Review : StudioDV 7.0 from Pinnacle
- User interface
- Capturing video
- Editing your video
- Effect generation and insertion
- Background Music Generation
- Title generation
- Sound and video control
- Exporting video
A long standing player on the video processing market, Pinnacle has releases its latest incarnation of the StudioDV Tool. The major leap in revision number ( from 1.1 to 7.0 ) brings also a major leap in functionality. It seems they have been listening to their customers and embedded lots of capabilities found in other editing programs. However, they outrun most of the other editing tools. Of course the tool can not live up to the high end tools like Adobe Premiere but it comes pretty close. As an entry level to intermediate program it is excellent.
The new features include MP3 support for the soundtracks, HollywoodFX including a set of effects, and new export capabilities like SVCD and DVD streams. Besides that the video source possibilities have been opened up as well. The program works, besides with Firewire, with any Windows Media compatible source, both for audio and video. That means it can use your USB webcam or TV tuner card or any other device. Even non-Pinnacle products work fine.
You can either purchase the program standalone or with either a Firewire card ( StudioDV ) or an analog capture card ( StudioAV ). Since its release a number of service packs have been released that can be download for free from Pinnacle's web site. Besides fixing a couple of minor bugs and platform inconsistencies, it also bring new capabilities. The program has awaken interest from other companies such as Sony that sell the Pinnacle Firewire card bundled with Studio7 under their own brand name as well. As a matter of fact it now comes standard with certain Sony digital cameras.
Let's take a closer look at the program
The user interface has remained very faithful to the previous versions of StudioDV. So people switching over to it will have no problem at all. The uncluttered and neatly organized desktop makes sure that new users get up to speed very quickly with the program.
All the important controls for editing are present or can be called up very quickly. A preview window at the top right of the screen shows you the video you are working with or the transitions you select. The timeline shows the video strip, audio, transitions, titles and eventual dubbed text or music.
The left panel shows you the scenes in the video file. StudioDV will detect individual scenes automatically during capture. It uses the timecode stored by the camera. Whenever a jump is detect a new scene starts. They also have a motion scene detection feature.
Let's have a look at the different stages in editing video.
The program can capture from any Windows Media compatible source. That includes USB cameras and analog capture or tuner cards. We are of course interested in the DV capturing capabilities over Firewire.
When capturing you have the choice of either storing the full video stream (DV in AVI ) in segments of up to 18 minutes under a FAT32 (Win98/ME) based system, or virtually unlimited under NTFS ( Win2k ). The other choice is to store a preview format When you create the final output the program will prompt you to reinsert the tapes into the camera. It then captures just the fragments you need. This however requires that your tape has a continuous timecode on it. That means that, when filming, you are not allowed to have gaps in the tape. While capturing the pie-chart gives you an idea of used and remaining diskspace and capturing time.
The editing process is a matter of dragging the scenes you want onto the timeline. You can rearrange them in any order you want. When this first step is done you can shorten each individual scene to the length you want.
The bottom panel has three different viewing modes. By default you will use the timeline ( middle button ) the other options are a view of the individual clip names with all references ( right button )
or a clip by clip view ( left button )
The timeline allows you to insert audio ( WAV, MP3 or AVI ), dubbed speech ( via a built-in recorder ) and add transients and titles.
Besides the standard Studio effects, version 7.0 comes with a basic set of HollywoodFX effects ( HollywoodFX is another hi-end pinnacle product ) . The standard version brings a couple of those effects. However most of the effects embed a text on the display. To get rid of this text you need to purchase the effect. You can buy more effects online at Pinnacle's website.
You can either add your own music to the video ( by loading the file in the audio box ) or automatically generate music. Pinnacle has licensed the Smartsound technology. This technology can create music on the fly. All you do is select a genre, style and then any of the available solo instruments.
All you have to do is select the genre, style and the length you need, and presto there is your music.
The program has a library of CD quality samples instrument solo's. They get mixed on the fly according to music templates. There are hundreds of possible combinations, each delivering a unique piece of music. You can buy more music styles and titles from the smartsound website.
Of course you can also insert your own music from either CD, WMA, AVI or MP3 file.
Studio also has a built in title generator. You can choose between a number of templates, or just as easily create your own.
The pinnacle program cue's on black .That means the black background will be replaced by your live video. The title generator can draw text, pictures and different shapes and polygons. Simple animation like slide is possible. The titles can be added using any of the effects in the standard studio effects browser. For most users the title generation has all you need and more, but don't expect to make 'star-wars' titles. If you want special titles read the article on title generation using Swish!
The new studio also can correct video and audio . Changing hue, white balance, saturation contrast are all possible. Even some other effects are possible. The sound mixer also has been improved.
A completely new feature is the possibility to change the speed of the video
This allows you to speed up or slow down the video. A very nice feature to create slow-motion effects or comic-capers style of video.
Of course you can export the video back to your Firewire connected DV camera, but the program offers other possibilities as well.
You can export your work into a number of different formats
- AVI file: StudioDV has besides the DV codec, also Indeo and Cinepack codecs on board. A new option allows you to list all codecs on your machine. But StudioDV can not necessarily use all of these. However it gives you more possibilities.
- MPEG: Here StudioDV supports VCD, SVCD DVD and Internet streams.
- Realvideo: This video format is mainly used for web streaming applications.
- Windows Media: ( WMA ) this is another web streaming format.
- Easy to use and quick to learn with a nice uncluttered interface.
- End to end program.
- Can capture from any Windows source.
- Can correct colors and brightness of video.
- Speed manipulation.
- Music generator on board.
- Export to many different formats including VCD and SVCD.
- Hollywood FX bonus.
- No possibility to mix 2 video streams using an alpha channel. Makes it hard to use external titlers or effect generators.
Check for the latest program updates on their website.
Price : around 99 us$ without card and 129 $ with card.
Author: Vincent Himpe (also known as M.I.B.) firstname.lastname@example.org