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The basic Studio interface, now in its 12th incarnation, has been pretty static for a few years. The tabbed system divides the editing process into three stages - Capture, Edit and Make Movie - and each is subdivided with a further set of tabs down the side for different media and effects libraries or different tools. However, it's still only possible to place one extra layer of video over the main one, which is why the Montage tool is a major new innovation, albeit constrained by its reliance on presets. For those who tend to stick to the readymade themes, Pinnacle has also added 27 new titles and 32 new DVD menus to the collection.
The rest of the improvements have been aimed at tidying up the interface, and adding labour-saving widgets. For example, you can now get direct page access from the album by right-clicking and selecting a page number, instead of flipping through successive pages. This could be laborious with libraries containing many entries. If you're combining footage with different aspect ratios in one project, there is now also a cropping tool - simply right-click on the clip on the timeline, and choose ‘Zoom picture to fill frame'. The clip will be magnified to fit, although you will lose some of the edges. Another potentially useful but minor new feature is the option to Find Image or Scene in Album. Right-click on a clip or digital photo on the timeline, select this menu entry, and the album will be opened with the clip or photo highlighted.
The audio capabilities have historically been good in Studio, with 5.1 mixing available for some time. Studio 12 merely adds to the usability, with a master volume control in the audio mixer, and the ability to enter numerical values in dB for precise changes in volume. There are now peak indicators on all tracks within the audio mixer, and even a little indicator on the timeline, so you can monitor levels without the audio toolbox open.
As stated earlier, ProDAD VitaScene has been included with the Studio Ultimate bundle for a few versions now. This plug-in has its own interface for applying colour, lighting and texture effects to clips, and comes with a huge library of presets, but with numerous parameters available for customisation. Red Giant Software's Magic Bullet Looks works similarly as a plug-in with its own interface, but it's a very different one to the ProDAD software. The Looks come as a library of presets which mimic a plethora of film appearances, such as different types of black-and-white, or processes which will be familiar from music videos. Each one comes with a set of parameters, too, so the customisation options will be endless.