PINNACLE STUDIO BASICS, A to Z
Intro – Hi, I’m Mickey Jako. I am not an expert but I have been using Pinnacle Studio for years.. and I’m going to show you the basics of the program – How to make a movie from start to finish, and then to export it. At the end I’ll provide some important tips that will help you avoid problems.
Working with Studio CAN be difficult, and requires patience, but, once you learn the procedures, it’s quite doable, and you can produce some really neat stuff.
2. THE LAYOUT
Opening Studio – Let’s open up the program. I am assuming you’ve already installed Studio, and you’ve already imported your video clips to your computer. I’m using Studio 19 here, but for basic functions, it is essentially the same as earlier versions of Studio.
Basic Layout – Here is your basic layout. I have material on here already just so I can show you how things work. At the upper left is the media window, to which your material gets imported, and from which you pull down it down onto your movie line down here (SHOW). At upper right is your preview window, where you can watch your movie line, by pressing Play.
Playing a Clip by Itself – You can play a clip by itself by clicking on the clip over here… Note that when you want to get back to your movie line, you need to click back here into this bar to get it active again. Sometimes you forget and think something’s wrong because nothing is happening when you click down here, but it’s just that you haven’t clicked back into this movie line bar first.
Changing Window Size – You can change the sizes of these windows to some extent by dragging this plus sign here in the middle. You can maximize the preview window if you want… Note that the video quality in the maximized window is reduced. Once you export the video, your final video quality will be better. (SHOW) Press the Escape key at the upper left of your computer to return to your work area.
Movie Line Size – You can adjust the size of your movie line by pressing Ctrl– to zoom out, or Ctrl+ to zoom in. For detailed work, like cutting out one second of footage, you would zoom all the way in. If you press Ctrl and 0, the movie line with fit the screen exactly.
Movie Line Total Time – Note where the cursor is right now. Here at the upper right it tells you where your cursor is. Just to left of that, it tells you the total time of your movie, in this case, one minute, 54 seconds, and 9 frames.
Terminology – To be clear on terminology… Movie line and timeline, same thing. Playhead or cursor, same thing. Highlighting or blocking, same thing.
Track Size – You can move up and down your tracks here at the right. You can drag your tracks bigger or smaller. If you need to add a track, right-click here to the right of the orange line, Insert New Track, Below or Above Track. Many times during this tutorial I will undo what I just did, by pressing Ctrl Z [DO], because I don’t really want to keep what I just showed you.
Normal Set-up – I normally use three tracks. I put my titles in the top track, my video in the second track, and my music or narration in the third track.
Track Priority – A title superimposes itself on a lower video track. If I moved it down to here, it would have a black background; up here it superimposes itself. If you have a video over another video, then the bottom one does not show. If I drag the brook clip over the river clip, the only the brook one shows….. However, the audio of all tracks does play simultaneously. If I drag this narration chunk under here, I’d hear the sound of the brook, music, and narration all at once.
Notice the height of the sound bars: the sound of the river is fairly quiet compared to the sound of the brook.
Track Capability – All the tracks take any kind of media – whether it’s video, audio, pictures, whatever.
Icon Info – If you hover your pointer over an icon, it tells you what the icon is for. For example this one tells you “Change thumbnail size”. SHOW
Getting to a Spot – To get to a spot, you click your cursor into that spot up here on the bar. You can drag your cursor to desired spots. As you drag, the preview window shows your movie. You can move forward or back slowly by holding down the arrow keys on your keyboard. You can move frame by frame by pressing the arrow key once at a time.
Moving What You Are Seeing – You can move the area you’re seeing by dragging this bottom bar left or right.
Moving Along the Movie Line – The double-arrow icons here take you to the start…. and the end of the movie. For getting to the start and end of segments, you can click on this icon and this icon. I prefer using Control and arrow key to get to start and end of segments.
Fast Forward – After you press Play, you can fast forward or back by using this toggle wheel.
4. ORGANIZING CLIPS
Collect Your Material – OK, let’s make a short movie. Before.. you import material to Studio, you need to organize it IN ONE PLACE. I’m sure there are all kinds of ways to do this, including using the new Project Bins, [SHOW] but… this is the way I prefer to do it, so that I am in charge of organization and not the program – I make a folder onto my desktop and name it the movie name, in this case “Nature Movie.” I open it and drag it to the right. Then I find all the files I’ll be using and make a copy of them into this folder.
