• Price: 255 . 509 . 1390

  • Company: Pinnacle

  • Pros: First with integrated HDV support. Much improved audio tools. Still has great interface.

  • Cons: Much that is new is playing catch-up with Premiere. Messy effects arrangement.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Liquid Edition is one of those pieces of software that ‘coulda been a contender’. A few years ago, when Premiere 6.5 seemed on its last legs, Pinnacle – which sold many copies of Premiere bundled with its capture cards – bought what would become Liquid Edition and its developer, FAST, to try to wrest the market from Adobe.

However, it was Final Cut Pro that benefitted most from Premiere’s failings, and when Adobe rebounded with the reasonable Premiere Pro, it left Liquid Edition firmly in third place. This is a shame, as Liquid Edition 6 is the equal
of Premiere Pro 1.5 – though it’s not as efficient as Final Cut Pro HD.

Edition’s strengths have always been its interface and technological innovation. It’s still the only editing software to offer background effects rendering – which might sound irrelevant in the modern age of real-time DV editing but is actually incredibly useful. Not all effects are real-time, and you often work with a real-time ‘preview’. With Edition, everything you worked on more than a minute ago is likely to be fully rendered, allowing you to see just how your final edit will look. New formats such as HDV are placing higher demands on processors, reducing the real-time performance we’re used to.

Support for HDV is one of Edition 6’s innovations – as it’s the first major NLE to do this. Currently only 720P is supported natively but 1080i should follow when camcorders such as Sony’s FX1 become available. Edition also supports non-HDV HD, though without real-time effects.

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Edition’s offers full mix-&-match between HDV and DV on the timeline - whichever format you’re editing in. We combined HDV footage from JVC’s HD10 with progressive and interlaced, 4:3 and 16:9 DV clips taken from other cameras with little complaint – Edition had more of a problem with the footage being from Premiere capture than it did with the formats. HDV alone caused a performance drop of up to 50 per cent, though on a modern 3GHz PC with 1GB of RAM you won’t run out of performance on a conventional colour correct/effect/transition/title timeline.
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Edition 6 is available in three versions. The basic version is software only, while the Pro release adds a USB 2.0/FireWire breakout box for analog capture/viewing. This wasn’t available for review as Digit went to press, so instead we used a Canopus ACDVio, which worked fine. Liquid Edition 6 for broadcasters uses a dongle to unlock support for MPEG-2 IMX, MXF and XML interoperability and non-tape formats such as XDCAM and P2 – which should make broadcasters take the software-only part of the Liquid range more seriously.
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The Edition interface has been around since the 1990s, and is equally loved and loathed – though editors who don’t like it often haven’t given it enough time to sink in. Version 6 marks Pinnacle’s first attempt to change it, though you can still use the original interface if you wish.
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The new interface doesn’t make Edition look like Premiere or Final Cut Pro, it merely adds Windows conventions to a broadcast-style front end. The old incarnation featured a Start menu for Project and Settings controls, while everything else sat within the interface. This was perfectly intuitive, but could be offputting to editors used to NLEs. Now a conventional Windows bar sits at the top of the screen with standard menus including File, Edit, View, and Tools.
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The new interface is lighter than before, so video doesn’t stand out quite as well. It’s like bike stabilizers: great for newcomers (especially those used to Premiere or Final Cut), but ultimately to be discarded.
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What Pinnacle hasn’t changed and is usually a larger hurdle for new users from those tools, is the Avid-style scrub and select modes. Having to learn to use the Alt key to change modes usually causes editors to give up on Edition. However, it’s a more efficient way of working and doesn’t take long to learn. 
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The rest of the new features aren’t as groundbreaking as Edition 6’s format upgrade, but even so they’re welcome <BR>
as they plug some notable holes in the product’s feature set.
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Edition’s audio tools were notoriously poor, but version 6 fixes this. Pinnacle’s purchase of Steinberg last year has been put to good use. Combining an audio mixer, surround sound and support for VST plug-ins, the toolset is the equal <BR>
of the competition – though no better.
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