Liquid Edition Version 6, Pinnacle’s latest addition to its Liquid
family of editing systems, is one of the most comprehensive and
integrated suites of media tools ever produced. At $499 it’s a steal.
Liquid Edition Pro, at $999, adds a breakout box that includes analog
component, composite, and S-video I/O’s, as well as SPDIF and ADAT
digital audio I/O’s and unbalanced RCA type outputs for 5.1 surround
sound. The box connects to the computer via a USB 2 connector.
The feature list is long and deep and it’s difficult to decide what to
emphasize in a relatively short review. So, let’s first look at the big
picture, which is that this system runs on the combined processing
power of your computer’s host processor (CPU) and the graphics
processor (GPU) on your system’s DirectX 9 video card. There is no need
for a dedicated video hardware subsystem. In developing this software,
a decision was made not only to use the CPU to the max, but also to get
the powerful video cards from ATI and Radeon to do a few things they
were not initially expected to do. As normally used, these cards are
built for outputting high-resolution graphics to the computer screen
(think serious gaming). With Liquid Edition Version 6, Pinnacle has
found a way, called SmartRT, to use the same video chips to perform
real-time graphics and video manipulation and return the results to the
program running on the computer. The result is that the video card’s
power is harnessed as a real-time graphics and video processing
subsystem, and yields enough performance to manipulate real-time
graphics at up to HDV resolution. Of course, this means that the more
powerful the computer and video card, the better the performance will
be, and that computers with less than DirectX 9 level graphics cards
will not get full performance from the software. Pinnacle recommends
dual Xeon processors and top-of-the-line video cards from ATI or
Radeon. On a really beefy machine, at least 30 layers of real-time SD
effects or 5 layers of HDV real-time effects are possible.
Major Module Mojo
The program itself contains several major modules in a very tight
package. Pinnacle has acquired several important companies and products
over the last several years and Liquid Edition 6 is where it all comes
together. In each case they took a good, well-developed program, made
it much better, and integrated with others to produce the present
The nonlinear editor itself began life as Fast Multimedia’s Blue, one
of the first NLE’s to take a serious approach to editing MPEG video
files. Pinnacle has perfected editing MPEG and can work with short or
long GOP’s. It has a way of fusing MPEG files (MPEG splicing) while
minimizing decompression/recompression cycles and preserving quality.
The editing software is very straightforward and intuitive. The
interface is clean and professional. There is an optional programmable
jog/shuttle control that is very functional and the keyboard is also
completely mappable. There are a wide range of ways to edit, from
drag-and-drop storyboarding to CMX-style keyboard editing. There are
unlimited tracks. All the tracks are capable of being video and audio
tracks and the user determines how they will be used. Formats can be
mixed and matched in the timeline. The SmartEdit feature allows all the
clips to be scaled to the desired output resolution or to be shown in
their native resolution. It is completely flexible. You can put PAL in
an NTSC timeline. You can nest sequences of different resolutions into
other sequences. SmartRT does all this processing in the background.
The editor is full of other features, too numerous to mention here, but
which encompass most of the same ones found in other advanced NLE’s.
For instance, there are full-featured color correction and various
video scopes. One interesting function is the ability to drag the video
parameters into spec by directly manipulating the waveform or vector on
the scope. It also has multi-cam editing capability. There is also an
instant saving capability, so it is virtually impossible to lose work
if the computer crashes. The list goes on and on.
The audio functions are inspired by Pinnacle’s Steinberg Audio. It is a
rich audio environment that includes surround mixing features. It can
be expanded by adding VST plug-ins and also has AC-3 encoding
Pinnacle’s Title Deko, the software version of the Broadcast line of
title generators provides advanced titling capabilities in a
The system contains well over 1,000 real-time effects. The 2D effects
module is based on Commotion and is startling. The 3D module, Hollywood
FX, is also quite capable.
The DVD authoring system is based on the Impression system, from
Minerva, which was acquired by Pinnacle three years ago. It comes with
40 excellent DVD templates. Its compressor can output files for DVD,
SVCD or VCD with editable presets for CBR and VBR MPEG encoding.
Another example of the tight integration is that video can be initially
digitized and edited as MPEG. So, if your project is going to end up as
a DVD, you can initially capture the video as MPEG, avoiding the time
and quality loss of additional recompression cycles. Or, another
possibility is that you can author and preview a DVD using your
uncompressed video from the editor, without having to do the MPEG
compression until you are done authoring.
At this time there are several software manufacturers offering suites
or collections of software tools-including nonlinear editing, titling,
2D and 3D motion graphics and DVD authoring-but none that I’ve seen
have achieved the level of total integration of Liquid Edition. Rather
than a collection of different programs (that require importing and
exporting between them) it’s all there in Liquid Edition, all the time.
- The more powerful the computer and video card, the better the
- performace will be. Pinnacle recommends dual Xeon processors and
- top-of-the-line video cards from ATI or Radeon.
- If your project is going to end up as a DVD, you can initially capture
- the video as MPEG, avoiding the time and quality loss of additional
- recompression cycles.