Pinnacle Edition 5 Pro

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Pinnacle Edition 5 Pro

Ever since Pinnacle bought FAST, there has been speculation on how real-time functionality would be introduced to the FAST-based Edition DV editing program. Development has been slow and secretive, but Edition 5 Pro is claimed to be the solution we've being waiting for, and even adds DVD authoring capabilities.

Pinnacle's purchase of FAST for its video editing software was a shrewd move - and demonstrated the company's understanding that the DV market is becoming less dependant on dedicated hardware and much more software-orientated. From the moment FAST Studio was rebranded and remarketed as Edition DV, there has been speculation over the implications for Adobe - Pinnacle being the biggest buyer of OEM versions of Adobe's video editing software Premiere.
What's also been much talked about is how and when Pinnacle would combine the highly-regarded Edition software with its own real-time PCI cards to remove the need for rendering of effects, titles and transitions. A first step was taken in that direction with Edition DV500, which teamed Edition with the established DV500 editing card to provide a choice of analogue and DV inputs and outputs, though real-time functionality was restriced only to some simple transitions.
This combination was less than awe-inspiring, so many people's expectations shifted to the company's more advanced hardware - the ProONE RTDV. Integration of the ProONE and Edition seemed almost inevitable, but Pinnacle surprised us all by announcing a radically new solution - Edition Pro.
Unlike the DV500 and ProONE PCI boards, Edition Pro's hardware is centred around an AGP graphics card. The card, based on ATI's All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500DV, takes advantage of the fact that AGP has much higher bandwidth than PCI, and the card has an on-board graphics processor to deliver effects in real-time. This is the first board of its kind we've seen or heard about, but the concept of AGP-based video hardware isn't new - CV columnist John Ferrick of DVdoctor Inc has long called for such a product. But now that it's here, how well does it perform?
As with most other real-time editing cards, Edition Pro offers DV and analogue inputs and outputs via a breakout box. The first disappointment when examining the board's published features list was that it lacks real-time previews via FireWire. Instead, there's only analogue output of unrendered effects - through either composite or S-video channels. What's more, unlike the Premiere-dependent DV500 DVD and ProONE RTDV cards, Edition Pro provides no hardware assistance for MPEG-2 encoding. And, on paper, that's a disappointment - the DV500's MPEG encoding is among the best we've seen at an affordable mainstream price point.

As a DV editing system, DVC's machine performed well, being very responsive and stable. We were able to complete a full project with no crashing or hanging, and our only problems seemed to be related to confusion on our part concerning the computer's graphics setup.
Even so, we're disappointed with Pinnacle and ATI for not providing dual-display capabilities in the Edition Pro hardware, especially as the addition of a second PCI graphics card brings with it so many complications and limitations. It's also frustrating to see that the first serious attempt at bringing real-time editing to Edition lacks real-time output via FireWire. And, even though Edition Pro is cheaper than real-time DV competitors - such as Canopus DV Storm and Matrox's RT.X100 - it seems like a backwards step for Edition not to have this capability. It's also worth observing that Edition Pro weighs in at a very similar price to Pinnacle's own Premiere-based ProONE RTDV, which does have RT output via FireWire.
But, Edition Pro's real-time capabilities are impressive and far more powerful than those of the ProONE board. Edition itself is also a fine editor that seems to get better with every revision. The interface is more streamlined than in previous versions, but it's the DVD authoring tools - and very high quality MPEG encoding - that really make the program shine.
Authoring tools could be a little more intuitive, however, and we'd like to see the early arrival of some more advanced features, such as AC-3 encoding, CSS and Macrovision copy-protection options and the ability to output to DLT - which is almost mandatory for creating masters for mass-duplication. Edition does have the potential to take over from Pinnacle's dedicated DVD authoring package - the awkward and fussy Impression DVD Pro, but the right features need to be added. Overall, though, we're very happy with Edition Pro, and feel that it takes Edition another large stride in the right direction for the mainstream editing market.

Peter Wells

Read the full review in September 2003's Computer Video magazine.


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