Everyone is taking videos these days. Whether you have a high-end HD video camera or you are shooting video on your phone, you are gonna need a way to edit it and make it look good. Adobe Premiere has been a standard for many years for consumers and prosumers alike. Personally, I have been using Premiere Elements since version 4 (PRE4). And I love it! It is much easier to learn to use than its big brother “Premiere” and of course it has a more reasonable price tag. Two years back I jumped up to Adobe Premiere Elements 7. It’s been great and does everything I need it to do. So I was very eager to dive into the newest edition, Adobe premiere Elements 9. It turns out that there are some very cool new features, but there are also some drawbacks.
In Adobe Premiere Elements 9 they have added Organizer. It’s a very well designed program to keep track of all your photos and video. You can sort them by date and by a variety of tags. Organizer is also the portal for putting your videos onto the web (Facebook, Flickr etc.).
More importantly, how is the video editing? As we have come to expect from previous versions of Premiere Elements, it’s easy and efficient. The software offers loads of effects, transitions and all of them are manually tweakable. To me this is one of the best features. You may choose a nice effect, but if you could change it just a little it’d be perfect. PRE lets you do that.
For example, one of the new effects is the Cartoon effect that you can apply to give your video a “Saturday morning cartoon” feel. But if you don’t like it, you have all these settings available in order to make it just right.
They have also added in some nice audio effects. One, Audio Polish, is a nice way to remove the background noise from your video.
Another great addition to the audio tools is SmartSound. You can choose from dozens of music styles and then fine tune it even more by selecting one of several variations. But the best part of it is that you can specify the length so that it matches perfectly with you movie. This eliminates the need to add or delete clips in order to fit the song you chose. It’s a perfect fit every time.
Motion Tracking is a great addition and a cool idea. You will need to carefully choose your video in order to make this work. But if you do have a stable video, you can allow PRE9 to find trackable objects itself or you can identify them. You get a rectangle to mark an object that will be tracked. Then you can attach images or text to “follow” the selected area. You won’t be able to give everyone in your videos lightsabers with only a few clicks, but you will be able have fun with it. This kind of technology has been until now relegated to much pricier video production suites, so it’s great to see it included at this price-point and with such ease of use.
Other cool features include Smart Trim, which is able to automatically trim away shaky footage. For the lazy amongst us, InstantMovie is another cool new feature in PRE9 that can automatically edit together a “Hollywood”-like movie complete with titles, effects, transitions and music by choosing from one of the InstantMovie themes. So if you are in a hurry to create your movie, you can use InstantMovie. Simply select the images and videos you want to use, select the theme and voila! You have a movie. I’d like to see a lot more themes available (you can get more if you are a Plus member of Adobe online). But it creates a fun little movie and it’s really easy. And as with the other effects, you can make a number of adjustments so that it comes out just how you like it.
The Sharing Center in PRE9 offers a ton of formats for video export. You can save your video as flv, avi, wmv, mov, DVD and back to DV tape. Web DVDs look like a great new idea. They are basically the same as a regular DVD, but are designed to be viewed online. You can also export and upload directly to YouTube, and the sharing center also offers quick presets for exporting video to your iPod/iPhone. And finally, you can work with HD Video and create Blu-ray Discs too!
I have only just scratched the surface of the features packed into PRE9. It’s important to note that PRE 9’s layout is pretty intuitive but sometimes you can get lost in all of the menu tabs and lists, so it does take a bit of getting used to where everything is. That said, I prefer the user interface to iMovie which I actually don’t think is all that intuitive.
And although I am pleased with PRE9, it is a power hungry program. And it has a large footprint, for example, PRE7 was 480MB installed. However, PRE9 is nearly 5GB! And that is not including several GBs of creative content that comes packaged. That should give you an idea of how much they have packed into this update. That said, if you have a blazing fast new PC, then you may have no trouble using PRE9. I on the other hand, am using a dual core 2Ghz processor with 4GB of RAM and it was a bit unstable. This having been said, PRE is a still a great easy-to-use program, but even the older versions had stability issues. All in all, Premiere Elements 9 truly is a powerful video editing application. And as such it needs a powerful computer. Regardless, this latest edition of Premiere Elements is still one the best choices out there if you want to have serious fun with the videos you are taking without breaking the bank. Adobe Premiere Elements 9 retails for just $63.99 at Amazon.
The Good: Many slick new features including motion tracking, audio polish, web DVDs and cool new effects. Easy social media sharing. Great for novice or pro alike. Available for both Mac & PC.
The Bad: Needs a fast processor and a lot of RAM to run smoothly