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Pinnacle Studio Plus version 11 review



  • Recommended by TR
Pinnacle Studio Plus version 11


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

There are three applications vying for the home video editing crown: Adobe’s Premiere Elements, Corel’s Ulead VideoStudio 11 Plus and the subject of this review, Pinnacle’s Studio 11 Plus. Now owned by Avid, a major player in professional video editing on both the hardware and software sides, Pinnacle has gleaned some of the code from more expensive Avid applications in putting together this new version.

The main screen of Pinnacle Studio Plus 11 supports three main tabs, each of which controls one of the working modes of the program. The tabs are Capture, Edit and Make Movie and all benefit from new or improved features.

Capture is used for transferring DVD or video footage to a hard drive so you can edit it. The big news here is that version 11 of the program fully supports HD video. In particular, it supports Advanced Video Codec High Density (AVCHD) format files just beginning to appear in new Panasonic and Sony camcorders. This Blu-ray format is in addition to the native HDV support the program already had. You can import from tape, MiniDVD, camera-based hard drive or files already stored on your PC.

Assuming you have the necessary hardware, it’s now possible to edit HD video directly and save it as either MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 (including DivX). It’s worth noting that the MPEG-4 compression process can cut the bit rate (and file size) by as much as half for the same image quality as MPEG-2.

All this does require quite a potent PC. The recommended configuration includes a 2.4GHz Athlon or a 1.6GHz dual-core processor, with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo for AVCHD editing. You'll need 1GB of memory for Windows XP or 2GB for Windows Vista (another reason to stick with XP?) and sufficient hard drive space to store 3.6MB/s – roughly 12.5GB per hour – if you're working with HD.

The main editing screen hasn't changed a lot. On the right is a preview panel where you can watch individual clips or edited sections of your video. To the left of that, by default, is the clip display from where thumbnails of individual scenes can be dragged directly into the bottom section of the screen.

The bottom section shows your building video in one of three ways. Timeline view shows the various video, overlay, effect, narration and soundtrack channels running in parallel against a time ruler along the top. You can switch to storyboard view, which shows the clips arranged chronologically and finally, there's a file list showing the constituent clip files currently in your production.

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T David Pattison

June 25, 2008, 3:18 pm

I have been a regular user of Pinnacle Studio software since version 8. All versions have contained either, instabilities, glitches or limitations that have caused hours of work to resolve, almost driving me to distraction over the years. However, its user interface is a joy.

I have a new Dell Inspiron 531 desktop with AMD 64 Live 2800+ (5600) dual core processor, Vista 2Gb fast ram, 320Gb hard drive (all this is better than the specification recommended by Pinnacle).

Good Points

• intuitive and easy to understand user interface

• more stable than previous versions of Studio

• easy placement and trimming of audio and video on the timeline

• good (but lack of choice) moving menus, including chapters within main menus

• placeable (ie doesn’t need to be the start of a chapter) moving thumbnails within menus

• some excellent transitions

Bad points

• very difficult to handle standard definition widescreen projects of 1 hour that include transitions, menus, titles and sound (yet DVD can take 1 hour 12 mins of good quality SD content)

• can’t get more than 20 mins HD project saved to file. The DVD only writes to SD mode.

• crashes without warning when working at he limits stated

• poor quality titles

• very slow project processing while editing even with background rendering switched off

• picture stabilisation poor

• Even to get this level of operability, one has to: adjust the Vista system performance management properties for ‘best performance’ close antivirus software, the firewall, and all processes that appear with your username; run ‘End it All’ software and, obviously disconnect from the internet

• If the program crashes, a dialogue box requests you send to Pinnacle information on the problem BUT it doesn’t work because you’re disconnected from the internet!!

• useless support from Pinnacle – they don’t read the questions and offer (at best) standard and/or incorrect answers

• you must pay for extra service modules (that I’ve never purchased!)

• Pinnacle charge you for activating services that you’ve already paid for if you must reinstall the software (which I’ve had to!)

John Read

September 3, 2008, 9:21 pm

Like David Pattison, I have been long-term Pinnacle user, in my case since Pinnacle Seven.

I also experienced all the glitches he mentioned, and found it to be a totally frustrating product to own and use. However, my Pinnacle TNine finally worked faultlessly, and I was happy with it at last. Happy, because the interface really is pleasant and a joy to use.

When my XP machine went belly up I bought into Vista, which does not support Pinnacle Nine. I bought a retail Pinnacle 11, which does work with Vista, and which also purports to edit HD video, so I also bought an HD camcorder.

I foolishly imagined that Pinnacle Eleven would have all the bugs removed, as Version nine had ... but I was s-o-o-o-o-o wrong. I have not yet succeeded in making a single HD DVD, or even got beyond adding the first transition to my work-in-progress. So I am cursing myself for "the triumph of hope over experience" that made me wast my money on Pinnacle 11. I am waiting for an entirely different program to arrive from an ebay seller.

Don't buy this product unless you enjoy exploring dozens of work-arounds and can put up with hours of lost work.

But, in fairness, I must say that it IS very pretty on the screen.

Shame it doesn't work!


February 27, 2009, 9:08 pm

I have experienced exactly the same problems as David & John.

I think the most common and frustrating one for me is when the program exits without warning. So far there is no pattern, so I have to save the project every minute (at most). Having to close all other applications and processes can also be annoying but will live with it if it means everything works well within the application.

But there are other features which makes things rather useful. In particular the ability to cut scenes & music easily.

Oh well you can't have everything. Hopefully they will make things more stable and then it will be a brilliant product.


June 21, 2009, 10:06 pm

I am using Studio 11 Plus and or ultimate. It works soooo badddd. Can anyone help me. I had just finished editing a movie and was burning it to a dvd to preview it on my dvd player which I had already done before and it seemed to be okay. This is the second time I lose my work. Okay. While I was burning it, the studio window closed and it didn't eject the dvd so I figured it didn't finish burning. I said, ok, I'll just reopen it and it should be okay. Well, now, it's telling me that the associated file is missing and I cannot open the file. It has been months of work because it is a 2 hr movie that we filmed to release it on DVD. Can anyone help me??? I hope I can save the file. I have it saved on an external drive, so I know it's not due to space. HELP!!!

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