While possessing nowhere near the level of media mastery as their higher-priced siblings, Adobe Premiere Elements 11 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 still manage to pack a great deal of power into a user-friendly, affordable package. Both entry level and advanced users will find lots to smile about with these programs. Automated analysis and correction features allow time-challenged users and beginners to achieve very good results, without having to invest a great deal of time. Advanced users will be happy to know that both versions of Elements allow a very high degree of control over your work in order to achieve exactly the look you’re after.
Launching either application displays an opening splash panel offering two options: the Organizer or the Editor. Clicking each of the three radio buttons at the bottom of the screen displays various options and video tutorials for learning more about the particular program and its functions.
Organizer is a fully integrated media management application that enables you to organize
, view and quickly locate the files you are looking for. Organizer is highly intuitive; when you import media, Organizer automatically analyzes and categorizes them according to the quality of several parameters. You can then select various Smart Tags to quickly locate all files that fit those parameters. You can search according to high, low or medium quality. You can find files that contain audio or faces, are blurred or in focus, have high or low contrast, are too bright or too dark
, contain motion or are shaky. You can do combined searches by selecting multiple parameters as well as search by people, places or events.
Click Create and you are presented with a list of project templates for creating photo prints, books, calendars or collages, greeting cards or slide shows. Other options are Instant Movie, DVD with Menu and CD/DVD jacket or label. Clicking an option opens the appropriate application and walks you through the necessary steps. Click Share to send your creations to the world via Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, mobile device and other avenues of distribution
Photoshop Elements 11 combines a surprising amount of power with ease of use. Depending on your experience level, you can select from three different use modes: Quick, Guided or Expert. In either mode you can choose to view your image only after changes have been made, before they have been made or both before and after via a vertical or horizontal split-screen view.
In Quick mode, you are presented with a handful of basic tools and options for correcting exposure, levels, color, balance, and sharpness. Each of these displays a grid of nine thumbnails with various settings applied. Hover your mouse over a thumbnail to see how its settings will affect your image. Clicking a thumbnail applies the settings. Some options have an Auto button to do it for you and several options allow for even finer control with the easy-to-use thumbnail approach. Fine-tunes the Shadows
, Midtones and Highlights through Levels; Color manipulates Saturation, Hue and Vibrance, while Balance takes care of both Temperature and Tint. In each case, a slider allows you to fine-tune your settings further and the Smart Fix option just does it all in one fell swoop.
In Guided mode, you are given a number of built-in tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to achieve a particular edit. Required tools are included within the tutorial itself. Tutorials include correcting skin tones, cropping, fixing scratches and blemishes, depth of field, line drawing and tilt-shift effects, and many more.
Expert mode gives you a full palette of tools and lets you work with layers and numerous filters, styles and effects.
In similar fashion, Premiere Elements 11 also has a great deal to offer users of all levels. Media may be dragged directly to the timeline or imported from any variety of sources via the Add Media panel. When importing clips with quality issues the Smart Fix dialog pops up and asks if you would like it to “Fix quality problems in clips?” Clicking “Yes” applies the required fixes automatically.
Two use modes are available: Quick and Expert. For beginners
or for those who just don’t have a lot of time, InstantMovie can be a great time saver. Bring in your clips and click InstantMovie. Choose from a list of pre-developed themes, enter a title and click Apply. Your movie is created automatically, based on your chosen theme, complete with music and transitions.
Another major time saver is Smart Trim. Smart Trim analyzes your clips and shows you where the good and not-so-good parts are. Hash marks appear over the bad portions of the clip. Hover your cursor over the hash marks and a tool tip appears with an explanation as to why that portion of the clip isn’t up to snuff. It may be blurry, shaky, too dark or the contrast is too low. Whatever the issue, one click trims all that icky stuff away automatically.
Expert mode gives the advanced user access to a lot more tools, filters and effects including a three-way color corrector, numerous keying options and a variety of film looks. All that, combined with keyframe capabilities, makes Premiere Elements 11 one powerful little editing program.
Memory: 2GB of RAM
Hard Drive Space: 7GB available to install applications; additional 5GB to install content
Graphics: Graphics card with latest updated drivers
Display: 1024×768 resolution
Processor: 2GHz or faster with SSE2 support; dual-core required for HDV or AVCHD editing and Blu-ray or AVCHD export
OS: Windows XP with SP3, Windows Media Center, Windows Vista/7/8
Graphics: color monitor with 16-bit color video card
Other: Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver; DVD-ROM drive to burn DVDs; Blu-ray burner to burn Blu-ray discs; QuickTime 7; Windows Media Player for importing/exporting Windows Media formats; Internet connection for Internet-based services.
Processor: 64-bit multicore Intel processor
Operating System: Mac OS X v10.6 through v10.8
Memory: 2GB of RAM
Other: DVD-ROM drive to burn DVDs; Blu-ray burner to burn Blu-ray discs; DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV camcorder; QuickTime 7; Internet connection for Internet-based services.
• Automated ease-of-use, guided edits
and how-to’s for the beginner
• Powerful, fine control for advanced
• Fully integrated Organizer media
• Some automated processes and
analysis can require a significant
amount of time to complete.
Colin Marks is a video producer and trainer.