Adobe Premiere Elements 11 review

Premiere Elements has always had a wider range of video-editing tools than iMovie, but cramming all those editing tools into a rather cluttered interface meant that it lacked iMovie’s ease of use. Adobe has finally acknowledged that problem and has given Premiere Elements 11 a fairly major interface overhaul.

In previous versions you were able to view the program’s editing timeline in two ways. The default option was to view the full timeline with its multiple audio and video tracks and a complex array of editing tools. There was also an option to switch the timeline into ‘sceneline’ mode instead, which just displayed a single video track that allowed you to arrange your video clips into a simple sequence of scenes.

Premiere Elements 11 expands that sceneline option and turns it into a completely new and self-contained editing mode, simply referred to as ‘Quick’ mode. When you launch the program it now opens in Quick mode by default, and – just to help things along – displays a large message telling you how to import your audio and video clips.

If you want to switch back to the traditional multi-track timeline then you can just click the ‘Expert’ tab at the top of the screen. However, Quick mode is a lot more versatile than the old sceneline, and many users will probably be happy to stay in Quick mode for much of the time. In fact, somewhat ironically, Quick mode actually reminds us of the original version of iMovie (before the revamp of iMovie ’08).

Premiere Elements’ new Quick mode is easy for new users to master

The timeline in Quick mode still has just a single video track for arranging your clips into the required sequence, and you can trim and cut clips here simply by moving the playback head to the point where you want perform the cut and then clicking on the scissors icon that appears at that point. However, Quick mode also includes a new Action Bar – a toolbar that runs along the bottom of the screen and provides access to many of the program’s most powerful features.

Beginners can just click the Instant Movie button in the Action Bar in order to select one of Premiere Elements’ built-in themes, and then let the program automatically compile your clips and create a complete movie for you. If you want more direct control over the editing process then there are several other buttons that allow you to select a wide range of options, such as colour adjustment controls, transitions and special effects.

The Time Remapping tool lets you create ‘slow-mo’ and ‘fast-mo’ effects

This means that you can do some quite detailed editing and effects works just in Quick mode, without ever having to switch into Expert mode. That will also help to smooth the transition for iMovie users who are starting to use Premiere Elements for the first time. When you are ready for Expert mode you’ll find that the Action Bar remains the same, and the only thing that really changes is the addition of extra tracks to the timeline, so the transition between Quick mode and Expert mode is relatively painless too.

As well as the new interface, Premiere Elements also gains some new effects tools. The one that will get used the most is probably the Time Remapping option, which allows you to speed up clips, slow them down, or put them completely into reverse. It’s a fun effect to play with, and will probably get used in endless home videos. There are also a number of new ‘film look’ filter effects that adjust colour and lighting to create effects such as ‘horror’ and ‘vintage newsreel’. Adobe has also simplified some of the program’s existing tools, such as colour adjustment, which now provides a simple set of slider controls and thumbnail previews, rather than the complex colour wheels of previous versions.

OUR VERDICT

The main improvement in Premiere Elements 11 is the redesigned interface, which makes the program much easier to use and will really help to smooth the transition from iMovie. However, features such as Time Remapping also make Premiere Elements 11 even more powerful, making this a very worthwhile upgrade for both experienced users and newcomers who want to switch up from iMovie.

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