Tue, 20 Sep 2011 Adobe Premiere Elements 10 review
A powerful upgrade to this affordable video-editing program.
- Manufacturer: Adobe
- Pros: Powerful editing and special effects tools; new colour correction tools; competitive price
- Cons: Complex, poor documentation
- Min specs: 2GHz or faster processor; dual-core required for HDV or AVCHD editing and Blu-ray or AVCHD export; XP/Vista/Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 7 64-bit; 2GB of RAM; 9GB hard-disk space; Graphics card; 1024x768 colour display; DirectX 9 or 10 sound card; DVD-ROM drive; DV/i.LINK/FireWire/IEEE 1394, or a USB2 interface; QuickTime 7 software; Windows Media Player; Internet connection
- Price: £79 inc VAT (£119 with Photoshop Elements)
- Star rating:
Premiere Elements may be a relative newcomer on the Mac – we reviewed the inaugural version 9 barely a year ago – but it's a mature video-editing program that has been available for Windows PCs for many years. Its key editing features and tools are therefore already in place and well tested, and this latest update doesn't really try to make any radical changes. Instead, Premiere Elements 10 concentrates on a relatively modest number of important new features.
The main improvements within Premiere Elements 10 focus on colour correction and draw on technologies that were previously only available in the more expensive Premiere Pro. There are now two new colour correction options listed within the program's 'FX' menu – AutoTone & Vibrance, and the Three-Way Color Corrector.
The AutoTone & Vibrance effect boosts the tone and vibrance (which should probably actually be 'vibrancy') of colours within a clip. But, rather than uniformly boosting all the colours with that clip, it is able to leave skin-tones unaffected, ensuring that the people in your videos don't end up looking liked perma-tanned contestants on Strictly Come Dancing. You can apply this effect automatically with a simple click of your mouse (or trackpad), but you can also select the Edit Effects option in order to delve deeper and manually adjust settings such as brightness, contrast and exposure.
Three-way colour correction is another precision tool that allows you to focus on highlights, midtones and shadows within a video clip and to completely alter their colour balance. When you select this effect, Premiere Elements provides a preview of the clip that displays areas of highlights all in white, while midtones are displayed as grey, and shadows as black. This gives you an idea of which areas within the image will be affected as you go ahead and start to make some changes.
You can then use a 'tone wheel' to alter the colour of each of these areas. So you could select an area of white sky – which would be a highlight – and then use the colour wheel to turn it blue to indicate a sunny day, or perhaps orangey-red for a sunset scene. There's also a separate slider control that allows you to adjust the saturation of that particular colour, so you've got very fine control over the colours within a clip. And, like most of the effects within Premiere Elements these colour correction tools can be animated using keyframes, allowing you to perhaps gradually change the colour of the sky in order to indicate the passing of time.
One other important addition to the Mac version of Premiere Elements is the inclusion of 'SmartSounds'. This feature – which was already available in the Windows version of the program – gives you access to a selection of ready-made music and audio tracks that you can modify to use within your video projects.
There are a number of other smaller improvements and enhancements, as well. The Ken Burns effect that allows you to pan and zoom around photos can now use face-recognition technology to focus in on faces within a photo, or you can fine-tune the effect yourself by selecting specific areas that you want to zoom in on. There's also an option for creating an 'AVCHD disk', which allows you to burn about 20 minutes of high-definition video onto a conventional DVD disk.
All of these features work well, and we were also pleased to see that Premiere Elements 10 improves on the somewhat sluggish performance of its predecessor, and ran perfectly well on three-year old iMac with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.