Adobe Premiere Elements 12 Review

The Adobe Elements line of consumer video editing and photo editing tools is into its second decade with the release of Premiere Elements 12 and Photoshop Elements 12. This annual update features cloud integration with the Adobe Revel mobile apps to save your media in online albums to view on mobile apps. It also continues Adobe's practice of adding fun new technology automation like the one-click Auto Smart Tone that learns your editing preferences for photos and videos.

This release is not a major new overhaul or a wildly new interface. Instead, it continues Adobe's focus for Elements in two areas, organizing assets and refinement of the interface. For example, the Guided Edit tutorials available in both applications provide step-by-step instructions for common operations like adding transitions or scores to a movie, including automatically opening the associated menu or dialog, and highlighting the action to be performed with arrows and text.


So what kind of edit style do you have? Do you dive right in and start putting together a rough edit, or are you more methodical, first reviewing and preparing your assets before starting to assemble your production? If you're the organized type, then Elements matches well to your working style, as you build and grow your personal asset collection for the long term. Asset management is such an important part of Elements that both applications include a separate organizer application, so that when you launch the software you get the choice of starting up the full application, or first using the Elements Organizer.

The Organizer provides tools for browsing and tagging your assets: photos, audio, and videos. You can group files by albums, view by media type, people, places, events, and add tags based on keywords, ratings, or other criteria. The Organizer also automatically analyzes your media and applies tags for image attributes and quality, including resolution and volume. From the Organizer, you then launch the full Premiere Elements or Photoshop Elements applications to start editing; although the Organizer does have some built-in photo fix tools including crop, red eye, and image enhancements. If you don't need to edit, you can export directly from the Organizer to files or disc, print locally, or create a photo book or other keepsake. You also can share via email or directly to a variety of online sites, from Twitter to Facebook, and Flikr to YouTube.

Premiere Elements 12

The new Premiere Elements 12 video editing tool integrates with Adobe Revel to provide Mobile Albums, new Guided Edits for step-by-step operations, and intelligent Auto Smart Tone adjustments. It also includes a variety of new assets, including 50 auto-fit soundtracks, 250 sound effects, and four new Hollywood film looks.

You can start with quick storyboard-based video editing on a single track, and then move to Expert mode with a full timeline and large array of tools.

Adobe Elements 12 timeline with color adjustment menu
Adobe Elements 12 timeline with color adjustment menu
However, the timeline interface is still uncluttered, with mostly basic viewing and playback controls, and avoiding a profusion of icons for editing tools, plus multiple window panes and palettes. Instead, the palettes pop up like menus when you click on them, and then stay active so you can scroll and even use tools within them until you click them away. With this approach, the complexity of editing tools and options are relegated to the periphery of the window, with asset selection at the top left, active adjustments and effects on the right, and the Action Bar menus along the bottom, identified with text and icons.

For example, you click on Project Assets to pop up a visual grid of assets, which is scrollable, and includes viewing options, search, and file management. Or click on Transitions at the bottom to bring up a scrollable array of transitions, including name, dynamic animation, categories, and search. Then drag and drop to insert the asset or effect, and the pop-up palette closes.

Similarly, click on Tools to bring up a scrolling menu of options, including the name, icon, and one line explanation to drag and drop onto your production. Then you can click on the right to pop up a palette with the current adjustment and effect settings for the selected clip. These palettes can stay open as you continue editing, or you can close them to get them out of the way again. Elements also shows hints at various points, such as a reminder to render the timeline for smoother playback.

You can start with quick storyboard-based video editing on a single track, and then move to Expert mode with a full timeline and large array of tools.

The Premiere Elements 12 video editing tools range from Instant Movie generation from a variety of themes, to playback effects, to Time Stretch and Remapping, to dynamic Motion Tracking. For more advanced users, it also provides precise control over the application of effects through video adjustment layers that can be stacked on the timeline. The result is that it provides a broad array of powerful tools, but still within an uncluttered interface and with plenty of assistance to understand the options.

