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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6
Posted Dec 1, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 3 next »

Pinnacle Liquid Edition was born in the days when virtually all video production was performed by professionals and almost always output to tape. Today, by contrast, the mass market for editing is largely non-professional users producing for digital playback on a DVD player or hard drive, or via streaming media.

Obviously, this shift from professional to non-professional user requires an emphasis on ease of use and feature accessibility over pure functionality and workflow. What's more, this shifting emphasis has changed user expectations, up to and including those that the inexpensiveness and accessibility of DV and DVD have brought into the burgeoning commercial videography field. More subtle in the NLEs themselves is the shift from a pure editor to a tool for producing the various digital outputs that dominate today's production environment.

Examples of companies recognizing the latter reality abound. Adobe introduced the simple yet sophisticated Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Encore with Premiere Pro, and they subsequently updated Encore in the recent 1.5 release. Apple purchased Spruce to produce the highly capable DVD Studio Pro, and introduced the batch-capable Compressor encoding program with their latest release of Final Cut Pro.

How does this history lesson relate to Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6? In terms of ease of use, Pinnacle added Windows-style menus and wizards, as well as the ability to import projects from Pinnacle Studio. That said, Edition still has multiple controls for similar functions (like at least six for picture-in-picture), still asks the user to choose between CPU and graphics card-based controls, still uses arcane language in many controls, and introduced several new controls that are virtually incomprehensible. So while Pinnacle has increased Edition's ease of use, it still trails other programs in that respect.

Most disappointing was the almost complete lack of attention paid to Edition's rendering and authoring controls. Sure, Pinnacle added some great editing functionality to the program, like embedded support for the HDV format, the ability to edit DV and HDV on the same timeline, and support for multiple-camera shoots. In truth, however, while these features look great in trade show booths and press demos, they only benefit part of the program's user base, even if you project out for the entire 12- to 18-month product lifecycle. (Admittedly, many sophisticated videographers will revel in the Multicam features, and well they should.) The vast majority of users will produce DVDs or streaming files with the program, and most will be better served using third-party alternatives for authoring and encoding.

Edition remains one of the most competent and fun video editors. Despite the move towards ease of use, however, Edition's quirky interface and often obscure language are still much more appropriate for professionals and top-end event shooters than for most corporate and part-time videographers.

The Cook's Tour
Let's start with a quick overview of Edition's interface and workflow, both of which remain largely unchanged from version 5.5. In terms of interface, Edition is simply gorgeous: a smooth, clutter-free environment reminiscent of the dashboard of an expensive European sedan. Edition is highly configurable with multiple interfaces you can quickly jump between.

For example, you can import your assets and create a storyboard in one view, then send the assets in the storyboard to the timeline. Then you can toggle to the traditional editing interface with timeline, source viewer, preview, and library window to finish your editing. Most other programs shoehorn storyboarding into the editing interface, or use pop-up windows which almost always look cluttered. With Edition, even on a relatively small monitor, you always feel like you have plenty of space to work.

With the exception of the new menus and the wizards within them, operation is icon-driven, and you can decide which icons are available and where, allowing one-click access to the editing tools and effects of your choice. Once you become familiar with the icons, common operations like splitting, adding transitions, and jumping to the next edit point become fast and simple.

Edition supports multiple sequences on multiple timelines within a project, and you can group multiple assets into one "container" on the timeline to apply one effect uniformly to the group. The program saves all edit decisions in real time, so you don't have to save your projects, and won't lose work if the program crashes.

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