Pinnacle Studio 21 Review

Pinnacle Studio video editing software suite has been around for a long time and version 21 is only the second time I have included a review of it on this site.

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.

The Friday Roundup – Corel Breathes New Life into Pinnacle Studio

Suffice to say the only reason I finally added it to the list of software I recommend 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!

Morph Transitions

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 Effects

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.

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.

Click Here to See Pinnacle Studio 21

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

4.5 / 5 stars     
Pinnacle Studio 21 Review was last modified: August 23rd, 2017 by Lance Carr

97 comments to Pinnacle Studio 21 Review

  • Russell

    The editor of choice for me in the past 5 or 6 years is Cyberlink PowerDirector (version 16 should be released in the next 3 or 4 weeks if I had to guess, based on previous release dates). Anyway, before finally settling on PowerDirector, I went through several versions of Pinnacle Studio, each time hoping that the crash-o-rama nature of the program had improved. After being fed up with it, I tried several of the others you mention here, such as Magix Movie Edit Pro, Video Studio and Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum. I have to say that PowerDirector, although missing a few bells and whistles (effects and transitions found in some of the other “premium” versions of those editors), I GLADLY give that up for the awesome STABILITY that PD provides. In all the years I’ve had PowerDirector, I can count on one hand the number of crashes I’ve had. And that means a lot.

    Have you used Pinnacle Studio enough to determine if it is REALLY stable, when used to its extreme?


    • Lance Carr

      Hi Russell,
      Thanks for dropping by and giving your thoughts.
      First up you are absolutely right about the old Pinnacle crash-o-rama!
      To be fair the original company, Pinnacle Systems, just never had the resources to keep up with developments in both computers and the Windows operating system.
      It was a constant game of “catch up” for them in which they never caught up!
      When Avid bought it they put a lot of effort into it and to some degree “tamed” it… a bit.
      I personally think they had no clue as to what they were getting themselves into.
      Avid was used to high end pro’s running high end machines dedicated to editing alone.
      Not consumer machines running god knows what else on them as well as consumers who were probably to them… rather annoying!
      On the other hand when Pinnacle Studio found its final home at Corel things began to turn around.
      I didn’t add it on to this site until they got to version 19.
      By then Corel had squashed most of the bugs and had kicked the whole program into the modern world of consumer video editing.
      By version 20 Pinnacle was attracting about the same levels of compliant for crashes etc. that Corel VideoStudio and PowerDirector were getting which was minimal.
      I know your experience with PD has been great but bear in mind that I don’t care which software you mention, I can find someone with a bug/crash/problem.

      So as it stands now, the new version of Pinnacle Studio on this site attracts a level of complaint to that is about equal to any other software I recommend.
      In addition to that the various forums I either moderate or track are reflecting the same numbers.
      There are very few problems coming up that can be directly attributed to the software itself. In most cases it is user error or insufficient resources to handle HD material.
      There is only one point I still disagree with when it comes to Pinnacle Studio and that is they don’t offer a free trial, I have bugged them on this but so far I have been unsuccessful.
      That means to try it you have to buy it and then refund if you don’t like it… not ideal
      Other than that with the new interface version 21 is very good.

  • Sue

    Thanks for the review. So you happen to know if there is a hidden “looping” feature anywhere? I have utilized the “menu” option in the past but currently have a 22 min video I would like to loop. This is high on my wish list as I do videos for family functions and would love for it to just keep playing. I have looked for the option within Pinnacle and now checking for other programs that might work for me.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Sue,
      Not certain really that there is a dedicated function for this but a google search “looping video in pinnacle” brings up a few workarounds to the situation.

      • Sue

        I will google it again. Most do not allow for longer video presentations. Many of mine go 20 or more minutes. Thanks though….. thought I might have missed something within the program. My last ditch work around is to send it to my daughter and she loops in in her apple program.

