Avid Studio review

Avid's new flagship consumer video editing suite
Photo of Avid Studio
£139.95 (upgrade price - £79.95)

Avid Studio is the new top-of-the-range in Avid’s consumer video editing suites. It trumps Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection 15, and includes just about everything the serious home user needs to produce professional-quality movies and slideshows.

Although it shares some features with Pinnacle Studio 15, notably an impressive collection of bonus effects and add-ons – and can import Pinnacle Studio projects – the resemblance ends there. If you’ve used Pinnacle Studio, be prepared for a re-education programme, as not only the interface but the entire editing workflow is very different. And, it must be said, it’s much better for that.

Powerful features
Avid Studio is certainly not touted as a professional-level product (‘prosumer’ is the awful word used by Avid), but for the price it offers some remarkably powerful features that make its sibling Pinnacle Studio look pretty weedy – for example, Avid Studio can use an unlimited number of tracks of any kind (Pinnacle Studio is limited to two video tracks).

Most video editing programs are daunting to start with, and Avid Studio is no exception. However, novices are particularly well catered for, with an excellent set of 20 training videos covering all the main aspects of the software. There are also several smart’ tools and other clever features to help beginners climb the learning curve.

The main interface has a standard three-window layout, and each pane can be freely resized by dragging. The five-stage tabbed workflow (Import, Library, Movie, Disc and Export) is very flexible, and video output format for a project can be changed at any time. Media management is superb, with all imported content and built-in creative effects available via the highly-customisable Library.

Library functions
All Library items can be rated and arranged into collections, and assets can be edited directly from the Library using the built-in media editing tools – so you can trim, correct and enhance photos or video clips even if they’re not on the timeline. A very handy feature is the ability to export Library items directly to other formats, bypassing the Movie and Disc stages. The Library also gives access to the SmartSlide and SmartMovie automated tools for quick-and-dirty projects.

Edits made via the Library stay with the asset wherever it’s used. When an asset is edited from the timeline, the Library clip is unaffected. Editing a clip from the timeline also makes the effects editor available, and there’s a huge selection to choose from, including the six bundled Red Giant plug-ins, which are enhanced versions of those in Pinnacle Studio Ultimate HD. For chromakey enthusiasts, the boxed version also comes with a 5ft by 6ft green screen. The impressive Scorefitter automatic background music generator is also included.

Getting to grips
Editing controls take a little getting used to, and the minuscule icons for many items make it well worth spending time learning the keyboard shortcuts. Timeline tracks are content-agnostic, and are layered from top to bottom, making it easy to create multi-layered effects. A typically simple touch is the ability to create dissolves simply by dragging the top corner of any video clip. Clips can be trimmed in the preview pane and sent directly to the current timeline position, and effects can easily be copied and pasted between clips.

By default, the timeline operates in Smart mode, changing between overwrite and insert modes depending on what it thinks you’re trying to do – this works very well in most cases, but can be easily overridden if needed.

Disc authoring and export options are suitably comprehensive, with AVCHD, MPEG-2 and H.264 support for burning DVDs or Blu-ray discs, and YouTube export means you won’t have to wait for YouTube to process your videos after uploading. It’s an outstanding product, and well worth giving the 30-day trial version a spin.

Company: Avid

Contact: 01753 655999

Positives
  • Fast real-time previews and intelligent background rendering; unlimited tracks.
Negative
  • Can't import media from UNC network paths; doesn't understand Windows 7 libraries.

Verdict

For enthusiasts who've hit the buffers in their current video editing software but can't justify the high cost and complexity of professional suites, Avid Studio could be the perfect next step. But although very powerful, it's also eminently accessible to novices, thanks to the great training videos and intelligent editing tools.