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Pinnacle Studio 18

New Tools. More Tools. Better Editorial By Ko Maruyama
Corel's Pinnacle Studio 18
Editing and more on your PC

Pinnacle has been around for a long time, and, as the version number implies, Pinnacle Studio has undergone several changes since it was first launched.  Pinnacle Studio 18 is a robust consumer editoral system for anyone who is interested in getting into video editing. Moreover, it contains other tools to help create and publish your editorial content.

With other software announcements, some features include "and more" which really means that their ad hasn't covered some of the tiny details that you'd expect with the package, but Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 18, there really is much more than simple video editing.    Building on the additions of the SmartSound Sonicfire integration of 17.5, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate , the new version has included a bunch of 3rd party editorial software to help you create the best edit in Pinnacle. 

A big install with lots of goodies

Studio 18, at its heart has native (not merely 'optimized') 64-bit performance, which is a necessary addition to any serious video software, but that is just the foundation.  Pinnacle has added tools to help editors finish their work.  Stock music, templates for transitions, effects, and training are just the beginning. 

Many consumers have upgraded their cameras, allowing them to shoot in multiple HD and 4K footage formats.  Studio Ultimate 18 will allow editors to keep the full quality of their media from ingest to export.

The "Plus" package, one level above the entry version, includes Live Screen Capture.  It also supports 3D stereo editing (and authoring/export).  The "Plus" package runs an additional $40 more that the version below it, but the ability to capture your screen, and have it fit seamlessly into your workflow is worth the additional cost.

The "Ultimate" version will run you another $30 over the "Plus" package, but it boasts more effects, templates and transitions, 4K Ultra HD and XAVC-S video support, and iZotope's Music and Speech software.

NewBlue FX has been included with Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 18.  Giving you more control over transitions, styles of composition, color correction, and vfx with over  55 plugins.  Although the  NewBlue FX  plugins for Pinnacle Studio Ultimate are already really easy for consumers to use and intuitive, the package also comes with over 700 different presets.   NewBlue FX can elevate your edit and will help you to explore more creative opportunities within your cuts.

You can find even more on NewBlueFX at their website:

If you're upgrading or purchasing Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate for its screen recording capability, you may not need iZotope's audio cleaner, unless your PC is really loud.  The new software that comes with the bundle is really easy to use.  By referencing clean areas of noise, iZotope can remove similar sound layers in your audio.  The whirring of a fan, noisy air conditioning units, or just simple microphone hum can be stripped away quickly and easily.   If you're shooting video outside, and trying to narrate your child's soccer game, you can bring down some of the wind noise that may be around your video camera's microphone.

Another new feature in Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate is BD authoring.  Although traditional media delivery may be waning, it is still an imporant tool to have.  Editors who create event-based projects (weddings, corporate, special occasion) often deliver check discs to clients before replication.  The new version supports BD as well as the previous DVD authoring.   There are several presets for quick menu placeholders, but they are all created on fairly basic DVD menu structure.  There are no templates or accessible features for advanced Blu-Ray menus.  So, while you can write to BD with your HD footage, your menu system won't take advantage of your Blu-Ray player's capabilities. After wading through about 20 previews, I'm not impressed with any of the menu systems that are offered in the template library.  These might be good for a quick fix or a relative's disc, but they lack the finish that your edit deserves. The DVD/BD templates are neither pro or con.  It doesn't change your editorial result, and probably shouldn't be the sole reason to upgrade.

The overall winning feature of Pinnacle Studio 18 is its ability to edit relatively easily and quickly.  Although this is a feature that would be expected of any editing software, the new 64-bit backbone has really made the software very responsive.  

If you're upgrading from a previous version - you shouldn't need any convincing. HD video is demanding, your editing software needs to be able to keep up.

Color based tabs and columns help to keep new users on track.  There are multiple windows to navigate in/out of and around within Pinnacle Studio, the color guide will help you quickly get to where you need to be.

Color coded tabs keep you focused

Everything under one roof:  Ingest from your camera, edit, then export to DVD, Blu-Ray, or media file for uploading.  If you often create videos that are elegant cutdowns of lots of weekend footage, this might be just for you.  You can import, edit, score, and author with a few simple clicks.

If you have never edited movies from your camera before, all versions of Studio 18 come with training videos from, including video tutorials and project files that you can start using right away.
At a starting price of under $60, the software will keep a hardcore enthusiast busy for many years.

Need help? Version 18 comes with 45 days of Training & Resources

Some of the menus are a little difficult to use. User Interface is paramount when introducing new or casual users to complex software. Editing, especially when trying to create specific values, requires quick access to values.  Changing between sliders and value editing isn't as smooth as it should be.  This won't effect the beginner, but once you get faster at editing, compositing, and designing, you're going to want something more responsive and detailed.

Some UI / UX is counter-intuitive or not economic/efficient.
Double clicking a value RESETS it rather than selecting it

Some of the additional software isn't integrated into the Pinnacle Studio experience, but sits outside as a separate, stand alone application.  Creating a seamless ecosystem of Pinnacle, ScreenCapture, iZotope and 3D Vision was a missed opportunity.

There don't seem to be any custom mask shapes available. While there may be ways to add mask shapes together, there are only limited basic geometric shapes that don't support boolean modes or transfer/blend modes.

If you're a beginning editor, it's possible build fantastic videos with simple cuts and dissolves, but if you want to go beyond the basics and expand your storytelling with VFX, color correction, audio scores, authoring and more - Pinnacle Studio 18 Family has something for you. Whether you choose to start with the basic package, or want to get really creative with Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate, check out their website and take a test drive for yourself.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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