie that doesn’t have a ton of artifact.
    Thank you once again for your most amusing, and yet informative and logical response,
    Kindest regards,

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Wayne,
      Meant to get back to you sooner but have been wrestling with a pesky RAM problem on my aging computer.

      First up it has been my experience that any sentence containing the word “Sony” means we are heading for trouble!

      They have an annoying way of taking a perfectly good codec or whatever that everyone is getting along fine with and screwing it in some proprietary way then naming it Sony (insert codec name her.)

      Taking a step back here the bottom line is you are using RAW video and that just takes bucket loads of resources to deal with in the first place and then converting to HD H.264 formats which requires a whole bunch more buckets.

      Seriously, do you know anyone at Pixar, they have a really big computer!

      You are basically right on the bleeding edge of what consumer level computers and software are capable of.
      If you can afford more resources then go for it!

  • Wayne

    Hi Lance,
    I have Pinnacle Studio version 19.5 and I have a Sony video camera that produces 4K XAVC-S as .mp4 files. 2 Questions if I may please?
    1) I have edited (using ver 19.5) my RAW files from the Sony camera to make a 36 minute movie of a recent holiday. When I attempt to export, no errors are reported and export is a success, however the output .MP4 file it produces will not play. If I split my movie into 2 shorter 18 minute pieces, then they both play. Any idea why? Do you think an upgrade to Pinnacle 20 will solve this problem? I have put this same question to the Pinnacle help desk and they have not helped at all, they simply said they were passing my question to the engineering team, who, 6 months later, have completely ignored all my follow up e-mails, and haven’t offered any solution.
    2) On my Sony camera I can choose between different modes of capturing, XAVC-S 4K mode is the highest resolution but it captures at only 25frames/sec, while XAVC-S HD mode is lower resolution but captures at 50 frames/sec. So I tend to capture slow moving scenes in 4K 25 frames/s mode and fast action in HD 50 frames/s mode. How can I put everything together in a single edited movie using Pinnacle 19, without losing resolution or speed (frames/sec). I do not want slow shots to be low resolution or fast shots to appear jerky.
    Any advice will be most welcome?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Wayne,
      The information you have provided and the response from Pinnacle speaks volumes in your case.

      Here is what they should have said:

      Hi Wayne and thanks for reaching out to our Help section. (Note that we are all “reaching out” these days.)

      We have taken a look at the problem and compared it to bug and crash reports within our system as well as on the forums to see if there have been other reports of this happening.

      We have also tried to recreate the scenario in our own test facilities but unfortunately have not been able to do so.

      This means that we cannot actually call it a bug due to how localized the problem is.

      Given that you seem to be the only person having this problem we have come across so far and on a localization scale of one to ten yours scores an eleven!

      That makes you very special.

      Generally speaking in cases such as this the cause of the problem comes down to resources.

      When you are creating the longer projects there is probably a point where your computer begins to lag behind until a sort of critical mass gets hit.

      From that point forward it all goes to hell in a basket and although you end up with what seems to be a video file… it really isn’t because it won’t play.

      You see it is all very well for our software to sit atop the food chain issuing orders to the minions below.

      The real question is whether or not the minions can keep up, and by minions I mean the CPU, the Motherboard, the RAM and the Hard Drive.

      Even if the minions fall just a little behind it all starts to snowball very quickly.

      The good news is that the system didn’t crash so I am sure that makes you feel so much better!

      Our advice would be to attempt to render the full file again BUT!

      Check to see if you need a defrag first, then make sure every non-essential process on the computer is shut down and disconnect from the internet as well, THEN do the render and see how you go.

      As far as updating goes it may help the situation in that we are constantly correcting and optimizing the software as we go but we can’t be sure of that as your problem was never considered to be a bug per the strict definition.

      Your truly,
      Pinnacle Support.

      OK, Wayne to the second part of your question:

      The short answer is you can’t!

      See? That was easy!

      Mixing 4K and standard HD resolution as well as frame rates means something has to give at some point.

      Your final output will have to be at ONE resolution and ONE frame rate.

