Giveaway: “Xara Photo & Graphic Designer” (1 key)

Got it from a bundle and i’m not going to use it, so here it is for the lucky one that reads this first (it’s in image form, so that the bots don’t snatch it):



A quick thought on Pinnacle Studio 21 and other NLE’s

I had a very brief relationship with Pinnacle Studio 21 Ultimate, a non-linear video editor (NLE) produced by Corel, which sadly ended in me receiving a refund. I thought others might benefit from my experience, so here goes.

I’ve used quite a few editing programs in my life, be it for photo, music or video editing. As far as NLE’s go i’ve had experience with Apple Final Cut (during my Mac days), Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas (it was still owned by Sony back then), Magix Movie Edit Pro, TMPGEnc Smart Renderer and Cyberlink PowerDirector. As you can see i’ve done my due diligence :).

Every person has different needs of course and reviews products accordingly, so here are my top ones:

  1. A fast and speedy interface, to minimize the time i have to spend editing
  2. Features, that allow me to occasionally correct or spice up my videos
  3. Fast exporting of high quality videos

I’m a family guy with a regular job, producing mostly gaming videos in his spare time on a i7 6700, gtx 1070, windows 10 64bit pc.

The last few years my NLE of choice has been Magix’s Movie Edit Pro (specifically the “Plus” edition), because it does a good job in everything. Pinnacle doesn’t offer a demo for its software and has a reputation of releasing slow and buggy products. A lot of reviewers were adamant that this was a thing of the past though and the list of features that Pinnacle Studio 21 Ultimate boasts is admittedly impressive, not to mention the fast render times everybody was touting. All those reasons and more made me take the plunge, but boy was i in for a rude awakening!

All i wanted to do was convert a portrait hd video capture (960×1080 pixels) of a virtual reality game to something watchable on youtube. I though i’d add a blurry background of the video itself (because who likes those ugly black bars left and right?), stabilize the video (because in VR the camera is your head, which naturally can’t stay still) and maybe alter the colors and exposure a bit.

Lag. Lag. Lag. LAG. That pretty much sums it up. Lag when importing videos. Lag when moving things around the timeline. Lag when previewing. Lag when adding text. Lag even when trying to simply advance to the next frame of a source video!

At first i though I must be doing something wrong. Did i forget to enable acceleration? Did i turn off all power hungry settings like thumbnails etc? Did i kill all unnecessary programs in the background, restart the software and my pc a couple times? I did all of this and much more and it made zero difference. There are excellent features hiding behind all this lag – for example there are sliders for almost everything, giving you great control over the end result – but after spending a whole minute to find the correct frame for a cut and almost crashing my pc while adding a simple title (no outlines, shadows or anything), i was done. The only positive thing that came out of this was my new-found appreciation for my previous software.

A few last notes:

  • The refunding process was quick, painless and everybody was very polite.
  • I currenty use TMPGEnc’s Smart Renderer for projects that require almost no editing and Magix’s Movie Edit Pro Plus for everything else. Audio is handled by a completely different set of products, but i’ll save that for another article maybe.
  • Quick thoughts on the rest of the software i’ve used (disclaimer: some of them i haven’t used in years, so take my words with a grain of salt): Final Cut – excellent but you need a mac and it costs a lot. Adobe Premiere – very slow frustrating workflow. Vegas – was my second favorite before discovering Movie Edit Pro, more powerful but also slower to edit with. PowerDirector – too simple for my needs.

Looking for a good cheap DeEsser?

I sure was. While i’m usually recording full playthroughs without any commentary, i just needed a simple DeEsser for the few times i wanted my voice to grace a video. So i did my research and went with Toneboosters’ Track Essentials 3. I wasn’t dissapointed 🙂

It’s only 20$ and – except for the DeEsser – it comes with a few other plugins as well, such as a compressor, equalizer and gate. Importantly, there’s a 64-bit version of it. To be honest with you i prefer using my Acoustica’s built-in tools most of the time, but those don’t include a DeEsser – hence why i needed one.


You can of course head over to the Toneboosters’ website and try it out for yourselves, but from my experience you are getting a nice, albeit simple, solution for all those nasty “ssssh”, “ttttt”, “pppp” etc sounds. As with most cheap DeEssers though bear in mind that this is designed to make things bearable, not completely remove sibilance. I for one am prone to really excessive “sss” and “sshhh” sounds when talking and this little plugin worked just fine to make me sound like an average person.

