Let’s Test The Elements
Most beginner editors want to jump right in and start cutting up some video as soon as they can. It’s not always that easy. User-friendly operation can be hard to come by when we want to make a professional-looking product. Adobe has made the crossover a reality with a very easy-to-use advanced yet uncomplicated editing program known as Premiere Elements 7.
Start ’em Up
We installed the program on a standard Compaq Evo W4000 PC. The first thing that we noticed was that our main four tabs, which sit on top to the right side of the screen, made it very easy to navigate around the program. The Organize, Edit, Disc Menus and Share tabs are very easy to wrap your hands around and allow for a quick turnaround time in opening up the program and beginning to understand how to use it. This is extremely important for novice users and beginning editors.
Organize allows you to create albums, add ratings and tag your clips. We saw this as beneficial to the user, when working on a project, as it allows for the option of rating different takes, with a rating from one to five stars.
Editing could be a little difficult, but the main concern here was: how can I finish a project without having to read through the entire manual? Elements answered the question by providing the preview window with editing options, ala big brother Adobe Premiere Pro. We found this helped us to complete our projects more quickly, because it allowed us to essentially pre-edit our edit before dropping it into the timeline. Once we finished with our pre-edit, we were able to clean up our projects with relative ease, as most of the shortcuts that exist with Premiere Elements 4.0 remain the same.
The Disc Menus option allows for smooth DVD authoring that contains quite a few nice-looking preset menu designs. Changing the actual menu requires the standard click-and-drag operation; however, we found inserting full-motion video and a nice soundtrack very simple.
The Share tab provides a vast array of exporting options, including burning a DVD, uploading online, dropping it into your PC, recording onto DV or HDV tape and exporting files to play on mobile phones and MP3 players. Adobe also made the program easier to skim through, with Themes, Titles, Effects, Transitions and Projects tabs and a host of options to choose from.
Capture and Create
Capturing our media was, once again, very simple. After clicking our Get Media tab, we found ourselves with a host of options to pull our content from, including everything from webcams to mobile phones!
For the editor on the go, InstantMovie gave us the option to further simplify our edits. Once we gave our clips ratings, a theme and tags, InstantMovie did the work for us! By using the metadata provided by your clips, InstantMovie puts together a project by adding a sequence that contains transitions and music.
To further customize the sequence, each theme offers more options to add opening and closing titles, music adjustments such as raising and lowering soundtrack and narration mixes, changing the duration of the overall clip, the order of clips selected and the addition of transitions, sound effects and theme titles. Imagine that – an editing program that edits for the user. Doesn’t really get much more user-friendly than that, does it?
On the downside, after using InstantMovie, we found it difficult to make changes to the sequence. If you need to fine-tune, this can be a headache. Also, rendering a preview of InstantMovie takes a long time, which can take some steam out of the fast-paced engine that the feature is designed for.
Editing went rather quickly and felt very smooth. You can choose from the Sceneline and the Timeline, which we liked. We could trim our clips in the Timeline, by clicking and dragging our shots. In general, most shortcuts and options are very intuitive. We had two options for adding titles, one from the dropdown menu and one using a theme and various preset graphics. This made designing a project very easy.
Videomerge, the Premiere Elements version of greenscreen, was very easy to pick up. It made creating high-quality chromakey effects simple. We just dragged a clip onto another clip in the preview monitor and applied Videomerge. It acted as if the background clip were a greenscreen and eliminated all of the pixels of the background color. As our clip played, Videomerge continued to compensate for the changes to the background and analyze the color.
Smartsound made applying a soundtrack quite fun! Not only could we pick from a vast array of themes, but we could also add the exact amount of time of our video into the options and – voila! – our soundtrack was now the perfect length we needed for our video.
Basics to Advanced
There are quite a few newbies to the editing world out there. For them, the primary concern when choosing editing software should be the feel and learning curve. It will be something that sticks with that user for his entire editing life, and it will be the benchmark when heading into new software. It must feel easy, intuitive and smooth, and it must fit just right. Adobe Premiere Elements still stands head and shoulders above other introductory editing programs. With new additions, it makes even complicated procedures seem easy. Adobe Premiere Elements is very user-friendly, and it provides a great first experience into the post-production landscape.
Processor: 1.8GHz (3GHz required for HDV or Blu-ray Disc; dual-core required for AVCHD)
Operating System: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista
RAM: Win XP – 512MB; Win Vista – 1GB; 2GB required for HDV, AVCHD or Blu-ray Disc
Hard Disk Space: 4.5GB required for installation
Monitor: Minimum 1024×768 resolution, 16-bit color, DirectX 9- or 10-compatible video
Sound: DirectX 9- or 10-compatible
Optical Drive: DVD-ROM for installation; DVD or Blu-ray Disc burner required to burn respective formats
Interfaces: FireWire and/or USB 2.0 port required to capture video
- Really fun transitions and effects
- Very easy to make DVDs and upload projects
- Hard to edit in InstantMovie mode
Great editing program for beginners who want to move further into the video production universe. From basic to advanced effects and options, Elements provides the way at a very affordable price.
Tom Skowronski is Videomaker‘s Associate Editor.
Adobe Systems Inc.
345 Park Ave.
San Jose, CA 95110
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