  • Andy

    Hi Lance, I am a Magix (Sony) Movie Studio 13 Ultimate user looking to be converted to Pinnacle 20.5 ultimate. I have never used Pinnacle’s software, but that doesn’t faze me. The main question that I cannot seem to find an answer to online is how does the programme handle rendering, both whilst using the programme real time and in the rendering at 1080p full hd best quality? My system is 32gig DDR Ram, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3gig card. i7 6700 Skylake. I work with many transitions which are demanding, and rendering on Movie Studio do not use the cuda on the GPU, so it is shockingly slow. So this is my main point for moving away from Movie Studio, and the Sony products on a whole. Does Pinnacle render using GPU Cuda? Many thanks, Andy

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Andy,
      That’s actually a pretty good question. Usually the differences in rendering time and the ability to scrub through the timeleine etc is not really that big a deal.

      However in your case, using lots of transition etc it does come to the fore.

      I am surprised you system is lagging using Movie Studio because you are certainly not short of resources there!

      Pinnacle does tout itself as being well able to execute using the video card processing power (cuda) and all that but the real answer is who knows!

      Independent and reliable benchmarks tests are impossible to find so… all I can say is this.

      In my experience, on my computer, completing projects that I tend to do I have found that Pinnacle is slightly faster than Movie Studio.

      The annoying thing I find here is that Pinnacle does not allow a free trial so you can do a test on your own. The only way you can do that is to buy it, test it then of it is not faster then you have to go through the whole refund thingy.

      If you have the need for speed then the champ at the moment and has been for a while in CyberLink PowerDirector.

      • Andy

        Thank you for your response Lance. I will check out CyberLink PowerDirector, but have also emailed Corel for their tech team to advise also.

        Many thanks,


  • KennyT

    Hello Lance,
    I have used Pinnacle (9) and other “old” versions. I now have windows 10 and recently purchased Pinnacle 20. I find that “audio ducking” is not included, but is on “Plus”. Obviously I don`t want to have to buy another version as I am a pensioner. Do you know if there is patch or download for “audio ducking” somewhere?
    Many thanks

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Kenny,
      Well the bad news is that the ducking feature only comes with the Plus version and the only way to get it is by upgrading.

      Here’s the good news!

      The feature itself is not a big deal, a bit of a time saver maybe but really… not so much.

      All it does is analyse the backing track and the presence of any vocal track and adjusts the sound of the backing track down so you can hear the vocals.

      Just as easily you can manually pull the backing track down and raise it at the end of the narrative track so I don’t really think you are missing out on all that much!

  • john palmer

    hi we have studio 20 , if we open a file and run it thru the timeline on nvidia graphics – 950m, the timeline audio and video sync is terrible,. i fi open the same file on intel integrated graphics, then theres no issue, this is on my lapto, on ly destop pc running a 1070 gtx theres no issue, both i7s. can uhelp ?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi John,
      First of all I would search online for any known issues involving that graphics card and Pinnacle.

      Out of sync problems nearly always come from some kind of processing log jam occurring somewhere along the line.

      Given that both systems have i7’s that kind of eliminates that.

      Is there a significant difference in the available RAM on the faulting device?

      I am happy to help so if you want, you can just hit the Contact button on the site and kick me out an email direct and I’ll try to help you isolate the problem.

  • Sergio Ferreira

    I received a response from Corel about this subject, and they asked me to give a reset through the menu of the program, or do it manually by doing the following:
    Press the “Windows” key + “R
    -type% localappdata% in the box and press Enter
    -Rename the file to Pinnacle.old and Pinnacle Pinnacle_Studio _ for _ Pinnacle_Studio .old
    -Open the program
    With me it worked fine and now I am using version 20.5 without problems. If someone shows up with this problem out there, this is a great option.
    Thank you very much for your attention !!

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Sergio,

      First up glad to hear you got it sorted.

      Secondly, shocked the problem was actually solved by customer service! (Isn’t that one of the signs of the coming apocalypse?)

      Third, thanks for getting back to me and posting the solution.

      Hopefully if someone else has the problem they can find it here.

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