Many of you read my review of Premiere Elements 3 last year, in which we talked about the impressive number of features that Adobe is now making available in their consumer-priced video editing software. Well, it’s a new year and Adobe has released Premiere Elements 4 alongside Photoshop Elements 6. (If you haven’t read my review of Photoshop Elements 6, you can check it out here.)
The last Premiere Elements boasted improvements in onion-skinning animation, time lapse, and an added Sceneline Editor. So, has Premiere Elements4 added some serious new firepower for the beginning editor? While its improvements are somewhat more subtle than the ones that came out in Premiere Elements3, the new PE 4 boasts improvements in overall workflow, simplified editing options, and a number of additional export abilities. With that said, let’s break down the specifics of this useful program.
Premiere Elements 4 now has an interface now divided into three areas: Edit, Create Menus, and Share.
Ease of Use
The overall ease of use of Premiere Elements has improved with PE 4. Much like Photoshop Elements 6, they’ve tried to divide things into three main groupings of things you are likely to do: Edit, Create Menus, and Share. Edit functions much like it did in the last iteration, with a slide-style Scene Line (that reminds me of the old Premiere) and a more Premiere-Pro-style Timeline that includes multiple tracks for graphics, video, audio, voiceovers, and soundtracks. To try to simplify things, Premiere Elements now keeps audio with video tracks. This may seem like a great way to do things, so you don’t lose the audio tracks, but personally, I like to mix and match audio in a more traditional video-editing manner. (This new way causes audio clips and video clips to be shared similar to real estate, which reminds me far too much of the media-ambiguous Sony Vegas!) I would prefer they give you an option to do things the old way, while including (as a true benefit) a visual reference number, on both your video and audio clips. This way, if you accidentally slip your audio and video out of sync, you can easily slide them back into sync. Actually, that’s a feature, which is long overdue in higher end editing software.
Another ease of use feature, that they’ve implemented in the Edit menu (which is also a new option, but makes more sense to cover here), is the ability to add themes to your video project. Themes are like video style sheets (for those familiar with Word’s style sheets or the style sheets used in CSS on the web), including things like transitions, filters, menus, and fonts. The idea is to give you a simple drag and drop approach to make sure your film or video project is consistent. While, like all things of this nature, it’s not perfect (and still has some occasional gltiches with mis-connected theme clips), it’s actually not bad. It allows you to format an entire film and DVD quickly, then gives you time to tweak things. The only downside is that there aren’t a whole lot of themes to play with (somewhere in the range of 20 or so) and most of the ones that are here are a bit on the garish side, for anyone besides scrap book folks and wedding videographers. However, I’m sure they’ll start releasing additional theme packs in the future, which will give you additional ammo for this time saving tool.