For example, for my video clips I go to my computer Video folder…. I lasso them, right-click, Copy!, and paste them into my project folder…. I do the same for other files I need…. [fade to black] So now, for my project, I have 4 video clips, 2 pictures, a song, and a narration.
Note that I did not MOVE these items here by dragging them, but by making A COPY, because… I want to keep the originals in their original locations…. So that I don’t end up losing track of where things are, forgetting to return one, accidentally deleting one, whatever. Now I know…that my original files are all still back in their normal place, and my project folder has a COPY of all the files I need for my current project.
Then… I lasso the files and drag them out onto the desktop, from where I will be importing them into Studio.
Critical Factors – Same Place, Same Name – Now, something that is critically important from this point on, is that you do not change the names of the files, OR from where they were imported. If you do, Studio can no longer find them, and the movie will not work.
Watch this. I change one letter here, I’m going to add an “S”, and maybe not right away but the next time I open this project… I get this! The dreaded exclamation point!!!…. If I change the name back to the original name, it should be OK the NEXT time I open Studio.
So… that’s my preference – importing FROM THE DESKTOP. Files always from the SAME PLACE… with… the SAME NAMES.
5. IMPORTING YOUR CLIPS
Make Movie – Let’s make this movie… I’m going to click on File, New, and move carefully over here to click on… Movie. Now I’m going to import the material I’ve organized on the desktop.
Importing Material to Studio – Click on the Import tab, wait. Click on Computer, Desktop. Check down here for the types of files you want imported. If I click audio, then only the audio files show up. I always leave it on “All compatible asset files.” Check that the clips you want are checked….
For some reason I’m not getting a full window here, but down here it says “Start Import”. I click on that. It starts importing, showing progress down here, and lands the material up here into your work station, which is essentially a portion of your Studio Library, which holds all your imported clips and assets.
Library – To see what you have in your full Library, click on Organize. In fact in previous versions of Studio this Organize tab was labeled Library. Here’s all your assets. Click on an asset type on the left, and it shows your library of them on the right. I’m going to click on my latest import. Then you click back on the Edit tab, that is to say, back to your movie, and you have that portion of your library that you just clicked on, here in your work station.
6. MAKING YOUR MOVIE
A. Sending Material to Timeline
Sending Material to Timeline – Now we drag our clips to the timeline, like this. I want the tree clip… then the flower clip… then the brook clip… then the river clip. I want music underneath… and also a narration clip.
The other way to insert material, besides dragging and dropping, is to right-click the item. Say I want to insert a picture at the start of my movie. I’d move my cursor to the start, make sure the desired track is highlighted, and click Send to Timeline. [Undo]
B. Trimming and Deleting
Trimming the Tree Segment – I’m going to arrange and trim my clips the way I want them. Here, I want to make my tree clip shorter. I could just drag the edge in to the desired spot [drag halfway], but I prefer to drag the cursor first, then scroll with my arrow key to the desired spot [15 secs in] and put a split in at the spot, like this, with the razor icon – you use the razor icon a lot – and that splits the segment at that spot. I make sure only the targeted clip is highlighted in orange. And I press the Delete key.
Closing Gaps – Now… I have a gap, so I have to drag each segment over like this… or… highlight the bunch by lassoing them…note that if you get the white frame into ANY part of a segment, it highlights it. Now I can drag the whole bunch over…. Or… even easier, with Studio 19 anyway, right-click a gap and click Close Gap.
Improvement – A nice improvement in Studio 19 is that now these orange highlight lines are thicker. Before they were pretty thin and hard to see, and it was very easy to accidently delete a bunch of segments by mistake, instead of just the one.
Drop Music Segment – I know I don’t want music for my last video clip, so I’m going to put a split here and delete the last segment of the song. And I’m going to drag my narration clip over.
Flower Wobble – Here, I know my camera wobbled a bit at the start of this clip, so I’m going to cut that piece out here with the razor icon and delete it… I’ll right click on a gap and click Close gap. I now have my clips arranged the way I want them.
Note that now you have these splits in the song here, and you might think you will hear a sound glitch at those spots, but no, it’s seamless; Studio edits audio very well.
C. Moving Segments
Hand vs Arrow – Very often if you drag a clip too fast, it will jump around on you, like this…. And you have to Control Z your way back to where you were. So, I find dragging… SLOWLY and carefully is best.