Borderlands: The Pre Sequel – Mindless shoot & loot fun :)

While waiting for the next “big” Borderlands installment, you should definitely pick up Borderlands: The Pre Sequel (on sale right now) if you’re a fan of the series and here’s why.

Borderlands: The Pre Sequel tells the story of what happened between the two previous Borderlands installments (thus both “pre” and “sequel” i guess :)), but this isn’t a game you really play for the story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s filled to the brim with hilarious moments, but after every quick laugh you’ll be focusing on two things: shooting and looting. And this does a pretty good at both of them – Shooting is simplistic but fun and there are about a gazillion different guns, shields etc in this game thanks to random generation and mutliple different stats. Mind you it all get’s a bit grindy though.

The game is set in space this time and this means you’ll spend about half your time in low gravity environments. This is a double edged sword, as it adds the immensely fun “gravity slam” mechanic (which i will really miss in the next Borderlands game if they don’t include it), but also makes the game feel a bit more sad and lonely than Borderlands 2.

Fans of the previous two games should definitely pick this up to see how jack and the other vault hunters come to be who they are and – of course – for the mindless fun that is the Borderlands shoot & loot formula 🙂. New players should also join in in said mindless fun, but i’d suggest playing through Borderlands 2 first – you’ll enjoy The Pre Sequel a bit more this way.

Btw, here’s a complete cinematic (aka minus the grinding) playthrough of the game:

You can find and buy the game at various places, like Steam (currently 70% off), the Humble Store or even get a dirt cheap key at key stores like the allkeyshop.

TMPGEnc Smart Renderer 5 – Excellent tool for Let’s Players!

So let me take a break from gaming videos to tell you about my latest software discovery: TMPGEnc Smart Renderer 5. Boy that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? These are just my first impressions of the program, but i already used it for a couple complex let’s play renderings and it’s stolen my heart 🙂 so here goes:

TMPGEnc Smart Renderer 5 is neither a video converter nor a full video editing program, but it’s something youtubers desperately need: A versatile tool that will split, join, (de)multiple, analyze, normalize, denoise*, add tiltes / transitions and do a boatload of other things to your recorded videos and audios, WITHOUT DEGRADING THE QUALITY OF YOUR RECORDED FOOTAGE / SOUND!

Yep, you heard me right! This software takes your videos and does everything in it’s power to do as little processing to them as possible. The interface makes it crystal clear what’s happening to your videos and there’s actually a small analyzer tool included, that shows you how much of your final video has been altered (usually transitions and video/audio clips that don’t match the resolution etc of the other clips). The result is ultra-fast processing (my recent 4hour long project of 15 video clips with titles, transitions etc took less than 10 minutes to encode on a i7 3,4Ghz processor and a gtx 1070 gpu) and ultra high quality. Continue reading “TMPGEnc Smart Renderer 5 – Excellent tool for Let’s Players!”

Tomb Raider (2013) Guide – Skills and Upgrades

Check out this handy guide for all survivor, brawler and hunter skills, plus all upgrades for your bow, handgun, shotgun and riftle!


Animal Instincts – Keen observation allows you to spot hard-to-find animals and food sources. When you press the Survival Instinct button, Q/L2/LB, prey and edible plants glow, making them easier to spot. This is also very helpful for early combat since wolves also glow in the dark woods. I highly recommend taking it as your first skill. After that the order doesn’t matter so much.

Survivalist (Rookie) – Earn extra rewards when looting animal corpses and food caches. This skill isn’t crucial but it does help you earn more XP from each kill and food pickup, allowing Lara to level up faster.

Advanced Salvaging (Rookie) – Thoroughly search crates and caches to find extra salvage. Again, not essential but useful for making gear and weapon upgrades a little sooner than you normally would.

Bone Collector (Rookie) – Carefully looting animal corpses will reward you with extra salvage. Also not essential but will allow you to unlock certain upgrades a little sooner. Obviously if you don’t like hunting, you won’t want to take this skill. Continue reading “Tomb Raider (2013) Guide – Skills and Upgrades”