Adobe Premiere Elements is the quintessential family program: Anyone can peel off a few video clips and use it to prep a post for their YouTube or Facebook page in a blink of an eye. The interface makes even complex pro features, such as motion tracking, seem easy. And its guided edits — signature interactive tutorials — ensure that no one gets lost.
Premiere Elements differs from other video software because, although it is not a suite, it's designed to work with companion photo editor Photoshop Elements and an Organizer that assembles all media elements in one place for accessing, viewing and searching. Launching the video editor lets you import, and then drop, clips into a timeline. You can create a quick, template-based movie with Video Story or Instant Movie, or choose from the Guided or Expert tabs that offer a variety of custom features. Premiere Elements makes newcomers to video editing feel at home.
Drag and drop clips from the Organizer app, or create a new video project directly in the app.
Now at version 14, Elements is a mature program that most recently introduced support for 4K ultra-HD video. Improved motion titles in an assortment of themes and categories animate text and graphics. Available via drag and drop, a selection of customizable templates from Adobe's server offer a palette of fresh title choices. New Guided Edits introduce a Color Pop feature and improved options that let you play parts of your movie in slow or fast motion.
Sound effects and voiceovers are easy to create and insert into the timeline.
We tested the program on an HP Spectre x360 laptop running Windows 10 Home. Its 64-bit Intel Core i5 processor with 5200U CPU runs at 2.2 GHz on an HD Graphics 5500 system with 8GB of RAM. We combined six clips into a 2.5-minute video shot at 60 frames per second and rendered the projects to MPEG 4 at 720p. We timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps.
Premiere Elements' superfriendly interface is its claim to fame.
Premiere Elements was swift and stable in my tests. Every move — from splitting clips to adding music or voiceovers — executed promptly. Rendering speed was quite competitive; Premiere Elements took second place in the 30-fps test, beat only by Pinnacle, which zipped past it with a 30-fps render time of 1:19:93. Our 60-fps render test put it at the midpoint of competitors, at 5:01:67.
Unlike some other PC-based video tools, there is only one Premiere Elements, the consumer version of Premiere Pro. (The latter program is part of the subscription-based Adobe Creative Cloud.) You can purchase Premiere Elements for $99.99, with upgrades from the previous edition priced at $79.99. Or, you can get it bundled with Photoshop Elements for $149. Either way, you get the Organizer.
Image stabilization works quickly and well.
Premiere Elements' superfriendly interface is its claim to fame. It holds your hand by providing workflow hints that appear directly on the canvas. There's no confusion when the timeline contains a box that reads, "Drop Files Here," complete with an arrow. The app offers plenty of online instructional materials under the eLive tab too, but you probably won't need them immediately. Support for high-DPI (Windows) and Retina displays (Mac) means you can always see your content in full resolution.
New Guided Edits walk you through each step of the new time-remapping feature, and many others.
The Quick tab lets you perform the most common editing tasks and also is great for adding titles, effects, transitions, background music and graphics to your clips. Although it would make sense for the Quick tab to provide the easiest route to editing, I actually found that the Guided tab provides the best interactive experience. Any element you want is available from the Action Bar at the bottom right of the screen, where pop-up menus allow access to Transitions, Titles & Text, Effects, Music and Graphics.
Pop-up menus hold text, transitions, special effects and graphics out of the way until you need them.
The Quick Export tab, accessed via the Export & Share button, offers specific output settings for iPads, iPods, smartphones, or 4K and HD TVs. You can create movies for traditional (4:3) or wide-screen (16:9) TV formats, or upload videos to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or your own website, just as you can with the other video-editing programs in this roundup. You can also burn HD movies to DVDs or share movies in 4K or AVCHD formats.
Adobe Premiere Elements 14 is, hands down, the most user-friendly video-editing program available for consumers. It's targeted to novice videographers who seek an unintimidating program with an abundance of pro-level features, such as motion tracking and picture-in-picture. Plus, it is cross-platform — the only program in this roundup that works with a Mac — available for OS X 10.9 or higher and Windows 7 or higher.