Note that a hand drags the whole clip… an arrow drags an edge. And if you drag an edge past the end of a clip it shows purple and it automatically simply extends the last frame of the clip as a still shot. Watch the review window as I scroll forward with the arrow key… it changes from motion to a still shot.
Moving a Segment – An alternative way to move segments, which avoids having the segment jump around on you, is to put your cursor into the target spot, highlight the segment, Ctrl X, Ctrl V, and it lands at the cursor spot, in the same track.
7. ADDING TRANSITIONS
Three Common Types – To add transitions, go to Organize (your Library) > Transitions > click on one of them > go back to Edit, (your movie).
Let’s drag a dissolve here, to the left of the split. Notice how a transition normally drags the video line in. Let’s put a fade to black here… and a wipe here... Here’s what they look like. The dissolve… the fade to black… the wipe…. I’m going to undo them.
Added – “There are tons of different types of transitions down here. Here’s a paper curl one near the bottom. If you click on one of these, it’ll show you what it looks like.” SHOW And here’s how that looks in the movie line. SHOW.
If you do not want the video line pulled in, then drag the transition to the right of the split and it will extend a still shot of the last frame of your left segment into your next segment. SHOW.
Default Durations – You can set your default duration times like this: Setup > Control Panel > Project Settings > I like each at 4 seconds.
An Alternative Method – There’s an alternative method for inserting dissolves or fades – dragging corners in. For a dissolve, you drag this corner to the left. SHOW. For a fade you drag this corner to the right about twice the length you want, then drag this corner to the left, to make a sort of V, and that gives you a fade. SHOW.
Durations – ZOOM this part – You can make your durations exact by right-clicking the gray triangle, Transition, Edit, and entering a figure. Instead of what’s here, say I want a 6 and a half second fade. I’ll click here, put in 06, then one-five, for 15 frames, which is about half a second. And I’ll get a nice long fadeout… SHOW… which suggests the passage of time.
White Fade – Now, I had an idea. Instead of having the white flower scene fade to black, why not fade to white? I’ll put this white chunk in, which I got from my pictures folder… SHOW…right-click it and expand the duration to ten seconds, and do a long dissolve. I make sure my gaps are closed. Does it work alright? ... PLAY…. Yeah, I like that.
8. ADDING TITLES or TEXT
Title Selections – To add titles or text, click on the T. Type in your title. Here I’m going to add the info on the music I’m using. Clawhammer Medley, Steve Martin. And I’m going to fade it in and out. I click OK and it puts it wherever my cursor is and on the track I currently have highlighted. SHOW
If I want adjustments to my title, I double-click it. Make sure the text is highlighted…. Clicking in here at the upper right and doing a Control All will do it. I find working within this rectangle on the right is more consistent than trying to work within this rectangle on the left.
You can change your font. Drag this bar down for other fonts or press a letter key to get to a particular place in the alphabet. Say I want Franklin font; I’ll press F.
You can adjust size (72-48)….. position, by dragging the plus sign over here ….. color, by clicking on Face, moving down, clicking on the fill square, and then clicking on your desired color [move up and down], let’s try red, and then clicking on Apply (red)….. click OK.
If you wanted titles in other spots down the line, highlight the title, Ctrl C, Ctrl V…. here… and here… and here. That way you have additional titles with the same font and set-up. Then you just have to change the words to fit what you have at that spot. BROOK.
Text Making – For making text, it’s the same procedure, just make your font smaller. Note that besides typing in your text, you can copy it from anywhere else and paste it in.
Let’s say I want to put some text here near the end of my trees clip. I’ll minimize Studio for a moment and make copy of my already done text. I return to Studio, click the T, press Delete to get rid of what is there, and do a Control V to paste in my text. I’m going to change this to Arial font, then to 36 size, and click OK.
I don’t see it that well with the trees in the background, so I’m going to drag it over here so I can see it better. I double-click to bring up the title editor window again. I move and adjust my rectangle, like this…. I know it’s still going to be hard to read against the green trees, so I’m going to change it to bold. You can experiment with edges and shadows over here, but it takes a while to learn how to do that. I’m going to add a black edge to the text… [Move back] OK, that looks pretty good.
Scrolling Text – To do a scrolling text, like the end credits of a Hollywood movie, minimize Studio for a moment, find your set text and make a copy > come back to Studio > click on the T > paste in your text > click Motions > Emphasis > 4th one in, roll up > OK. See how it’s too fast and starts too soon… Let’s double click it to edit it, and put in about 5 line spaces at top and 5 at end, click OK. And, let’s drag the segment longer so it lasts longer. The scroll speed automatically adjusts to whatever length you drag the segment. …. PLAY….OK, that’s better.