      You already know the downsides of changing the resolutions and frame rates on things so really.

      You don’t need me to tell you all this and remember this is not a “Pinnacle” problem, it is a formatting problem.

      Now obviously if you have access to Pixar’s Renderman setup you can do what you please but down here at the consumer end of the market we have what we have.

      Pick a resolution and frame rate and stick to it.

      Besides, just because something is not 4K doesn’t mean it is low res! Let’s keep things in perspective here!

  • William Carlisle

    I know have version 20… have many of the past editions and have been using these for a long time… this version and 17, 19 i have had a problem with export. Advance setting of more than one bluray copy and it comes up with CerrorC after the first burn… disc has been completed and will play but will not make additional copies.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi William,
      Although most video editing suites will offer the choice of burning multiple discs it is still an area that creates problems.

      I am not sure why but my guess is that they are not actually designed to do this and probably start to choke the machine’s RAM trying to hold all the data.

      Have you just tried to make a disc image file, close the program, then use the disc burning module to simply burn multiple discs using the image file?

  • Jim

    Hello All…

    I have a quick question concerning the new ‘Studio Ultimate 20 and its “4K” capabilities… Do they actually exist..? I am currently working on a project that was videoed in 4K resolution and I did what I needed to in ‘Studio and when I went to Burn a Blu-Ray with my Originally Recorded 4K video footage, I was first presented with a Purchase order for a Blu-Ray Authoring Plug-in. But while I was there going through my settings I noticed that I can’t find a single reference to “Anything” 4K… And I’ve spent almost an hour looking through YouTube videos and again, I can’t find anything concerning 4K Output/Export/or Whatever’port when it comes to Studio Ultimate 20..?

    What Gives,.. can it or can’t it..?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Jim,
      Pinnacle’s 4K capabilities are that it can import and export most modern file formats that go up to 4K resolution.

      Witness to this is the fact that you imported 4K files and edited them.

      Probably the real problem you are running into is that yes, the blu-ray burning module is not included and requires the purchase of a separate licence upgrade. (plus the fact that you have a Blu-ray burner!)

      So with your project on the timeline go to Export and choose MP4 and you will find under the Advanced setting, 4K.

  • Nello

    Hi Lance,
    I started out with the prehistoric Pinnacle Studio 100, later went on to Studio 8.
    Since then I haven’t done any video-editing anymore.
    The capabilities of video-editing software have improved a lot since those days.
    Do you think it would be wise for me to buy Studio 20, regarding the experience I have on the Pinnacle-range, or should I go for Power Director?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Nello,
      My advice on this is pretty straightforward.

      If you still have vague memories of using Pinnacle then stick with that because the differences between Pinnacle and PowerDirector in the interface will annoy you.

      PowerDirector is easier to get up to speed with provided you have NO experience with another editor.

      Or, alternately download the trial of PD first, have a play and see what you think.

      Either way with the pair of them you can go wrong.

  • Doug

    Hi Lance,

    I’m currently running Pinnacle Studio 14. My issue with it is that I cannot just drop a 1080 .AVI video into the time line, nor can I get it to open one via the file menu. Does Studio 20 fix this issue? I’d buy the upgrade today if it did. I don’t want to have to convert .AVI files into MPEG, etc just to get it into the time line.


    • Lance Carr

      Hi Doug,
      Unfortunately there are about 800 different types of video file that have the extension of .avi.

      The real problem here is that I have no idea what video codec was used to create the avi file in the first place.

      Because of that I cannot give you a definitive answer to your question.

      If you provide me with a little more information I can help you.

      Can you let me know how these files were created or where you are getting them from?

      Even if you just let me know the device being used to get them or create them or even the source of them I can work it out for you and let you know.

  • Bob Roach

    Does the Pinnacle 20 Ultimate have a good stabilizer built in [ like NewBlueFX stabilizer]. I think the NewBlueFX you have to buy extra at US$100?
    I have taken lots of 4K video, I think Pinnacle 20 Ult. will handle this, but I am 82 years old and a lot of my videos have shake, and I need to edit this out.
    So is the Pinnacle 20 Ult. as it comes good enough, or is it best to buy extra the NewBlueFX version?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Bob,
      Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 20 comes with the New Blue stabilizer fully loaded and ready to go!

