Pinnacle Studio 16: New Look and Feel to Classic Video Editing Software

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Major Changes in Pinnacle Studio 16

Back in July, Corel announced that it had acquired Avid Studio and the Pinnacle Studio family, along with the rest of Avid’s video editing products geared toward hobbyist users (Avid isn’t “gone” – it’s just focusing on its products for the pro-level audience now). A short couple of months later, Pinnacle 16 is on the streets and it features a fresh, improved interface as well as a host of new features.

Here’s a quick summary of the key areas in Pinnacle Studio 16 with new and enhanced capabilities:

  • Modernized user interface, expandable code base and performance enhancements
  • Stereoscopic 3D editing
  • Mobile to desktop – Easily go back and forth from editing on your primary desktop computer to your iPad.
  • Enhanced sharing and collaboration features, including up to 50GB of free cloud storage via Box.
  • Usability improvements, based on customer feedback.

Versions, Pricing & All That Jazz

I generally tend to talk about these aspects of a product toward the end of a review, but since version 16 includes some fairly significant rebranding and regrouping efforts, I think it makes sense to discuss those first.

In addition to the basic standard version, Plus and Ultimate editions of Pinnacle Studio are available. All of my screenshots in this article come from the Ultimate version, for the most part. The suggested retail prices for the line are $59.95, $99.95 and $129.95 for the standard, Plus and Ultimate editions, respectively. Upgrade pricing is available for the Plus and Ultimate versions if you’re already a registered user of Pinnacle Studio 9 or higher, Avid Studio, Liquid Edition v.6 or Avid Liquid 7. There’s also an iPad app for the product, currently free in the iTunes store.

All versions of the software require Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 or Windows 8, and a 64-bit OS is recommended – especially if you plan on taking advantage of the stereoscopic 3D capabilities. Along with all the tools available in the base edition of the product, the Plus version also includes advanced HD/3D editing features, over 1800 effects, 24-track editing, simultaneous source and timeline viewing, Blu-ray disc authoring, and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixing. The Ultimate edition brings the effects count up to over 2000, offers an unlimited number of editing tracks and includes seven premium Red Giant plug-ins as well as a good ol’ green screen sheet.

Learning the Software

Depending on the version of Pinnacle Studio you’re using, be prepared for installation and set-up to take a little while – perhaps even 30 minutes or more. The installer does have quick links to video tutorials and a guided tour of the software that you can watch while you’re waiting, but it’s probably better to get up a take a break while the program does its thing since some portions of the installation process are a bit resource-greedy.

If you’re brand new to Pinnacle Studio – or if you’re an experienced user who just wants a quick run-through of the application’s new interface – it’s worth taking a few minutes to go through the Guided Tour, which walks through the software’s basic layout and feature sets. The nice thing about this interactive tool is that you can easily skip around to sections you’re most interested in, jump ahead, or return back to a previous screen.

There’s also a nice collection of video tutorials that walk you through all the basic functions of the software as well as an integrated help system and comprehensive user guide. Whenever you jump into using a new video-editing program, there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but Pinnacle Studio provides more than enough training tools to get you going.

Features, Capabilities and Extras

It may not seem that new or exciting, but one of the things I really appreciate in Pinnacle Studio is the Library tab that lets you view and manage not only your media assets (video clips, audio files, photos, etc.) but also browse through all of the available creative effects. You can perform quick edits here by double-clicking on any media file. And, you can even create slide shows and quick movies within this area – so you don’t always have to open up the more complex Movie tab if you just want to throw together a quick project.

Instead of listing all the features and tools, I’m going to point you to a great chart: Pinnacle Studio 16 Version Comparison. In addition to providing a breakdown of capabilities, the chart also clearly designates which ones are available in each edition of the software. It’s a pretty handy reference for those who are trying to decide if they really want to plunk down the extra money to buy the Plus or Ultimate versions.

One of the features of Pinnacle Studio 16 that has a lot of people talking is the support for advanced 3D editing. Even though I’m not really a 3D-video enthusiast, I do have to admit that I’m pretty impressed with the array of tools available here – especially when you consider that the target demographics for the PS line are casual and hobbyist users. Do note that in order to use some of these 3D editing tools, there are additional hardware specifications. So, if that’s your main reason for interest in the software, you’ll probably want to verify those first. As a matter of fact, I definitely recommend downloading the free trial from the Pinnacle web site and trying that out first, whether you’re interested in 3D or not.

All three versions of Pinnacle Studio include up to 50GB of free cloud storage from Box – the first 25GB is automatic and you get an additional 25GB when you register the software. A really nifty thing about this is you don’t have to use that storage space for video projects. You can use it to share photos, docs or any other type of file – so, it’s quite a nice perk. It’s even nicer for iPad users, since it allows you to work on your editing project on your iPad, save the results to your Box account and pick up the editing work later on your PC.

Note: A standard free Box account only includes 5GB of storage. The 50GB personal plan typically runs $19.99 per month, so getting this much free storage is definitely a value-added feature.

The Ultimate version of the software also supports an unlimited number of editing tracks and includes seven Red Giant plug-ins:

  • Magic Bullet Looks
  • Magic Bullet Mojo
  • Magic Bullet Cosmo
  • Trapcode Particular
  • Trapcode Shine
  • Warp (Reflection/Shadows)
  • Knoll Light Factory

These extras alone make it well worth spending the extra $30 to choose the Ultimate over the Plus package, and should also be enough to give serious pause to those who are only considering the basic version of the software. 

Worth the Price?

I have to admit that when I started evaluating Pinnacle Studio, I was a bit blasé – but that’s because I’m a long-time user of VideoStudio Pro and I’m quite happy with that software. However, the more I experimented with PS16, I realized that it’s a pretty cool video editor. There are lots of fun tools and effects, and it would be quite easy to lose a few hours just playing around with the app. I also appreciate the extra cloud storage that’s been thrown into the deal – a free 50GB is nothing to sneeze at.

I do think that the Ultimate edition is the best value, even if you’re not a fan of Red Giant. I like being able to add new editing tracks without worrying about limitations. Even though I would rarely use more than the 24 tracks available in the Plus edition, I almost always need more than the mere 6 that you have in the basic version. But, if you really just want to use the software to create simple home movies and slideshow, 6 tracks is probably more than enough.

All in all, Pinnacle Studio 16 is worth checking out. If you’re shopping for a new video editor, download the free trial and give it a whirl. And, as always, we’d love for you to share your own thoughts on how well you like the software.