Maximum PC Staff Jun 24, 2008

Pinnacle Studio MovieBox Plus

At A Glance

The Sting

Must spend an extra $50 to
output HDV content.

Spy Game

Must spend an extra $50 to
output HDV content.

We weren’t kind when we reviewed Pinnacle’s Studio 10 in our April 2006 issue. It was buggy and unstable, and we couldn’t fully install it on our Athlon 64­–based machine.

So what do you get if you take Studio 10 and bundle it with a box of hardware? Shockingly, not a bad package.
That’s because Pinnacle has been busily stomping bugs out of Studio 10 to get the program up to snuff. Part of the problem with the original Studio 10 was that it was a total shift from the even buggier legacy code in Studio 9 to code borrowed from the company’s pro product, Liquid. While the original version of Studio 10 wouldn’t install properly, took hours just to launch, and crashed randomly, we’re happy to report that the 10.6 version included in the box installed without any major issues.

We say this because we did get a scary dialog box from XP that said original OS files had been replaced during the install of Studio 10, but XP booted and worked fine. We, of course, were then prompted to update to version 10.7.
Studio 10 is easy to use. With background rendering, RAM previews, and multithreading included in the product, we’re starting to change our opinion of this software.

Pinnacle also touts the ability to work with HDV content with 10.7, and indeed, we had no issues importing HDV content from a Canon HV10 camcorder. And unlike Adobe’s half-assed Premiere Elements 3.0 attempt at HDV editing, Studio 10 gave us a preview window of the capture, and scene detection worked properly. Although it can’t yet burn to Blu-ray discs, the program can generate HD-resolution content on a single- or dual-layer DVD. Since all HD DVD decks and Xbox 360s will play these, it’s a cheap way to get HDV movies without paying for an HD DVD burner and discs. The catch, of course, is that you have to pay an additional $50 to enable the program to burn that content.

Studio MovieBox Plus is about more than just the Studio 10 software though; it’s also about the hardware package. The company bundles in a microphone for recording voice-overs. It’s not the greatest mic in the world, but it’s certainly better than the plastic boom mic most of us got with our Sound Blaster Live! cards. One bitch we have about it: It uses a rather large jack that makes it very difficult to have the speakers and the mic plugged in simultaneously on a Sound Blaster X-Fi.

Pinnacle also includes a hardware capture device that has inputs and outputs for composite video, stereo RCA, DV, and S-video as well as a six-pin FireWire 400 port. The box itself plugs straight into a USB port. We’d heard complaints about the capture capabilities of the box, but we didn’t have any problems using it to acquire analog footage from an old Hi8 camera.

We suspect any complaints of jerkiness come from people with underpowered rigs. We did, however, have issues trying to capture HDV footage through the onboard FireWire port. We ended up using the FireWire port on our Asus board instead.

One other goodie Pinnacle bundles in is a backdrop to be used for Chroma Key, aka green screen, effects. Pin the sheet to a wall and shoot footage of your friend holding the mic and you can easily drop in a still image of the White House to make it look like your friend is filing a news report from D.C.

Studio MovieBox Plus isn’t perfect, but with most of the major bugs dead and its handy collection of hardware trinkets, we think the beginning moviemaker will find it worth a look.


Pinnacle Studio MovieBox Plus

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