Pinnacle Studio 21 Review Part Two

So first of all we probably need to clarify something when it comes to writing any Pinnacle Studio 21 review.

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 trial.

User Interface

So let’s start off with the user interface and there is no point pulling any punches here.

Up until this version of Pinnacle Studio the user interface was a certifiable mess.

It started off in life messy and became more complicated and from there with the addition of every new feature… until now.

As of Pinnacle Studio 21 and given the enormous amount of features and controls you need to have access to, this is now one of the most user friendly and intuitive user interfaces on the market.

Corel have always openly admitted that getting to use the full power and control of Pinnacle Studio would require that you go through a steep learning curve.

Whilst of course this remains true as it does for any video editing software, the new interface makes it far easier to do so.

The reality is that Pinnacle is just jam packed with features so access to those features has to go somewhere but with this version they have certainly made it a whole lot less painful.

However, if you do invest just a little 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 still ships with a free 21 day access pass to Studio Backlot which has a comprehensive course specifically designed for new Pinnacle Studio users.

Across the top of the screen in the image above you can see that the software separates into three main tabs which cover the general sequence of editing a project.

They are Import, Edit and Export.


As you can see from the image below all available sources of video, audio or image assets are listed across the top of the screen plus the ability to scan for assets as well as set up a stop motion project.

On the left hand side of the screen you can choose whether to import assets into a designated folder or just link to them on your computer.

You can then delete or keep the originals after import, ignore duplicates or not as well as enter a naming protocol for the files as they are brought in.

You can also set default location for each different type of asset whether video, audio or image as well as set up your own folder hierarchy to keep everything organized and accessible.


Under the Edit tab the power of the new interface really starts to come into play.

In the image below you can see the general layout of that workspace.

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 2100 (Yup! 2100) 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 and fine tuned to suit your needs once dragged onto the timeline or clip in question.

Included in the Ultimate version are a full range of effects from NewBlue consisting of their Video Essentials II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, Film Effects, their excellent Stabilizer module and the Paint Effect.

The video below highlights the new Paint feature.

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 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.

Green Screen

Pinnacle also handles green screen sequences at a very sophisticated level and becuase of its superior control, can be very forgiving of chroma-key sequences that were not shot particularly well.

Audio Ducking

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.

Multicam Editing

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 Export tab opens up a fully loaded production module in which you can output your projects to all common and some exotic video formats.

Pinnacle Studio 21 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 plenty of preset options you can use for output and 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 of preset parameters for your projects or take full control and set codecs, bitrates, frame rates and resolution to exactly how you want it.

Disc Burning

The Disc Burning function has been removed from the Export tab to make things less cluttered and it can now be accessed by simply clicking a button in the Edit Tab which takes you immediately to the rendering module to create the final file to be used.

Once that file is created the MyDVD module opens and you are ready to begin designing your DVD or Blu-ray disc menus, chapters etc.

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.

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 21 for editing.


In reviewing Pinnacle Studio 21 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 21 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 still a bit of a learning curve to go through both in terms of the user interface even though in this version it has been improved out of sight.

The sheer power and range of features means that there is a whole lot of stuff to get through!

On the upside, anyone willing to go through that learning curve 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 21 Ultimate.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 21

Click Here to Read Part One of the Pinnacle Studio 21 Review

4.5 / 5 stars     
Pinnacle Studio 21 Review Part Two was last modified: August 24th, 2017 by Lance Carr

37 comments to Pinnacle Studio 21 Review Part Two

  • Lea

    I have followed all the instruction on the pinnacle studio 20. To Edit DVD but it will not play in my dvd but on my computer. What should I do.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Lea,
      This could be due to many, many things but if the DVD plays on the computer but not the play then the problem may be the play.
      That player may not like the type of discs you are using.

      Have you tried going to the Pinnacle Users forum to get help?

  • 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.

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