Photoshop Elements 12

Like Premiere Elements 12, the new Photoshop Elements 12 integrates with Adobe Revel to share photos with mobile devices, add additional Guided Edits such as Restore Old Photo, and provide new content with a variety of one-click photo frames, effects and textures. It also steps up performance with 64-bit support for the Mac. The new technology assists include pet eye correction (extending red eye for animals), plus content-aware editing technology from full-up Photoshop that can intelligently fill in areas from the background. This now includes content-aware move so you can move objects and fill in the empty space left behind, and the Straighten Tool, which now fills in missing edges.

Adobe Apps

Beyond the desktop, Adobe has more than 10 mobile applications available, including Adobe Reader for mobile for portable documents and Adobe AIR for portable applications. There's also Photoshop Express for on-the-go photo editing. But Adobe's cloud strategy is focused on the Adobe Revel app, to organize and share photos and video with online access across the Web, Mac, iOS, and Android OS 2.2, with Windows and expected in the future. You then can import clips or sync all your media from Adobe Revel into the Elements tools, and export and upload new files to your libraries and albums. Your media is stored and synced in the cloud, and then can be shared across platforms and viewers, privately on or publicly on social networks. The service is free for up to 50 uploads per month. Revel Premium for unlimited photos is $6 per month or $60 per year.


Adobe continues to extend and refine its Elements line, combining useful technology with a very helpful interface that stays out of your way until you need it, and then offers explanations of the available options. Adobe Premiere 12 for video editing provides a particularly useful working environment for video editing. And the Adobe Revel cloud integration offers a convenient path from desktop organization to mobile browsing through the cloud. These tools will be especially compatible for you if you are the organized memories-keeper type. The more effort you put in, the more dividends you’ll receive as you leverage the results for additional productions.

Adobe Premiere Elements 12 and Photoshop Elements 12 for Windows or Macintosh are priced at $100 each, or are available together for $150.

Adobe Systems Incorporated

$100; bundled with Photoshop Elements 12: $150

Tech Specs

Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista with Service Pack 2, Windows 7, or Windows 8 (Adobe Premiere Elements Editor runs in 32-bit mode on Windows XP and Windows Vista and in 64-bit or 32-bit mode on Windows 7 and 8; Mac OS X v10.7 through v10.9
Minimum CPU:
Windows: 2GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support; dual-core processor required for HDV or AVCHD editing, Blu-ray or AVCHD export
MacOS: 64-bit multicore Intel processor
Minimum RAM: 2GB of RAM
Minimum Hard Drive Space for Installation: 4GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 5GB to install content
Capture Formats: (DV25, DV50, Analog Capture Cards, MicroMV, DVD Camcorders, HD Ready), AVCHD, Blu-ray Disc (export only), DV-AVI (import/export on Windows, import only on Mac OS), DVD, Dolby Digital Stereo, H.264, HDV, MPEG-1 (import only), MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media (Windows only), etc.
Batch Import: Yes
Automatic Scene Detection: Yes, image-based, during capture or on clips
Number of Video Tracks: 99
Number of Audio Tracks: 99
Nesting Tracks: No
Audio/Video Level Envelopes: Yes
Audio Scrub: Yes
Keyframe Animation: Yes
Number of Video Transitions: 16
Number of Video Filters: 20, plus 16 FilmLooks
Background Rendering: No
Real-time Software Previews: Yes
Optimized for Dual Processor/HyperThreading: Yes
Encoding Formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, etc.): AVCHD, Blu-ray Disc (export only), DV-AVI (import/export on Windows, import only on Mac OS), DVD, Dolby Digital Stereo, H.264, HDV, MPEG-1 (import only), MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3, QuickTime, Windows Media (Windows only), etc.
DVD Authoring Software Included: Yes
DVDs, Web DVDs (Flash), or Blu-ray Discs: auto-play without menus or menu-based


  • Uncluttered, refined interface
  • Extensive helpful explanations and tutorials
  • Integration with Adobe Revel cloud


  • Few Guided Edits
  • Adobe-centric cloud syncing


Doug Dixon covers digital media at

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