Adobe Premiere Elements 2 review
Video editing has become easier through the years, particularly with the advent of FireWire and real-time effects. But it’s still very time-consuming and a process only true hobbyists will persevere with. Fortunately for them, when Adobe released Premiere Elements last year it targeted above the entry level, so it wasn’t as hamstrung by aiding the complete novice as Pinnacle or Ulead’s low-cost options. Thankfully, this second version doesn’t change that. There are plenty of enhanced usability features, but this is still very much the next step up for the beginner, rather than the first rung.
The interface itself hasn’t changed much either. However, Adobe has realised that the floating windows in Elements 1 were too much of a legacy of the professional Premiere heritage. The rigid contextualised workspaces of version 1 could also be limiting, particularly the separate editing, effects and advanced effects modes. Elements 2 glues all the various palettes together within the application, and unites the editing and both effects modes into a single Edit mode. You can still resize windows and drag palettes around, or remove unused palettes.
The result is somewhat busier than before but, once you’re used to it, more convenient. Apart from capture and DVD output, you can now spend the majority of your time without having to switch context. The Effect Controls palette is always available, but has become the Properties window. It changes its contents with context, and in Edit mode includes Image controls as well as Motion and Opacity. The Image controls allow immediate access to brightness, contrast, hue and saturation settings. The Opacity section now adds quick fade-in and -out tools, although you can still create your own custom ones using transparency rubber bands on the timeline. Under Motion, there are quick rotation buttons for use with non-4:3 footage shot on devices such as mobile phones.
Capture mode no longer pops up a new window. Instead, the workspace is rearranged to accommodate it. This mode still only supports FireWire camcorders, but it’s no longer the only way to acquire footage. As well as allowing you to import already captured footage, the Add Media button can call up the new Media Downloader. This is used for bringing in clips from optical discs and removable drives, including DVD-based and USB 2-attached camcorders. Native file format support includes 3GP and 3GPP2, ASF, MPEG1, 2 and 4, and even the MOD files created by JVC’s Everio camcorders. The MOD and VOB files are conformed to regular MPEG for editing and saved to a temporary folder on a local hard disk. These files can be given a sensible name as they’re imported via the Media Downloader. However, HDV is conspicuous by its absence. Adobe told us it didn’t think the demand was there yet, but it’s certainly a checkbox missing compared to the forthcoming Avid-powered Pinnacle Studio 10 and Ulead’s MediaStudio Pro 8 (see p80).
Like the capture applet, the titler and DVD menu creation tools are embedded into the workspace rather than on pop-up windows. The titler now includes twice as many title templates and effects, and new titles are automatically saved to the media bin on creation, saving you the hassle. The DVD-authoring abilities are greatly improved as well. Where Elements 1 merely allowed preset templates, version 2 offers more control. As well as changing text, you can now move and resize both text and buttons, with automatic warnings when you accidentally overlap clickable elements. You can even create motion menus and buttons.