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Pinnacle 9 is nigh on Dickensian, it left me thinking that ‘it was the best of software it was the worst of software’, how can one ‘umble product leave you ripping your hair out as well as oddly satisfied, in fact it practically left me asking for more. The software is actually very good; especially for the price in fact it makes the editing process remarkably simple, transitions, multi-level sound and image editors. But the package could drive anybody to the brink of insanity. The software is quite large and uses up a huge amount of a computers resources, so shutting everything down (as they themselves recommend) is a very good idea, however if like me you’ve got a computer approaching it’s fifth birthday and the grim reaper seems to hover over it ready to strike at any moment, Pinnacle 9 spells trouble. First of all the initial package comes with bugs, they hold there hands up to this anyway and there is a patch on the website to aid stricken buyers like me. But if like me you spend hours preparing the software installing the firwire and then kablamo the deadly blue screen, you tend to become a might concerned. Admittedly those with brand new computers containing Pentium 674’s or whatever, with a 10 million-gigamegabyte drive may not have quite the same level of difficulty, but for the partially computer literate operating something that barely beats a typewriter for capacity, this was a struggle.
Then once you settle into the newly installed software, you can begin to explore the options and the features. You will discover dozens of transitions each more similar than the last, sound effects recorded by three drunken students and backgrounds which I assume have only been put there to make you laugh. But then you must remind yourself that this is a very basic package it’s not Adobe Video collection Pro, in fact at a mere 5% of the cost that particular software, the idea of complaining seems fairly unjust.
My biggest recommendation should you purchase this software is to read the manual thoroughly, a mistake I made. I tend to jump straight into things and imagine that I can probably pick up the basics as I go along, after spending a frustrating couple of hours trying to get music to work on my film it was certainly time to concede defeat. If you have used other software, maybe even higher-level software like I had done previously, Pinnacle 9 adopts the same basic principles. You have a capture option; this is where you record from your camera on to your computer. Here you can either capture live images just by pointing your camera, but don’t record onto the camera memory just press start capture; or you can capture things that you filmed onto DV film or your card, simply by choosing the video option on the camera, pressing play and then capture.
The editing process is a scaled down and simplified version of the bigger packages; the timeline function is the best for manoeuvring your clips about and creating some semblance of order. The timeline area has the obligatory options of Video 1, Sound 1, Background Sound and Music, and putting things on is as simple as clicking and dragging. Placing transitions between clips couldn’t be simpler either, simply click on the secondary clip, then click on the transitions symbol and you will presented with a number of options, including the mandatory star wipe. A transition is just a simple way of fading between clips; it can be done in a number of clever ways, and over different lengths of time (creating different effects, either quicker cuts for drama or long and drawn out for a more obvious change). In all seriousness the package comes with a good number of alternatives with a selection of different effects including spirals, fades and wipes to play with.
Putting a soundtrack on is very simple, and this is where I slipped up so maybe calling it simple isn’t so wise, but in essence it is. To add a CD song just put your CD in save a name for it if the software can’t recognise it select a track and click add to move and it will place it on the timeline. But in doing this you have to select the right input source for CD’s, my problem is that my computer is too old to digitally transfer, so I chose the digital.rip option, after numerous failed attempts and a number of colourful words. You can change the volume of the music or your other sounds on the timeline, each has a bar straight through the middle of it, to increase or reduce the volume in certain places click on the line, a blue square should appear and then you choose to how much sound you want. You can make as many alterations to the sound as you see fit, mine usually ends up covered in blue blobs, where emphasis is needed and where it is necessary to block that embarrassing thing you said on film. You can remove the entire sound track if you should so require, this is useful if you just want the image and have a secondary sound source to play in the back ground; to do this just click on the audio symbol at the end of the audio timeline and it should appear crossed out, et voila.
Finally to render your final masterpiece go to the make film option (they give them nice simple titles so anyone can understand how to do it, sadly they also number them just to really hammer home the point), here you can render your entire film and save it as a file on your computer. I recommend finding out how much space you’ve got on your computer before attempting this though, it does tell you roughly how much you’ve got and how long the film should be it is always best just to make sure. Video files are very big, I have had to buy a second hard drive just to put movie items on so if you’ve only got a few gigabytes left, it may be worth reconsidering or at least bear in mind you might need to buy a hard drive if needs be. That is the end of the process, it is as simple or as complicate as you want to make it, if you have a very low level of computer and editing knowledge, Pinnacle 9 is fairly simple so you can pick up the basics at least in no time. For those who have a little more experience there are a number of good features to make a decent edited film.
But here I have to stop and warn everybody; the standard package does have a few omissions, it’s fine for very simple editing of home videos but if you try anything more complicated there will be a problem. I wanted to overlap images and sound, splitting the clips and so forth, but try and do this on the standard package and a nice box will tell you that you can’t. This is because if you want all of the transitions and be allowed to edit multi-layer video and sound you need the upgrade. Pinnacle 9 plus is available on their website for £19.99, it is a downloadable file so you wont have to wait for it to arrive in the post. This additional cost is certainly an irritation and was not something that I was aware of before I purchased it, hence why I mention it here. This extra cost and the fundamental bugs within the initial package are a very irritating addition to what is a very good piece of economy software. Once it’s up and running it has everything that you could possibly want for amateur film editing, and with the additional firewire card and cable the £50 I paid for it at PC world is a very good effort. But if you are interested in using everything the software has the ability to offer remember that you will have to pay another £20 to upgrade to the plus edition. But overall it is a satisfactory piece of software that does all and in fact a little bit more than I would certainly expect in a package that costs so little, not bad, not bad at all.