Editors tend to stick to high-end (and super expensive) computers in order to get their videos done; but is all this necessary? Mobile devices are starting to become so powerful a full rig may soon become something only needed for very heavy video editing.
The iPad is definitely among the most well-known high-end tablets and we have found it can definitely get the job done in many cases. Among the most popular (and our favorite) video editing apps for the iPad is Pinnacle Studio Pro. It is argued to be a professional-level tool, so we thought we would take it for a spin to see just how great it really is. And since it does cost $12.99, you might want to know more about it before cashing in.
With that in mind, let me tell you right away this won’t exactly be a tutorial on how to use the application. Instead, I will be giving you an idea of how the application fares against its competition and its PC counterparts. Shall we jump right in?
If you have used iMovie, you will feel right at home with Pinnacle Studio Pro, as the interface is very similar. Upon opening the app you will be presented with a film-like design going down the middle of the screen. This film will provide a preview of your project. Then there will be a notes section to the left and project information to the right.
Pretty straight forward, right? There’s also a row of options on the top-right part of the screen, including the ability to change a project name, import media, add a new project, share and more. It is simple and does a good job at keeping your video projects organized, but you probably want to learn more about the actual editing process.
I found this is actually extremely simple. Though many say there is a learning curve to the “advanced” Pinnacle Studio Pro app, anyone who has used other capable video editors will probably have no problem moving around the app. Even new users will quickly get the hang of it. At the same time, the application is complex enough to achieve what many pay hundreds of dollars to do.
There are two main sections where you will spend most of your editing time: the Storyboard and the Timeline. The Storyboard is meant to give you a quick glimpse at your images and clips, while the Timeline offers deeper control over what you want to do with media. In a nutshell, it manages your visuals. Cutting clips and modifying image display time is made easy with the help of the sliders on the bottom.
Meanwhile, double-tapping on the Timeline item will give you more advanced options. Here you can do things like speed up or slow down videos, control photo zoom options, change audio settings and more. Controlling your audio is just as simple, and you get a few tracks you can work with, right under the Timeline.
Preview options are in the top-right section, while your file manager is located on the top-left area. By the way, adding content to your Timeline is as easy as dragging and dropping.
One of my main complaints is that you are not allowed to use multiple tracks for visuals, which is something very common in PC editors. Advanced computer programs allow you to work with multiple video timelines, making it easy to overlap clips. This would help for instances in which a video may have your voice, for example. Some of us would like to put a clip on top, crating a voice-over effect.
With Pinnacle Studio Pro you would have to do this manually, which would mean separating the video from its audio, adding the audio to the timeline and cutting your clips right where you want them to be.
Some may say this is but a simple drawback, but keep in mind this is a “professional” tool. And we are talking about a very basic missing feature here. But if you want simple video stitching, cool transitions and good audio control, Pinnacle Studio Pro will do great at that. Not to mention the video preview is always present to help you through every step and make sure everything is done properly.
I do love that you can do more complex things, such as add text over your media, or even do those cool pan and zoom effects you see in tech reviews across the web. This is definitely a very fully featured editor, it just has some quirks here and there.
The storage dilemma
One awesome thing about Pinnacle Studio Pro is that the app makes it extremely easy to access your existing media. The application can connect to cloud services like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and iTunes File Share, as well as access the user media stored in the ipad. Importing content from these services works seamlessly, but it does take time to download (import) large files. But of course, this largely depends on your internet speeds.
There is one issue we just can’t ignore, though: iPad storage is very limited. My iPad Pro 9.7 only has 32 GB of storage, which means I can’t really keep too many projects around at once. HD clips and high quality audio will eat up your storage very quickly, so you will need to get an iPad with plenty of storage if you plan to use it for these purposes. Even if you purchase the 256 GB version (most storage available on iPads), true video editing buffs will agree that’s not really enough. So yes… storage is one very important limitation here. It’s not exactly the app’s fault, but still something to consider.
There is one issue we just can't ignore, though: iPad storage is very limited.
But didn’t we say the app had access to the cloud? Yes, it does, but won’t really work with cloud files over the web. Media needs to be imported before you can work with it; therefore, it will all sit right in your drive.
Thankfully, the app does allow you to transfer projects and all their source media to cloud services like Google Drive and all the others mentioned above. This will give you some breathing space to work with multiple projects simultaneously, but only to a certain level, as you would need to download things again to continue working on a project. We would rather keep everything local to make the process faster and simpler, but this is mobile video editing, after all.
Video editors are spending thousands of dollars in computers that can handle their needs, so we have to wonder just how good this tablet can do. My longest and heaviest video edited on an iPad was the one of me riding down California’s Arrowhead mountains on a Motorcycle. The video is 9:50 minutes long and was exported at 1080@60fps. Check it out below.
Sure, it did take a while for the file to be exported, but that is to be expected. Meanwhile, editing was seamless with my iPad Pro 9.7. I encountered no hiccups or slowdowns. I must say I am quite satisfied when it comes to performance, as even my Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptop can encounter a stutter or two when editing video. But of course, that is using a full fledged editing program like Adobe Premiere.
Exporting and sharing
You want to show off your work, right? Pinnacle Studio Pro is great at this, as it has plenty of options to send your video creations right where you want them to be.
Of course, you can put it straight in your Photos app, which means it will just sit at your iPad. Alternatively, you can share to a slew of apps and services of interest. These include YouTube, Facebook, Box, Vimeo, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and more.
Should you buy Pinnacle Studio Pro?
Is Pinnacle Studio Pro worth $12.99? Most definitely… if you will use it to its full capacity. There are other cheaper and easier programs out there for more casual users.
With a little bit of creativity, enough time and the right content, Pinnacle Studio Pro does have the ability to make some professional-looking videos. But you won’t find the complexity and versatility PC editors offer when it comes to more elaborate videos.
I wouldn’t exactly say this is a “professional-grade” editing tool, but it definitely does seem to be a step or two above iMovie, as well as all other iPad video editors we have used. You can easily create cool home movies, and the tools to do something a bit more impressive are definitely there.
It’s important to keep things relative, and for a video editing app that costs $12.99 and is running on a mobile device, we must say this is quite impressive. You won’t see professional movie producers using this, and you will run into some limitations (mainly with storage), but I found that it might be good enough even for some YouTube content creators.
In short: it is not really for professionals, but definitely as close as they can get to real video editing software on an iPad. And the iPad Pro happens to handle it like a champ. Things like storage issues and no access to multiple video tracks can be easily ignored considering the situation. Once again, this is a tablet!
What do you guys think? Have you used Pinnacle Studio Pro? Do you think it is worth the cash? Or does another video editing app for the iPad get your vote, and if so, which one? Hit the comments below to let us know!