Pinnacle Systems Studio Plus 10

Pinnacle Systems Studio Plus 10

pinnacle2.jpgWhen it was released, Pinnacle Systems Studio 9 gained a reputation as a roach motel: Bugs went in and they didn’t come out. The bad word spread so fast and so furiously that the company wadded up the product, tossed it in a dumpster and started over again.

The result is Studio Plus 10. In a nutshell, the program features Studio 9’s familiar and super-friendly interface bolted to an engine based on Pinnacle’s professional Liquid Edition editor.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, things didn’t gel. Despite putting reliability and bugs at the top of the priority list, Pinnacle’s new Studio is less than optimal. OK, it was a buggy, horrible mess on not one, but two different machines. That’s really unfortunate, because Studio sports some truly compelling features that make it a far friendlier video editor than its direct competitor: Adobe’s Premiere Elements 2.0, which we reviewed in March.

Our first problem surfaced during the install on a dual-Opteron machine. The app took an inordinate amount of time to install, giving us an error message during the process, yet somehow the install completed anyway. We successfully captured 10 minutes of video from a DV cam, but after a few minutes of editing, the program crashed to the desktop. Mind you, that’s with the latest update for the program installed. Indeed, the program crashed on us enough times that we gave up and moved to a second machine.

Our second PC was an Athlon 64 FX-60 with 2GB of RAM, an nForce4 X16 chipset, and SLI. The program successfully installed the first two discs, but the third gave us an error. Nice. We finally gave up on the third bonus disc completely.

Pinnacle said the installation problem is a “known issue” that will soon be fixed with a new patch. The company also said it’s working on a patch to specifically address “issues” with AMD machines.

If you can successfully install Studio, you’ll find that it’s quite welcoming to users of all stripes. If Premiere Elements 2.0 is like an old college buddy, Studio is the little poodle that humps your leg when you come to visit—it’s in your face and friendly from the start.

Newbies will feel right at home with the storyboard mode, which lets you perform a quick edit rather than tangling with the traditional timeline, although the program does support a timeline, if you prefer. And for users who don’t want to actually edit their own videos, the SmartMovie mode will automatically turn your footage into a music video. It works in a pinch, but hardly counts as an actual project. It’s analogous to a “write my sentence for me” button in Word, or an auto-crop mode for your images. Not everything about Studio is intuitive, however. We found DVD creation to be more straightforward with Elements 2.0.

We appreciate Studio’s comparatively large assortment of transitions, but we find the program’s pay-as-you-go scheme to be quite annoying. The program dangles page upon page of transitions in your face that you can’t use unless you pay for them. Fortunately, you can disable the “premium” content ads, but it’s a drag to be reminded that you need to pay more money for a product you already purchased. The program also includes more robust audio tools than Premiere Elements 2.0.

Studio boasts the ability to edit high-definition video, but we were unable to capture any video with our pro-level cam—a Sony HVR-Z1. It was probably an issue of how we configured the camera; after all, it’s pretty unlikely someone will use an $80 program to edit video from a $5,000 camera.

Pinnacle says the latest version of Studio might be labeled 10, but it’s really a totally new product. We believe it—this definitely feels like a 1.0 app! While we think Pinnacle is laying the foundation for a potentially great new editing application, it’s pretty freaking far from that right now. That coupled with its Athlon stability issues make it impossible for us to recommend this program.

Month Reviewed: April 2006

+ STUDIO 54: New engine and friendly interface.

- STUDIO APARTMENT: Crashes and has installation issues on Athlon 64 machines.

VERDICT: 3

URL: www.pinnaclesys.com

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