If you've been involved with video editing for any length of time, you will know that Avid is such an important company in this field that its brand has almost become a verb. So it's strange that the attempts Avid has made in the past to take its reputation amongst professionals down to a consumer audience have been half-hearted at best. With Avid Studio, however, the company is making its most serious foray yet, perhaps inspired by Apple's repositioning of its Final Cut Pro as Final Cut X, aimed at serious enthusiasts rather than professionals.
It's worth noting that Avid bought Pinnacle Systems, makers of Pinnacle Studio, and Avid Studio is based on the same software engine. However, both Studio applications will continue to coexist (we'll be reviewing the latest Pinnacle Studio in a future week) and are quite clearly aimed at different levels of user. The Pinnacle-branded version will continue to cater for the novice, whilst the Avid iteration provides a greater power for the "prosumer" editing enthusiast. There are a couple of wizards available for automatic movie and slideshow creation included in Avid Studio, but these are more like afterthoughts, and we'd be surprised if most purchasers would ever use them.
The main app focuses on editing power, as you would expect, and the interface is very different from Pinnacle Studio, with a number of unique features. The process is divided up with tabs along the top, which is now a ubiquitous configuration for consumer video editing apps. These offer import and export at either end, with the media library, movie editing mode, and disc creation tabs in the middle. But there are enhancements and significant differences all along the way.
The Importer is a pop-out dialog which unifies bringing in footage from every conceivable camcorder type. This includes grabbing footage from DVD or Blu-ray (copyright permitting), as well as the plethora of solid-state camcorder formats now available. The dialog is slightly different for tape-based media, as analog devices will give you compression options and DV or HDV camcorders will be provided with tape transport controls. There's also stop-frame import from any attached video device, so you can grab individual files, which the importer will then stitch together into a single video clip, or a photo series, or both.