Before we get into this Pinnacle Studio 21 review I have to mention that this is only the third time I have added it to this website.
There are some important historical reasons for that so before you read any further let’s address the elephant in the room.
Pinnacle Studio was one of the first commercially available video editors that appeared at the dawn of the digital video age and is one of the oldest video editing products that is still around today.
It has had a chequered history for a number of reasons and it has only been until recently that some major overhauls by Corel have pulled it all together into the product it always promised to be but never quite was.
If you want to read the full story, I did a blog post on it a while back which covers all the whys and wherefores of the product’s history and you can see it here.
Suffice to say the only reason I finally added a Pinnacle Studio 21 review is that Corel, since taking it over back in 2012, have done a mighty job in getting it back on track and running smoothly.
I could have safely done a Pinnacle Studio review at around version 18 or 19 but I wanted to leave it for a while just to see where Corel were going to take the product and if they were really serious about its continued development.
So here we are at Pinnacle Studio 21 and with this newest update I think I can say that Corel’s original task of stabilizing Pinnacle and bringing it fully into the present is complete.
This latest update to me is a major milestone in Pinnacle’s development which marks the point where the program has been reworked and redesigned to allow the user to take full advantage of all the power it has to offer.
I feel very confident in recommending it to anyone looking for video editing software at the more sophisticated end of the consumer or amateur video editing market.
Why Pinnacle Studio?
If you hadn’t already gathered it, the basic purpose of every review on this site is to only include software I have tested myself and found to be acceptable.
This is all in an effort to try to at least simplify the decision making process in choosing a video editor.
The difficulty in this field is that there are about 6 or 7 main contenders, all of them good at what they do and the differences between them are minute.
This apparent “sameness” makes choosing the right one for you very difficult because it is so hard to tell them apart.
So before I get into the Pinnacle Studio review proper let’s just cover what makes it different to the rest of the pack.
The answer to that question could be summed up in one word, control.
Pinnacle Studio does not pack any different features or capabilities than any of its competition so let’s be clear on that.
What it does offer is an abundance of those features all of which are presented in a way designed to allow the user to exert a level of control almost at the standard of fully professional software.
In fact Pinnacle Studio 21 is as close as you can get to a professional video editor while still staying within a “drag’n’drop” style interface without the complication and hefty price tag.
So as is my habit let’s first take a look at the obligatory cheesy promo video to get a bit of a feel for what the program can do and how it looks.
What’s New and Improved?
On page two of this Pinnacle Studio 21 review I will go over the individual features of the program but first let’s take a look at what’s new in this latest version.
This is not a new feature but is the biggest talking point you will hit if you look at the reputation of Pinnacle anywhere else online.
Early versions of Pinnacle always had a pretty bad reputation for being, shall we say quirky?
Translated into straight talk that means it was buggy and had a tendency to freeze and crash generally at the point where you really didn’t want it to do that! (Not that there is ever a point where you want it to!)
Through versions 18 and 19 Corel concentrated the majority of their efforts into getting the software right as it stood rather than trying to madly add new features.
Although it took a few versions to get it done, they have turned the program around and have gotten it working as a stable platform upon which they could embark on future development.
I know this because I have spent the past few days mindlessly scrubbing through the timeline and rushing through actions all in an effort to get it to crash and it has taken it all with good grace.
The best I could get was a little lag every now and then while my computer caught up with my manic actions!
I also know this because I have been recommending his software for a full year now and have had only four queries from users regarding bugs or crashing problems.
In every one of those cases the problem was tracked down to either a computer resources problem or some kind of file corruption within the video assets the user was using.
The days of glibly stating that “Pinnacle Studio is buggy” are well and truly over.
The New Interface
In keeping with Corel’s development plan for Pinnacle Studio, in version 21 they have addressed probably the final step in bringing the software fully up to date.
There has NEVER been a problem with Pinnacle when it came to features, power and control.
There has ALWAYS been a problem for the average person to slowly pick their way through the maze of buttons, knobs, icons and dials trying to work out what it all means and then access and adjust those features!
In this version of Pinnacle the user interface has not just been tidied up a bit or slightly re-arranged.
This is a total redesign and quite frankly is astoundingly good.
Somehow they have managed to completely simplify the whole thing while at the same time introducing a level of customization which in my opinion is the best I have seen in this class of video editing program.
Do I sound like I am getting a bit gushy like the marketing guys at Corel? Probably, but with good reason.
You can customize the workspace to pretty much however you want, you can detach windows and place them aside or on to a second monitor.
You can create shortcuts for just about anything, organize your media however you want and save favorite effects to a separate folder.
More importantly you can hide or show various parts of the editing space depending on what you are editing so that visually everything looks clean, uncluttered and distraction free.
The tabs at the top of the screen have been cut down to just three choices of Import. Edit and Export and once you choose one, only the relevant parts of the program become available.
All in all I would say that the Pinnacle Studio 21 user interface now stands as one of the most intuitive and user friendly interfaces at this level of the video editing market and if you said I would be writing that sentence a year ago I would have thought you were delusional!
OK so this is almost as awesome as the new interface.
Check out the video below to see what the Morph Transitions module does.
One of the main features used to “sell” video editing software at the consumer level is prepackaged transitions.
When they say, “It’s got a gazillion transitions” the average person is given the impression that they are getting something of value and are attracted by that.
Unfortunately there is NOTHING that brands your video as “amateur” more quickly and more certainly than by the use of a bunch of cheesy transitions!
They all look awesome to begin with but once you start using them their real value very quickly becomes apparent… which is next to nothing.
The pro’s actually create their own individual transitions for changes between shots using all sorts of tools to achieve it.
One of those techniques is to morph the end of the first clip into the beginning of the second which allows a seamless shift from one to the other.
Pinnacle Studio now has the ability to do that with the introduction of a Morph Transitions module which in keeping with the Pinnacle tradition, allows full control over how the morph occurs.
Titles and Overlays
The Titles and Overlays module has been introduced to allow images, videos or graphics to be overlayed onto the base video with a whole bunch of animations to choose from or create your own.
They have also added 3D text effects with an inbuilt 3D text editor.
Paint or animation effects can be dragged on to clips to give a cartoon or “painting” look to any footage.
360 Video Formats
In keeping with the development of 360 degree footage, support for newer formats such as equirectangular, fisheye and dual fisheye has been extended for import, edit and export.
Wide-Angle Lens Correction
Most video editing software these days will have at least some kind of filter for the correction of wide angle lens distortion.
It’s kind of a no-brainer to have that because of the proliferation of action cams as the capture device of choice.
Typically they are just a drag and drop, one size fits all solution that get usually “acceptable” results.
Not so for Pinnacle!
They have added an entire correction module that offers full control over exactly how you achieve that correction which can be finely adjusted to account for the hundreds of different lens types out there.
Split Screen Video
Split Screen is hardly an effect that is likely to set the world on fire but in most editors achieving it requires a whole lot of fiddling about on the timeline to get fairly ordinary results.
In Pinnacle they have added a module that works on a template basis so that you can easily create all sorts of weird and wonderful split screens based on the templates.
And of course because it is Pinnacle you can use that module to create your own split screens and save as a template.
So that’s about it for all the new stuff and a catch up on how we got here with Pinnacle Studio 21.
Click the link below to either read the rest of this review or go to the Pinnacle website to take a look at the software for yourself.