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Pinnacle achieved

Digital video editing is exciting and important, so when one of the main tools on the PC is improved it needs examining. Pinnacle Studio's move from version 7 to version 8 brings a definite development in a product that was already good. The main change is that many video editors, and the older version of Pinnacle Studio, required users to have video editing and disc creation as two separate steps. Studio 8 makes it one process.

It allows the creation of true DVDs, with advanced features previously found only in professional DVD authoring packages. Discs created with Studio 8 can include menus with sophisticated effects, moving video backgrounds and moving video in the menu buttons.

It's good to see that Smart Capture is retained. Editing digital video takes up disk space, up to 14Gb per hour is usual. Studio has an answer to this problem. SmartCapture pulls the video in and compresses it for the editing process. Once you've assembled the final cut of your video, Studio 8 goes back to the camera and recaptures the clips you've used in your edited video, this time at full resolution. You can edit a 60-minute DV tape in as little as 360Mb of disk space.

You can add sound either from a microphone, CD or from SmartSound which composes music for you and times it exactly to the length of the clip you are fitting it to. The weakness of all the entry-level programs is that they deal with sound in a very crude way. It is harder to get the sound right than the pictures. The Pinnacle software enables you to balance and adjust sound with ease.

The final cut can be sent back to the camera and you can use the templates to produce MPEG, Windows Media or RealMedia or other formats.

Pinnacle Studio DV 8 comes with a PCI card and you will need this package if your computer does not have a firewire (IEEE1394) port, these are necessary to link your computer to the camera. Studio DV Mobile is designed for laptops that do not have firewire ports. The kit comes complete with a PCMCIA card with two inputs and a firewire cable. All that you have to do with the card is insert it into the PCMCIA slot. The software is version 8, the same as the desktop version. A word of caution: do make sure that your laptop does not already have a firewire port. If it is already equipped you can simply load on the software from the desktop version.

The main virtue of Pinnacle Studio software is the quality of the results and the ease of use. For a school it is pointless having editing software that will take a day's training to come to terms with. Anyone could learn this in an hour and it is completely intuitive. It is the leader in DV software on the PC and the one that others should be judged by.

Jack Kenny

Pinnacle Studio 8. Studio DV 8. Studio DV Mobile. Studio 8 (Software only) pound;41.99. Studio DV 8 (with PCI card and firewire cable). pound;69.99. Studio DV Mobile (with PCMCIA card and firewire cable). pound;90.99.

Fitness for purpose 4

Ease of use 5

Features 5

Design 5

Value for money 4

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