Adobe has positioned Premiere Elements, an adjunct to the company's professional Premiere Pro app, squarely in the consumer arena. This program has a friendly, recognizable interface that goes down easy for amateur videographers and household memoirists. The company's strategy is to add features and interface enhancements in a way that won't freak out longtime users. For version 15 ($99.99), Adobe sticks with constructive and sensible everyday improvements like haze removal, better audio features, snazzy motion titles and face-detection enhancements. Adobe also stretched its companion Elements Organizer asset manager into additional creative abilities. Ultimately, this all makes Premiere Elements our favorite video editor.
Adobe Premiere Elements 15 ships for Macs and PCs with identical features, though a touch interface has been added to the Windows version. You can purchase Premiere Elements for $99.99, with upgrades from the previous edition priced at $79.99. Or you can bundle it with Photoshop Elements for $149. The Organizer ships for free with the program.
A Familiar Interface
Adobe doesn't like to tinker too much with its successful look and feel, preferring to subtly enhance and augment features. Thus, Premiere Elements 15's video-editing interface is familiar, with the timeline across the bottom and preview and content panels at the top of the window. The editing interface maintains its four mode tabs: eLive, Quick, Guided and Expert. I like that the content panel collapses when you're not using it, allowing for a more expansive view of the video.
Premiere Elements' flexible interface lets you concentrate on a clean, uncluttered video view.
With the quick Video Story, Instant Movie or the many elegant special effects that come with the program's guided edits, you will be sure to create an enjoyable viewing experience.
You can't separate out Premiere Elements from its helper Organizer app, which assembles and manages all your photos and videos. Version 15's updated Organizer has new search capabilities and convenient batch processing.
Automatic tagging and smart searching for images in the Premiere Elements Organizer companion app.
With the enhanced interface, you can view Smart Tags that the app has automatically placed on your images. You can now search these by Smart Tags, People, Places, Date, Folders, Keywords, Albums, Ratings and Media Types.
The Organizer now lets you mix up to seven still photos and videos into a single video collage, generating a compelling composite video to share on your social networks.
The Organizer's new video collage lets you pile still images and videos into a single framework for social network sharing.
Premiere Elements' new Haze Removal control will be familiar to those who used the last version of Photoshop Elements. De-hazing, derived from Adobe's Photoshop CC flagship app, enhances the clarity of cloudy, hazy backgrounds so that sharp, clear outdoor hues can shine through. It's like someone took a squeegee to your movies and wiped away a layer of dull coating.
Clear up that fog and cloud cover with the Haze Removal control.
It's always a challenge to match a song to the exact length of your movie; too often, the sound just ends abruptly. The new Remix feature lets you choose a music file and a simple drag and drop to match that tune to the length of any movie that's over a minute long. The app then reads through the song and trims and cuts it to just the right length, using natural sound and transitions.
The Remix feature allows you to effortlessly match the length of your sound clip to your video clip.
Say you had a group of different clips that you wanted to tie together with a unified look and feel: Premiere Elements' new Adjustment Layer guided edit makes this complex task easy to accomplish. It's similar to Magix's shot-matching feature, but it works on more than two clips at a time.
Adjustment Layer guided edit pulls together a group of clips into one edit style.
Adobe also extends its face-detection technology to features like Smart Trim, Favorite Moments, and Pan and Zoom, to give priority to the people in your videos. You can turn a still photo into a people-centric pan-and-zoom movie, and tweak the time and space the camera spends on each person. The software finds and lets you create face frames to customize size, order and duration.
Use the smart Pan and Zoom feature on still photos or videos.
No 360-video editing
Competing video editors have entered into more exotic, prosumer-level technologies where Adobe's consumer app has not yet ventured: CyberLink PowerDirector 15, Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus and Corel VideoStudio all support multicam editing, the new H.265 (HEVC) codec and 360-degree video clips to various degrees. If any of these features are priorities for your projects, then you'll want to consider those programs instead.
The Export & Share button leads you to the Quick Export tab, providing output settings for devices, discs, online venues, audio and images, with various settings under each of those categories, from smartphones and 4K to HD TVs. You can create movies for traditional or wide-screen TVs, or upload to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo or your own website, as you can with CyberLink, Corel, VideoPad and iMovie. Each choice has the requisite options of its platform. With YouTube sharing, for example, you can designate details like category, public or private, title, and description, or with Facebook, you can decide with whom to share.
You can also burn movies to DVD and Blu-ray. Premiere Elements has a large inventory of customization options that you can tailor and save as presets to use with particular videos. That way, you do not have to stick with the default settings for everything.
You'll find plenty of template-based sharing and custom export tweaking for speed and quality.
I tested Premiere Elements on an HP Spectre x360 laptop running Windows 10 Home. Its 64-bit Intel Core i5 processor with a 5200U CPU runs at 2.2 GHz on an HD Graphics 5500 system with 8GB of RAM. I combined five clips into a 2.5-minute video shot at 60 frames per second and rendered the projects to MPEG 4 at 720p. I timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps.
I had no problems performing any operation, and handling was responsive with no stability issues. Rendering speed fell behind that of most other packages, however, for both 30 frames per second and 60 fps, with speeds of 5:30 and 8:08, respectively. CyberLink PowerDirector (1:58 and 3:07) and Corel VideoStudio (1:11 and 3:30) came in first and second.
Adobe Premiere Elements 15 is our favorite video-editing program because its superfriendly interface is targeted to novice videographers seeking an unintimidating environment, yet it offers a profusion of pro features. It gets extra credit for being the only commercial program in this roundup that works with both Macs and PCs and because its Smart Organizer plays an increasingly pivotal role in some of this version's new features. While I wish Premiere Elements supported certain emerging editing technologies, such as 360-degree video editing, overall Elements is the best all-around video editor for novices and enthusiasts alike.
Screenshots: Jackie Dove