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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6


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 full-featured tool.
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.
Full-Featured Editing
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 capability.
Pinnacle’s Title Deko, the software version of the Broadcast line of title generators provides advanced titling capabilities in a well-developed package.
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.
Smart Advice
  • 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.

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