Adobe’s professional-grade video editing app, Premiere Pro, recently went exclusively 64-bit with its CS5 version. This update incorporated the most powerful multi-format real-time video editing engine currently on the market. But the time is not quite ripe for an exclusively 64-bit app at the consumer end of the video editing market. So the latest ninth incarnation of Adobe’s Premiere Elements has nothing quite so revolutionary to boast about. However, like Photoshop Elements 9, there are some sundry improvements, which Adobe hopes will be enough to tempt you.
(centre)”’The Get Media applet now supports importing footage from Flip cameras and DSLRs”’(/centre)
To start with, you can now import footage from a Flip camcorder or a DSLR as easily as you could with AVCHD devices beforehand. The Get Media import applet already available for other file-based camcorder formats now includes these types of camera. You can open a Flip or DSLR’s storage and browse the contents, including the ability to play clips in thumbnail form to help you find the one you’re looking for. Then simply select the clips you want, choose a destination folder, and click Get Media to bring the clips in.
These will automatically be included in your Premiere Elements project, but also added to the Organizer catalogue, so you can tag them and analyse them using its management features. The Organizer is now available in the Mac version as well as the PC version, where it has been included since version 8. Premiere Elements is also tolerant if you import footage into a project with the wrong settings for the footage, automatically prompting you to switch if it detects any major differences.
(centre)”’The InstantMovie automated editing system includes a few more themes than the previous version”’(/centre)
InstantMovie’s smart automatic editing has been enhanced, with the inclusion of extra themes. These range from Fun in the Sun to Crazy Cartoons and Pets. The themes bundle music, transitions, titles and effects, and apply these automatically to your chosen set of clips to create a finished movie. However, there’s no difference to the functionality of InstantMovie in Elements 9 compared to version 8 – you just have more template options. So this remains a useful tool if you’re in a hurry or new to editing, but it can’t work miracles.
There are few changes to the underlying software engine. Premiere Elements doesn’t use the 64-bit Mercury Playback Engine of the latest Premiere Pro, although Adobe has allegedly incorporated some of the CS5 technologies to provide optimised HD editing. In practice, we found Premiere Elements 9 a little more fluid than the previous version with AVCHD and HDV-encoded clips, but the performance difference isn’t the sea-change we experienced from the move to Premiere Pro CS5 from CS4.
There are a couple of new effects and filters. You can add a plethora of cartoon effects using the NewBlue Cartoonr Plus Elements filter. This is essentially an artwork filter that converts your video to a hand-drawn 2D cartoon look. There is a host of presets, and options to vary the parameters of line and colouring in, to give precisely the look you want. It’s a fun filter, and great if you want to create a stylised video or sequence. However, like every elaborate effect, you won’t use it every day.
(centre)”’NewBlue’s Cartoonr Plus is the major effect addition, allowing you to create a stylised cartoon look for your videos”’(/centre)
Another new addition from the NewBlue stable is NewBlue Cleaner, which attempts to fix problem audio automatically. There are separate controls for reducing general noise and specifically for hum. We tried clips with considerable hiss and others with electrical RF hum, and the results were reasonable. However, NewBlue Cleaner doesn’t go so far as to allow you to sample an area of noise and subtract it from the remaining clip, which is the most effective system. You will still need a standalone audio editing tool for fixing problems with this level of sophistication.
If you’re a Mac user of Elements, you have another new addition as well. Videomerge, which was already available on the PC version of Elements since version 7, is now included on the Mac version as well. This is a rather powerful assisted compositing tool, using Adobe’s extremely capable technology in this area. The Mac inclusion signifies parity at last between Elements on the two platforms, with exactly the same features available on both.
(centre)”’You can now output Web DVDs, which act like DVDs but are delivered over the Internet to a regular Web browser”’(/centre)
The remaining improvements are focused on the output stage. It’s now possible to create Web DVDs directly from Premiere Elements. This builds a webpage and associated media subfolders that mimic an interactive DVD menu but are delivered via the Internet. You can copy the main HTML file and media to your site, and link to the Web DVD from your homepage. In our testing, this didn’t appear to require any special video streaming capabilities on the webserver. We placed the Web DVD assets on standard webspace and it played just fine, albeit a little jerky in places, and interaction functioned like a DVD.
As with Photoshop Elements 9, it’s now possible to share videos and photos on Facebook, although not directly from the main app. Instead, this operates through the Elements Organizer. You can upload single videos or whole albums of photos, with the ability to provide the necessary titles and descriptions. Facebook is fast becoming the key place to share everyday social snaps and clips, particularly as more and more camera-equipped mobile phones are now able to upload to Facebook directly. So it’s good to see Adobe keeping up with this trend.
Premiere Elements has been our consumer-grade editing software of choice for some time now, although competition has been stiff from Corel’s VideoStudio and, increasingly, CyberLink’s PowerDirector. For once, however, we have to say that current users of Premiere Elements 8 are more than likely not to find enough here worth the upgrade.
Whereas the ninth incarnation of Photoshop Elements also has little change to its underlying engine, at least it incorporates some significant new filters. The additions to Premiere Elements 9 are less groundbreaking. Nevertheless, if you’re a newcomer to video editing, or using a version of Premiere Elements earlier than 8, this is still the most fully featured consumer-grade video editing app out there. It’s just that we’d have liked to see more here to tempt existing users to remain up to date.
Score in detail
|Program Type||Image Editing|
|Max Licensed Users||1 User|
|System Requirements||For PC: Processor: 2 GHz or faster with SSE2 support 3 GHz required for HDV or Blu-ray Dual-core required for AVCHD Operating System: Windows XP with Service Pack 2 Windows Media Center Windows Vista Windows 7 Hard Disk: 4 GB space to install applications Additional 5 GB to install content Memory: 1 GB RAM 2 GB required for HD editing (including HDV, AVCHD, or Blu-ray) Optical Drive: DVD-ROM (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs; compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray Disc media) Others: Graphics card with the latest updated drivers 1024×768 display resolution at 96dpi or less DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder, or a USB2 interface to connect a DV-via-USB compatible DV camcorder QuickTime 7 software (required if importing/exporting QuickTime formats) Windows Media Player (required if importing/exporting Windows Media formats) Internet connection required for Internet-based features For Mac: Processor: Multicore Intel Operating System: Mac OS X v.10.5.8 through v.10.6 Hard Disk: 4 GB to install applications Additional 5 GB to install content Memory: 2 GB RAM Optical Drive: DVD-ROM (compatible DVD burner required to burn DVDs; compatible Blu-ray burner required to burn Blu-ray Disc media) Others: Graphics card with the latest updated drivers 1024×768 display resolution DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface to connect a Digital 8 DV or HDV camcorder, or a USB2 interface to connect a DV-via-USB compatible DV camcorder QuickTime 7 software (required if importing/exporting QuickTime formats) Internet connection required for Internet-based features|