      The question of whether or not the software can handle 4K video is a tad off track.

      Yes, the software can handle it but the real question is, can your computer handle it?

      4K is resource intensive by itself but when you start adding effects especially like stabilizers that re-render the footage on the fly things can get a little hairy.

      Provided your computer is reasonably well endowed and you don’t go crazy scrubbing through the timeline like a maniac you should be fine.

  • Nicholas

    I want to buy pinacle studio 20 and am in Kenya how can i do that?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Nicholas,
      I am sorry but I have no idea!

      If you click on the link above doesn’t it take you to the Pinnacle site or is online buying difficult from Kenya?

  • Cees

    Hi, I used Pinnacle 15 and prefered to edit alond the Story Line. Does Pinnacle 20 has such a feature or does it has only a Time Line? Kind regards, Cees Ladage The Netherlands.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Cees,
      I just checked and the Storyboard view works exactly the same in 20 as it does in your copy of version 15.

  • Lee macleod

    Hi is pinnacle studio 20 ultimate compatible with bullet looks or is it just avid studio. On that note is avid studio pis rather somilar looking to punnacle studio. I have seen this add on ( bullet looks ) and its exactly what i have been looking for. No point purchasing it if it won’t work. Thanks for any advice you can give me

  • Cedric


    I have been debating recently between Corel x9.5, Powerdirector 15 Ultimate. I saw this website and learnt about Pinnacle 20.
    The long and short of it is, i’ve never used a video editing program before.

    I downloaded powerdirector and corel trial versions, found that the effects libraries weren’t that extensive? In powerdirector especially, maybe that’s the trial versions. I was also worried about the clips limit in corel- I have lots of gopro footage.

    Thing is, I went to NZ and AU recently, and want to make a whopper video out of all the gopro footage I have. So am I right in thinking pinnacle is the program I should use?
    I don’t mind at all having to go through a learning curve- after all, what’s life if we stop learning new things? 🙂

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Cedric,
      I think you will find that with Corel and CyberLink the effects libraries are way beyond what you would ever need!

      Bear in mind that if the interface provided direct access to everything at once there would be nothing but a screen full of buttons with no space for the timeline, preview screen and libraries!

      Most of the editors these days will offer access to the effects and once you go for one type then a whole new world opens up.

      I am not sure what you mean by “clip limit” in the Corel product. Did you mean a limit on the number of tracks you can use at once?

      If so Corel offers 21 video tracks and 4 to 8 audio tracks depending on the version you are looking at.

      I can’t imaging how you could possibly think that you need more! Perhaps you have misunderstood the concept of tracks as opposed to clips.

      There is no limit to the number of clips you can add as long as you computer can handle it.

      The bottom line is they are all quite even as far as their abilities go.

      Pinnacle and PowerDirector are both about the same and only beat Corel out by a whisker.

      To be honest you can’t really go wrong with any one of them but please bear in mind that if you are going to make “a whopper” of a video you will need ample space on your hard drive, lots of RAM and a good CPU.


  • Rod Hillis

    Can you create a DVD disk that will play HD video at Bluray resolution?
    I know it will not have the capacity to play long videos. But I just want it for 10 to 15 minute short videos?


    • Lance Carr

      Hi Rod,
      The short answer to that question is yes.

      You just open the separate MyDVD program and select AVCHD from the three choices of DVD, AVCHD and Blu-ray.

      Proceed from there.

      Bear in mind that the playback device you use must be able to recognize this format.

  • Tony

    “To start a project you must first create a bin for that project and then import your assets.”

    Just a note. You don’t have to create a Project Bin to start editing. You can use Collections and/or Watchfolders to get your assets into the program.

  • Tony

    Thanks for a comprehensive review of the product. I’ve been using it since it’s release.

