Adobe Premiere Elements 13 review
Adobe Premiere Elements has been on an interesting journey since it first appeared in 2004. Closely modelled on Premiere Pro, its effects and animation tools were – and still are – more advanced than any other consumer editor. However, the ability to vary the acceleration of animated objects using Bézier curves isn’t usually the first thing home users tend to look for. Subsequent versions have reorientated the software increasingly towards casual home users, although it’s only in the past couple of years that the beginner- and enthusiast-orientated features have sat comfortably alongside each other.
Premiere Elements 13 review: Guided mode
The Guided mode introduced in version 12 helped to bridge that gap, with interactive walkthroughs that show exactly where to click to achieve various tasks. We’re happy to see more in this update, although we’d have liked more than two. One shows how to make video appear inside text on a black background. It’s a convoluted process that’s hard to stumble upon by accident, making it a perfect candidate for a Guided tutorial. Even better, the techniques are transferable to other tasks such as creating a custom-shaped mask for a picture-in-picture video overlay.
The other Guided tutorial explains how to limit effects to a rectangular mask. It’s not one of Premiere Elements’ standout features, since there’s no option to feather the edges of the mask. There are many other techniques that would benefit from the Guided treatment, such as slow- and fast-motion, chroma keying, Bézier keyframe animation and advanced colour correction. The export options could do with some explanation too, although we’d like to see a thorough redesign first. There are some notable omissions in the export templates, and it’s down to the user to make sure that the chosen settings match the specifications of the source footage.
Premiere Elements 13 review: Shake Stabiliser
The old Stabilizer effect has been removed to make way for a new Shake Stabilizer effect. We immediately ran into problems with this: project files created in Premiere Elements 12 had no stabilisation applied, and we weren’t allowed to apply the new effect if the resolutions of the project and the footage didn’t match. Frustratingly, there’s no option to adjust the resolution of an existing project – it can only be set as a new project is created. Even then, we were unable to create a project with a 2.7k resolution to match our GoPro Hero3 footage.
Otherwise, the new Shake Stabilizer effect is a vast improvement on the old one. Footage analysis is an offline process, and took ten times the footage length for 1080p clips on our Core i7-870 PC. Afterwards we were able to preview the effect in real-time – something that was impossible with the old Stabilizer effect. There’s detailed control over settings, and it was far more successful at tackling shaky footage. Shaky moving camerawork was transformed into silky-smooth motion. There’s also a No Motion option that made handheld footage taken from a static position look as if it had been shot using a tripod. It’s best to avoid the Quick analysis option, though. This halves the analysis time by looking at only every other frame; however, after we exported it we realised that it had discarded the other frames altogether.
Premiere Elements 13 review: Favorite Moments
The new Favorite Moments editor provides a simple way to identify the best parts of a clip. There’s a button to mark in and mark out, with highlighted sections appearing on a simplified timeline. It’s more approachable than chopping and truncating clips on the main timeline, particularly for those new to video editing. There’s also an option to let the software select sections automatically, although its choices didn’t seem particularly inspired. Still, we suspect that some experienced users will appreciate Favorite Moments, simply because it’s an easy way to mark sections of a clip for use without having to stop playback.
Video Story is a new feature that’s aimed squarely at casual users. It does away with the timeline altogether, instead inviting the user to organise clips into chapters. Eight themed templates are available, and although we’d have like a few more generic ones, it’s possible to rename the chapters to fit the footage. Video Story then uses the Favorite Moments editor to pick out which parts of footage to use, either manually or automatically. An edited video is assembled automatically, but it’s possible to vary the pace of cuts, choose different background music and select from four effects. This kind of automatic editing is a common feature in consumer video-editing software, but for once the results are up to scratch. The templates aren’t overly twee or attention-grabbing, and there’s scope for the user to take control.
Premiere Elements 13 review: verdict
As usual, most of the new features in this update will appeal to casual users than to enthusiasts. However, the latter group are already well catered for. The ability to create sophisticate animated graphics such as titles and logos makes it ideal for people creating videos for business use but can’t justify a Creative Cloud subscription. Meanwhile, the new features make this an excellent choice for home use, too.
|Software subcategory||Video editing software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||no|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||no|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||yes|