9. VIDEO EFFECTS
Applying a Video Effect – To apply a video effect, double-click on a segment > Click Effects > you could try Camera, choose the effect – here’s one called Old Film. This is how it looks. This Pan and Zoom one is very useful > or, you can choose Color, and maybe go for black and white…. Dragging the bar here shows you the range. SHOW X2 > or you could choose Artistic, and choose Posterize, which is pretty cool. Max level gives a nice hi-contrast black and white. Click OK. [Do River, then Flower] The pink line here indicates an effect is applied.
Deleting the effect – If you don’t like it, just do a Control Z… or you can double-click the segment > go to the trash can icon up here, and that deletes the effect… not the segment, but just the effect.
Pan and Zoom – I mentioned Pan and Zoom. My original camera shot here was a zoom in from the center, but I’m thinking I want to start my clip zoomed in at the upper left instead of the center. I double-click the segment > Effect > Pan and Zoom > and you get this window. [Drag cursor] I have what’s called a key-frame point here at the start and at the finish. I’m going to move to my desired spot and click on this icon to set a key-frame point here. I go to my start.. key-frame point and I want to move that image, to a zoomed in position at the upper left. I go over here and zoom it in. I move this……… and then this……… and click OK. Now the scene will begin at the upper left corner and then proceed to the second key-frame point, which was the original camera shot zooming in from a centered position. SHOW………
Slo-Mo – Let’s try slow motion. We’ll make the brook flow in slow motion…. this section right here. First, I’m going to lock the music track so it doesn’t get affected…... Then I’m going to put a split here [at the one fifth in point]. I right-click the segment > Speed > Add > you can adjust the speed by this bar…. but what I usually prefer is to click Stretch > OK. That way I can drag the segment to a desired length and the slow motion adjusts to that length. Click OK. Wait for it to render….. I’ll delete this segment… pull this clip back to where it was, and pull this edge to that clip. This effect takes time to render; I’ll skip ahead time-wise…….. And we have the brook flowing slowly…. And I can unlock the music track now.
A. Volume Adjusting
Dial Adjusting – To adjust audio volumes, first click on the audio mixer icon here to bring up your controls. Then position your cursor at the start of the segment you want to adjust [Brook]. Then drag the green arrow around left or right to change the volume. It IS a bit tricky dragging this arrow; you don’t drag it around, but you move it left or right, to make it go around….. You can see the green volume line moving up and down in the movie line segment.
Line Adjusting – You can also make changes by putting your pointer on that green line, which changes it to white, and dragging the white line up or down. See how the dial is moving at the left when I move the white line on the right? Usually I prefer using the dials, because you can see the exact levels and make more consistent adjustments, by checking the plus and minus numbers here. [Zoom in] If you want something just a bit louder, you move the dial to maybe plus 3.
Volume Control Points – The other way to adjust volumes is to use volume control points. Say I want this section to be quiet. I’ll click a point here, and here and then pull the white line down.
[Take off controls]. You can get quick access to volume points by clicking this icon here… I actually want the music to fade out at the end of this clip, so I will do this.
Entire Track Adjusting –You can change the volume of the entire track [Click audio icon] by moving the orange arrow here. Note that the volume lines in this case do not visibly move, but you can hear that the change has been made. [DEMO]
B. Adding Music
Music Adding – Scorefitter – You can add Studio music by clicking on this Sound Stage icon here, and selecting a piece you like over here. [Peruvian] Back to Edit. Pull it down below your video… LISTEN….Note that this so-called “Scorefitter” music automatically adjusts to your segment length and puts in the section it finds most appropriate. If you want to pick a different section of the music than what it chooses to put in automatically, you’d have to export the whole 30 second piece to your desktop, [SHOW] and re-import it to your work station, in order to drag the whole song down to the movie line and edit for the section you want.[Middle section]
Adding Commercial Music – [Narrate in front of the copyright picture of Dan and me.] The use of copyrighted music is a gray area. However, this is the position I’ve come to: Using a short clip of a song, with attribution, is fine. I always carefully note the song name and the artist. I try to keep the length to usually less than a minute, just like iTunes does for their sample listens. That way. It’s basically free advertising for the artist, and I am not depriving them of any money. I want people to hear sample clips and go ahead and buy the wonderful music these artists have produced.