    There is a patch out now to fix issues some people were having.

    I do like the way it edits as the “pros” do with overlay being just that. Overlaying on top of the video.

    Coming from Avid Liquid, it’s hard for me to edit “upside down” as the other consumer editors and legacy Studio do.

    I do have PD, Magix and VSP and a couple of “pro” editors.

    But because of the keyboard shortcuts (that can be programmed), along with any track being anything I want it to be (and not specific to say, audio only), it saves monitor real estate and speeds up my editing.

    Does it have problems?

    Of course. Every editor does.
    But for “me”, it’s been fairly stable.

    There are so many options when editing, that sometimes, I am the limiting factor.

    On top of that, Smartsound makes a plugin for it (I have always used SonicFire Pro) and so does Neat Video.

    In addition, I have Red Giant Motion Graphics Toolkit (Knoll, Shine, Warp, Particular) and Filmmaker Toolkit (Magic Bullet Looks, Mojo, Cosmo) all from PS17U, along with Boris Graffiti, making this for “me”, the most feature rich “consumer” editor.

  • Carlos Botana

    Hi Ed, I’m a amateur video editor, I’ve been using Pinnacle 14 for a while and I’m quite familiar with the interface. It has its drawbacks, mainly stability, but one of the things I like most is the capability to do most of the usual stuff with keyboard shortcuts. In my experience that speeds up things a lot. Is this feature still present in this version?

    Another thing that is important to me is soundtrack controls. I put a lot of effort in making that sound “went together well” with image, in Pinnacle 14 it really difficult to accomplish this. Are there any new tools in this version?



    p.s. It’s absolutely true what you say about the learning curve, that’s the reason why I stick to Pinnacle, but if i have to start all over again, would you recommend me another video editor?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Carlos,

      OK, on the keyboard shortcuts question, yes it is still a feature of the program and probably always will be.

      As far as audio goes I am not familiar with how it was in version 14 but now in 20 it is pretty good.

      They have added an automatic audio ducking module that scans the timeline and identifies when there is a narration or voice over track playing and automatically reduces the background music. Big time saver there.

      They have a kind of sound track feature that lets you add a background track to a project and it automatically times that track to finish or start at the right point. So instead of cutting off some background music or having it fade out mid song, this one re-creates the original music to the exact length you need.

      If you double click on a clip or a project then a new module opens up allowing you to make changes to the audio like de-essing, noise removal and a bunch of other stuff.

      As far as I can see it offer probably the most advanced audio tools except for PowerDirector Ultimate Suite which ship with a separate audio program.

  • Ed

    Hi Lance,
    I’m unsure whether to buy Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate, or Sony Vegas Movie Suite. Both sound good and are a similar price, but which one should I get?
    I’m fairly new to editing but I’m happy to undergo a steep learning curve.


    • Lance Carr

      Hi Ed,
      OK, the reality is that they are pretty close as products and by going for one over the other you won’t be missing out on anything.

      I always strongly recommend downloading free trials and taking them for a spin on your computer even though you have no idea what you are doing!!!

      The only point I would add right now is that Sony Vegas Movie Studio was recently sold to the Magix company.

      Magix make another great editor called Movie Edit Pro but are fully committed to developing the Sony product into the future.

      Right now Magix are probably gearing up to release the first update of Vegas Movie Studio under their banner and history tells us that may have a few “problems?

      • Ed

        Thanks Lance.
        In that case I’m going to go for pinnacle as it’s cheaper. They won’t let me do a trial unfortunately but I can get my money back within 30 days if I don’t like it.

        Thanks for your help.


  • Neil Leum

    Can Pinnacle 20 be used to create a slide show plus video clips and then write it to a DVD to be shown on a TV DVD reader or on a PC?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Neil,
      Absolutely it can.
      All you have to do is drag the images and video clips you have onto the timeline.
      Arrange them in sequence, set the time for how long you want the still images to display on the screen, add title music whatever then you can burn a DVD directly from there.
      DVD is also a set of standards so it will play on anything that plays DVDs.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>