Adobe Premiere Elements 4



Elements 4 box shotYou might be thinking, “What’s consumer software doing in a pro magazine?” The short answer is that if you aren’t using the Adobe Master Collection or the Production Premium suite, you probably need Adobe Premiere Elements 4. Whether you work as an advertiser, designer, developer, or photographer, you most likely have an interest in making videos or DVDs.

Sure, Adobe offers the very capable video applications found in the Creative Suite product line but for many users, it’s hard to spring for the “whole enchilada.” When I sat down with Premiere Elements, I was immediately impressed. The product offers an easy-to-use toolset that addresses the needs of many users.

Here’s the lowdown: Premiere Elements only runs on Windows machines. If you’re a Mac user, you should be looking to iMovie and iDVD ’08 to fill the same needs. On the PC side, the market has been woefully underserved by offerings from Adaptec and Microsoft. With version 4 of Premiere Elements, Adobe clearly steps up to offer a dramatic redesign, combining power with ease of use (an Adobe trademark).

The product boasts that you can create movies in as little as 15 minutes. While I think creativity takes a little more thought, Adobe certainly has cut through the tediousness of making a video. Your video assets stay organized in a user-friendly media library, which is similar to Adobe Bridge in that it lets you rank and search—in fact, it takes some of the better functionality of a Photoshop Lightroom experience and streamlines it. What’s nice is the ability to use tags and metadata to make a vast library more manageable.

The Timeline area is easy to use. Movie themes can jumpstart a project (although pros will find them a bit too kitschy). Fortunately, the Timeline offers excellent controls and the audio-editing ability is especially welcome. A powerful audio mixer makes it easy to mix music into your videos and it feels like you’re mixing with a real audio board. This nod to a traditional approach is very welcome and makes the process intuitive.

Those looking for effects will find no shortage as Premiere Elements 4 ships with a wide variety; however, it’s in the important areas of color correction and image enhancement that the application stands out. The program also includes a fast fix for shaky video that can help the videographer who still doesn’t understand that tripods are good and Wayne’s World rocking zooms are not.

While making a video is important; it’s the sharing part that matters. Adobe Premiere Elements 4 simplifies the Adobe Media Encoder engine and you can easily export video for iPods, cell phones, Flash video, and more. The direct to YouTube feature matches the ease of Apple’s iLife ’08 and makes publishing even private YouTube clips a snap.

The big surprise is the fact that Premiere Elements 4 also makes DVDs—both standard definition and Blu-ray discs are supported. You can choose from several functional templates or create your own backgrounds using Photoshop.

The bottom line: Adobe’s Master Collection and Production Premium suites offer fantastic video toolsets; however, if they intimidate you (or your company’s checkbook), then get started with Adobe Premiere Elements 4. Its capable tools will let you integrate video into your design process. Once you’ve proven the need for video to your clients or bosses…then upgrade.—Richard Harrington

PRICE: $99.99 (upgrade $79.99)
FROM: Adobe Systems, Incorporated

HOT Ease of use; great feature set
NOT PC only