Premiere Elements 11

12/1/2012 10:21:17 AM

Since returning to the Mac platform with version 10, Premiere Elements has proven itself to be a worthy member of the Adobe family, offering much of the functionality of the flagship Premiere Pro, or at least the parts that regular users need. The marketplace has changed since Apple rewrote Final Cut Pro for version X and dropped its price to $318, leaving Premiere Elements with a price tag much closer to FCP than to Premiere Pro. Given Apple’s radical workflow changes as also seen in iMovie, the Premiere family now represents a more conventional take on the editing process. That’s not a criticism: many people prefer its tried-and-tested approach.

Description: Premiere Elements has proven itself to be a worthy member of the Adobe family

Premiere Elements has proven itself to be a worthy member of the Adobe family

Premiere Elements 11 is now 64-bit, which is great news for owners of any recent Mac, as it means the app can take advantage of more memory than before. It needs OS X 10.6 or higher and 2GB of RAM plus a decent internet connection to download additional content, of which more later. Adobe doesn’t specify a CPU speed, but does say multi-core Intel 64 bit, which is any recent Mac. As ever when working with digital video, the faster the cores and the more cores you have, the better. General operation is nice and snappy, but it’s when you come to render that there’s no substitute for raw speed. On the upside it feels like the software uses Adobe’s high-performance rendering engine, which is adept at fully loading all cores for maximum performance when crunching video.

There are two main modes: Quick Edit and Expert. Quick Edit mode lets you drop videos into a single track, audio into another and record narration into a third. Expert provides multiple video and audio tracks (up to a total of 99 each), and more advanced features such as key framing of audio levels and markers. It also has an expanded contextual menu, revealed by right-clicking on clips, that gives you access to lots of editing tools.

Instant Movie provides an even simpler way to make movies. This tool lets you choose a theme, at which point the associated assets will be downloaded from Adobe’s servers, then lets you add optional titles, music and other content as well as specifying ‘auto edit’ and ‘speed and intensity’. When you hit Apply, Premiere builds a movie for you from the folder of clips you’ve pointed it at. It does this by analyzing the content, and the results are okay. However, as you might imagine, completely removing the human from the decision-making process means you’re not likely to end up with anything particularly Oscar-worthy. It’s an interesting addition, although Quick Edit mode isn’t exactly hard to use and offers much more control.

You manage your media via an app called Organizer, and this is a sort of central repository for all your stuff. Drag media in or import from a camera, memory card, the Finder or from iPhoto. With iPhones and iPads able to shoot in HD as well as the plethora of other cameras on the market, it’s good to have a wide range of codecs and formats supported.

You can add metadata to clips here, and tag media using People, Places and Events, similar to the approach taken in iMovie. Media imported from an iPhone had its ge-olocation data picked up by Premiere in our tests, and the idea is that it makes it easy to quickly find clips based on common criteria.

Description: There’s extensive support for exporting and uploading to different formats, with both PAL and NTSC options

There’s extensive support for exporting and uploading to different formats, with both PAL and NTSC options

Along the bottom of Premiere’s window are options for working with clips. The first is called Tools, which lets you access features such as pan and zoom; an automatic audio mixer; Smart Trim, which identifies blurry or superfluous areas and lets you remove them; an audio mixer; freeze frame; narration; and Time Remapping. This last feature is new and lets you paint in speed changes, which can look pretty good and is easier for beginners than key framing clip speed.

MOVING ON, YOU get a range of transitions and titles, a small preset music library and some downloadable animated objects. There are also effects that can be dragged and dropped onto clips, including new FilmLooks. These range from predictably cheesy through to genuinely useful, such as grading effects. Footage shot on phones or camcorders can betray its origins due to washed-out colours, but these effects can really help make clips look more filmic. There’s also clip analysis, auto-stabilisation and extensive colour manipulation capability, as well as tools to move, shatter, twist and bend video.

When you’ve finished a project, you might look under File > Export and see it greyed out, only to realise that exporting seems to be handled by the Publish and Share menu instead. Happily, there are a variety of presets for both novices and those who have specific formatting requirements. Export presets are grouped into five main categories: Web DVD, Disc, Online, Computer and Mobile Devices, covering pretty much all bases. There’s native support for Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo, with PAL and NTSC options, and various screen size and quality choices. The same goes for the Mobile Devices section, where you can choose target devices and quality; and Computer, which can produce bigger files.

Premiere Elements 11 has more tools and tricks than you might imagine, and incorporates many of the most useful parts of Premiere Pro, while clothing them in a more simplistic interface. It’s arguably beyond iMovie in its capabilities so the question becomes whether it’s actually a competitor for Final Cut Pro X, given their respective prices. Despite having great features for novice and intermediate users, there’s too much ‘one click’ stuff here to make it feel like a pro app although, in fairness, Adobe doesn’t claim that it is.

What it does offer is great device support, good effects and editing tools, clever media management and comprehensive export options. Crucially, it uses a standard time-line, which many people prefer to Apple’s newer ‘magnetic’ system. In Expert mode, many people could happily cut projects on Premiere Elements without missing any features. Avoid the cheesier transitions and effects, and the results can look great.


Ratings: 4/5

Price: $76.25



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