Avid has been one of the biggest names in professional video editing for some years now. But, despite this, the company's attempts to take on the consumer-grade end of the market, such as Xpress DV, never quite grabbed mainstream attention.
Whereas Pinnacle Studio holds the beginner's hand, Avid Studio is likely to fill the newcomer with dread, although it does still include Smart automated slideshow and movie creation wizards.
Avid Studio: Features
Avid Studio offers unlimited editing tracks, exceeding even Adobe's Premiere Elements in multi-layering potential. Although it still takes a tab-based approach, dividing the editing process into logical stages, those stages are more opaque, but also more full of capabilities.
There are areas of overlap in features between Avid and Pinnacle Studios. Both let you import a plethora of media types, such as from file- and tape-based camcorders, plus stop-frame animation on a frame-by-frame basis. However, Avid Studio will import 5.1 multichannel audio as well as export it, and you can toggle audio positioning on the timeline to edit spatial arrangement.
Some formats need activation online before you can import them, though, notably H.264. This is free, but still slightly irritating. It's worth noting that there are no facilities for editing 3D movies included here.
Editing follows the usual process, with clips dragged to a multi-layered timeline. However, there's a useful graphic along the bottom which always shows the full timeline, with an orange box illustrating which portion is currently visible in the main section.
Double-clicking on a clip opens it up for editing. From the library, this provides trimming, correction and image stabilisation. But once a clip has been added to the timeline, you can apply effects using this dialog, as Avid Studio doesn't let you drag effects to clips. This approach is similar to Avid's professional editing tools.
Avid Studio: Extras
A huge range of extra content, which cost extra with most editions of Pinnacle Studio, has been bundled as standard. In particular, this includes the RTFX v2 package, and the Scorefitter loop-based soundtrack creation system.
A host of Red Giant plug-ins are bundled too, ranging from Knoll Light Factory and ToonIt to Trapcode 3D Stroke, Shine, and Particular plus the excellent Magic Bullet Looks.
At the export stage, you can output your project directly to DVD or Blu-ray, with menu authoring built in. A very extensive selection of disc menu templates has been bundled as well. You can also export to an AVCHD-based DVD, a cheap way of watching HD on your Blu-ray player without the expense of BD discs. However, the only online option is YouTube, although resolutions up to full-HD can be used, and Avid Studio will upload your file directly to the web once rendering is complete.