The Pinnacle name has a long history in the video market, attached to products aimed at everyone from consumer to broadcast. Once owned by Avid, it’s now part of Corel, which relaunched Avid Studio for iPad in 2012 as Pinnacle Studio. Now it’s come to the iPhone too, for those who want to be able to make movies in their pocket, so to speak. The app runs on the iPhone 4 or higher, though ideally you’ll want a dual-core model for better performance, meaning at least a 4s, which is what we used for testing. It’s good to see an ambitious app supporting older hardware. The obvious question is why you’d pay $7.99 for a video editing app when iMovie is free with a new iPhone. The answer is that it has more features and is designed to give you more control.
Begin a new project and you can set a frame rate and either start from scratch or import a project from iTunes, Box (a cloud service similar to Dropbox), Skoletube or Bornetube (no, me neither). You can access your local Camera Roll or shoot video and stills within the app. Your iPhone’s music library is available too for soundtracking (copyright permitting), and there’s a built-in voice recorder to capture from the built-in mic or a connected unit to an audio track. Pinnacle works in both portrait and landscape modes, and you’ll find yourself switching between these, because certain tasks suit different orientations. Tap any clip to open it and set in and out points, then insert it into the timeline; or drop it straight in, then edit its edges, move or split it with the Cut tool, or replace it with another clip. You can control a clip’s length with a key shortcut. There are two timeline views: a Storyboard and a regular linear video/audio track view. Storyboard (which can be hidden if you prefer) gives you a block-by-block view of the project’s content regardless of its duration, so it’s easier to see an overview, though not its length.
The regular timeline view can be zoomed in or out by pinching at the base of the screen, and navigating is pretty easy thanks to snapping. Using an app this capable on a phone screen does require a degree of care with your fingers, of course, and though it’s been well thought out it’s still possible to drag something to the wrong place or perpetrate something else unintended if you’re not paying close enough attention. There are 16 transitions to choose from fades, pushes and slides and these can be dropped between clips and resized like other content using handles. You can tap on most clip types in the timeline to open a sort of properties window that lets you change parameters such as orientation, fit, speed, volume and audio fades. In the case of the animated themes available, the control section lets you choose background and secondary images or videos plus their orientation and the speed of the animation.
You can also apply a picture-in-picture effect. Last but not least is titling, nicely implemented with a selection of ready-made static and motion templates. When your project is finished, it can be rendered (at up to 1080p with high frame rate support)to a movie file saved to the Camera Roll, sent to YouTube, Facebook or Box, or transferred as a raw project plus media via iTunes or Box for further work on another iOS device or in Pinnacle Studio for Windows. The big catch here is that Corel doesn’t have a Mac version, so if you want a workflow where you rough-cut on the iPhone and then switch to desktop, you’ll have to look at something like the less capable new Adobe Premiere Clip, which can transfer projects seamlessly to the Mac app. You can at least shift work to iPad if it helps. It’s hard to see anyone choosing a phone as their primary edit suite, but the app is handy and much more capable than you might think. It may not look as glossy as iMovie, but Pinnacle is more flexible, and capable of some commendable results.
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Pinnacle iPhone App
- - Native 64-bit operation.
- - 50GB of free Box.net space
- - Solid audio tools.
- - Attractive interface
- - Some interface irritations.
- - Slower rendering performance
- - Choppy 4K performance.
- - No multicam or motion tracking.