I just recently got Pinnacle’s Studio Moviebox Plus kit. It is quite better than I thought it would be.

To start, I am impressed with the Moviebox Plus USB device. It connected effortlessly to my computer and it works really well. On most video capturing, it’s not much of a problem. But on some videos it tends to drop several frames. No problem, I just re-try capturing that scene. (Note: I use a Canon ES75 Hi-8 video camera. I plan on upgrading to a digital video camera soon, though.) I used to use a cheap Dazzle Digital Video Creator analog capture device; it provided limited capture options and would only capture in 320X480 size. With this new Moviebox device, I get better capture options. I typically capture in the “Better” option, giving really good-quality images. The Dazzle device only worked with the cheap Moviestar software it came with, and the software was pretty limited, too. But the Moviebox USB device is not only compatible with its Studio Plus software, but with Windows Movie Maker, too. (Unfortunately it won’t work with Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0.) So far Pinnacle does make some of the best capturing hardware out there!

The software part, I was nervous about. I read a lot of reviews originally on various Pinnacle Studio versions, people said, “It crashes too much! It’s incredibly slow! It’s unstable!” Then I started going to college. (I go to a two-year community college.) It has a great TV studio. The instructor there used to work for Pinnacle Systems, and our PC editing lab uses Pinnacle Studio 8 and Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6, along with the Version 8 Moviebox DV devices. I tried the software there, and discovered it worked just fine. I figured that you need a powerful and newer computer to operate the software. I recently got a slightly newer PC (it was made around 2004-2005), and it works really well with the software. When I go back for the second semester this month, I will tell my TV studio instructor all about my new Pinnacle equipment!

The capabilities that Studio Plus has are amazing. I downloaded the 10.7-lite patch upgrade, since my package came with version 10.6. The update makes it quite stable. I have only experienced maybe one or two crashes, and its auto-save feature makes it worthwhile in such an occasion. The software sometimes takes ten to fifteen seconds to upload a project, and when it does, it works smoothly. I also love the background rendering. It reminds me of how Pinnacle’s Liquid Edition 6 does the same thing.

It has two video tracks for simple picture-in-picture and chroma-keying effects. The transitions it comes with are also pretty good. I also like the amount of special effects it has. It features even more special effects than Premiere Elements! The title editor is also nice, it is just as good as the Premiere Elements title editor.

The Smartsound tool was a hassle at first, since I needed to download an update patch for it from the Smartsound website. Once I did that, it began functioning really well. I think I’ll try and get the Quicktracks plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro (which also works for Premiere Elements, I heard), so I can use this cool music on the Premiere software, too. The sound effects it also comes with is a pretty good library. It has various categories. I like the cartoon category myself, a few of them (such as “Bong-crash,” “Sproing” and “Skidding”) come straight out of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. But I will mostly use the royalty-free sound effect CDs I got from Sound Ideas.

A small problem is the premium content thing. Some of the special effects that need purchase are inexpensive, and I usually get those kinds. I like the Bravo Studio plug-ins (which I purchased for it). The Real-Time effects package is also cool, and I also like the premium transitions and sound effects (which I am looking into getting).

The microphone that also came in the package is very cool. It is much better than the cheap microphone I used to use (I think it came with my computer, but I am not sure.) The audio quality is a big improvement in recording, I must say. I haven’t tried using the green chroma-key screen that also came in the package yet, but I can’t wait to.

All in all, if you are heavily experienced with a video camera and are ready to try advanced techniques, I highly recommend this. I will mostly use it for capturing and special-effect sequences, since I do most of my editing on Premiere Elements 3.0 (which has even more advanced editing capabilities, actually), but using these two software products and the capture hardware make great utilities for my video projects!

9 out of 10 stars.