YouTube has software that detects copyrighted material. But in most cases it’s not a problem. They allow it usually under the condition that you allow advertising and agree to its being blocked in some countries. ……. [SHOW BARKER]
Sound Speed – You can also change the speed of audio: Say you want to shorten a narration to fit a video clip better – Right-click the segment > click Speed > Add > put to a percent, say, 110% > check the “Hold pitch” (so that the narration will go faster but will not have a higher pitch) > OK….. [LISTEN]
Audio Effects – For audio effects, double-click the audio segment > Effects > Audio Effects > choose and select. Let’s try double-echo. LISTEN. [Need to make movie line in motion.] You can make further refinements over here. [Remove].
Adding Sound Effects – You can add a variety of sound effects. Go to Organize > Sound Effect. For example I could add birds to this scene……. And if you scroll down, there’s a ton of sound effects. I mean, you could add… chickens and dinosaurs if you wanted to. [Rex low on list. Chickens below that.]
C. Adding Narration
To add narration, you can use a mic plugged in to your computer, or use the built-in one your laptop has. You click this icon here, click RECORD, wait for the countdown to zero, start talking (“By late summer, the banks of most New Hampshire rivers are overrun…yada yada yada”) Stop, Yes, X it out. It lands usually down on the bottom track, to the left of the cursor.
Myself, rather than recording directly into the computer, I usually record my narration on a separate voice recorder, import the result onto my desktop, then import it to Studio… right here… and drag it to the timeline. [Drag narration down again]
11. EXPORTING YOUR MOVIE
Review – OK, let’s assume our movie is done. We go to File> Save Movie As > name it > Save. Let’s take a look at it before we export it. “By late summer, the banks of most NH rivers are overrun by chickens, and the predators they attract.”
Export Tab – Seems OK; let’s export it. Click on the Export tab. Wait. Choose our target. If you’re saving the movie to your computer, you’d pick File.
MPEG Selection – Long story short, your best bet here is probably MPEG4, which works well with any of these presets – Full Size Standard Definition (Best Quality) or HD 720 or HD 1080.
If DVD – If making a DVD, pick “Disc” (You may need to buy an external disk burner, because most laptops these days no longer have a disk bay.)
Trend – My understanding is that the general trend is away from DVDs and towards streaming video. So for me, I no longer even make disks, but just post my videos on YouTube. That way my material is quickly and easily accessed… and it’s free.
YouTube – I want to export to YouTube, so I will pick Cloud and YouTube. Click “Start Publishing.”
Fill Information – I fill out the information: Nature Movie; NH Trip, NH rivers and brooks. I suggest selecting Personal here, so you can make a final check once it’s uploaded. There’s always some little thing you forgot or that looks different on YouTube. You can delete it from YouTube, make your adjustments. Then upload it again.
Once you’re satisfied, then change your selection from Personal to Public. SHOW both. “Click on “Start” to start uploading to YouTube. Don’t overdo the special effects. For example, my little Nature video has a change in tone to silliness at the end. Except for the fact that I wanted to show those special effects, I should not have done that.” “OK, that should do it; the video should be on YouTube.”
HD Material – Note that uploading HD material works the same way; it just takes longer, AND the person watching has to have his or her settings on HD. The person should click on the settings.. gear icon. The setting needs to be not on 144 but on the highest it can go. Click 720. [watch transformation]
Putting Project Away at End – When you’re entirely finished, you can drag your files back into your project folder, and put that folder wherever you want to store it. I always make a final full copy to the Desktop and then store it in a folder called “Final Projects”.
Already recorded the following, with blooper: Delete Auxiliary Files – Then, you want to delete your render files… like this…. Set-up > Control Panel > Storage Locations > Delete Render Files > OK. If you are completely done with your project, usually you don’t need these file and they can take up a lot of computer space, 50, 100 GBs sometimes!
12. THIRTY THREE TIPS
Conclusion – I hope this tutorial has been helpful and that you’ll tell others that it’s a good place to go, to learn the basics of Studio. Or to remind yourself how to do a procedure. If you visit my website you can find a variety of other topics that might be of interest to you. Most of it actually has to do with… religion, but I do have some other computer-related videos, like “How to Transfer Music onto Your iPod”, and “Solving 20 Common Computer Problems”. Thanks for watching.