Before I get into any kind of Pinnacle Studio 26 review fully there are a few details it is probably best to get out of the way from the beginning.
This is only the sixth time I have included Pinnacle Studio on my site as a recommended software choice for video editing.
It is one of the oldest digital video editing packages that is still available today so let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat.
It is more than likely that you will or may have come across some “less than enthusiastic” reviews or commentary about this software program!
Pinnacle Studio was one of the first commercially available video editors aimed at the average home user way back at the dawn of the digital video age.
It has had a chequered history since that time for a number of reasons.
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 that here.
The ONLY reason I have a Pinnacle Studio review on this site is because Corel, since taking it over back in 2012, have done a mighty job in getting it on track, running smoothly and moving it into forward development.
I could have safely added a Pinnacle Studio review at around version 18 or 19 but left it until version 20 to make absolutely sure Corel were serious about it.
So here we are at Pinnacle Studio 26 and with this newest update we have gone through a period of stabilization followed by modernization and we are now at a point of an almost total reworking of the program.
This latest update is the overhaul that every software program has to go through at some point in time.
Software changes, hardware changes, digital files are developed and operating systems move forward… it’s just the nature of the beast!
Why Pinnacle Studio?
If you hadn’t already gathered, the basic purpose of every review on this site is to only include software I have tested myself and found to be best in class.
This is all in an effort to try to at least simplify the decision making process in choosing a video editor.
At this level of the video editing software market there are about 6 or 7 main contenders, all of them good at what they do with only minute differences separating them.
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 26 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 particularly pack any different or added features than you wouldn’t find in any of its main competition so let’s be clear on that.
What it does offer are those features designed and presented in a way that allows the user to exert a level of control almost at the standard of fully professional software.
In fact Pinnacle Studio 26 is as close as you can get to a professional video editor while still staying within a “what you see is what you get” style interface without the complication and hefty price tag.
On top of that it also comes with a fairly impressive set of audio tools which help it stand out from the pack.
You can read more on the audio shortcomings of your average video editor here.
What’s New and Improved?
On page two of this Pinnacle Studio 26 review I cover the individual features of the program but first let’s take a look at what’s new in this latest version.
Remember these are the new features or improvements that are in addition to an already vast range of features the software already offers.
Here’s a quick look at this version of Pinnacle Studio 26.
Stability and Performance
Behind the scenes parts of the software relating to how the interface functions have been reworked for greater efficiency.
On top of that rendering and preview performance has been enhanced to take into account development of industry wide software and hardware developments.
Prior to this release Pinnacle Studio didn’t actually allow the use of Blend Modes which was always a bit surprising given the widespread use of them in the industry.
The introduction of blend modes is actually a great way to really see what sets Pinnacle apart from the rest.
In most editing software at this level it is usually a case of three or four available blend modes that you switch on or off… and we are done.
In Pinnacle Studio there are 16 individual Blend Modes each with fine control over intensity and on top of that can be fully key-framed!
You can create superimposed effects, blend masked areas, create light bleeds or many other color and exposure effects.
Each Blend Mode uses a different complex formula to combine the color and brightness values in a selected clip with the values in an underlying clip.
Check out the video to see it in action.
Enhanced Video Masking
You can now convert Clip masks into Track Masks or the other way around as well as being able to nest projects and work with vector images.
However the big deal with this is that it ties in with the next big update below!
New Smart Object Tracking
This is a big deal!
Masking still images is a pain in the… well you know what!
It is fiddly, time consuming and very often good results take hours… and that’s just for one still image!
When you try it on an object in a video it is a nightmare because within a few frames it is more than likely that the object you are tracking has moved or changed shape and you have to start again.
Now in Pinnacle Studio 26 Ultimate you have Smart Object Tracking.
The software can recognize the the shape you masked originally and can track that shape intelligently within a video.
At best it nails the process with no need for you to do anything.
At worst in complex videos you may have to scrub through the video to clean up any spots where the mask lost the object or the shape changed dramatically from the original.
Either way this little “fix up” step is nothing compared to the agony of doing it all by hand.
Noise reduction using a custom noise profiles, Pitch Scaling and Multi-channel Sound Mixing have been added to the already impressive audio tools.
That’s it for most of the new stuff, you can read all about the full features by clicking the links below.