Adobe Premiere Elements…not quite iMovie

Name: Adobe Premiere Elements (version 13)
Cost: $99 (approximately…there are deals you can search for)
Type: Software
Rating: 3/5

Premiere Logo

I’m not here to argue Mac vs. PC. I have a PC. I’ve always had a PC, but I’ve worked on a Mac from time to time. I suspect that if Macs were more affordable and I had the time to learn a new environment, I’d be cool and make the change. But, I have a PC. This means I don’t have access to iMovie. The only reason I know how cool iMovie can be is because I took a 90-minute course at my local library to learn the basics. I loved this software in that 90-minutes, but not enough to make the switch to Mac. Adobe Premiere Pro is the comparable software that will work on a PC. As noted in previous posts, I’m not one of those college professors who makes enough money to afford leasing Adobe products through the Creative Cloud option. Don’t cry for me yet. Being a student and professor allows me to take advantage of software discounts, so I purchased Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements (combo pack) for Students/Teachers.

Goal: find a video creation tool with more features than Camtasia (i.e., iMovie for a PC)

Premiere eLive view

You can easily access recent tutorial videos on common video editing tasks. The eLive list of videos is not exhaustive, and I still end up searching the Internet for other options. But, I do find the videos inspirational in that I don’t consider the options until seen in the tutorial.

Benefits:

  • It has professional editing features such as 3D transitions, pan/zoom (so I can show a photo, and zoom), or graphics that can be added to the video (e.g., a heart that moves across the screen).
  • The Project Assets list has all the clips, graphics, and audio that you identified to add to your video. I like that there is a “used” notation in the list so that I know I’ve already added certain media clips to my video.
  • Like Photoshop Elements, access to training videos is provided in the software under the eLive tab. If you don’t have time for training videos, try the Quick or Guided tabs for help doing common tasks in the software.
  • You can fast-forward when previewing the video. I like to check my transitions and other features in my video, but I dislike having to watch the video (over and over), so I can watch a sped up version (where I sound like a chipmunk).
  • The are “snap lines” when inserting media. So, when I want to match up the start of narration with the end of the previous transition, there is a line that appears to emphasize the beginning/end in the timeline.
  • .AVI is an accepted video file format to insert into my video. This is the file format used when doing screen captures through Camtasia or SnagIt. (See related Drawback below)
    Premiere Guided viiew

    When in either Quick or Expert edit modes, you can access Guided, which gives you some tutorial options for common tasks.

    Premiere workspace view 1

    Here is a view of the workspace with several options open.

Drawbacks:

  • This is not the software’s fault, but within weeks of my purchase, Premiere 14 was released. Argh! This is what happens when you don’t lease your software through CC. (There is a list of the differences between 13 and 14.)
  • The workspace can get cluttered, even on my not-so-small monitor. With experience, I figured out how to open/close what I needed to reduce clutter, but a large monitor is certainly helpful. I can’t imagine do this on a laptop.
  • I’m a little bit old school in that I like printed books to help me with software that has many features. There are few book choices for this software, and of that few, none seem to be outstanding in what is offered in way of explanations and insights.
  • While .AVI files can be used, they render quite awful, as you’ll see in my sample. To fix this, I had to convert the AVI files to Mp4 files and use those versions during the editing process. (Camtasia doesn’t require this extra step and the AVI files will render fine.)
  • The zoom/pan feature is tedious (not my first word for describing, but appropriate). I ran out of patience when trying to zoom out of a graphic to add visual interest to the graphic as it appeared on the screen. I didn’t like the way it was showing up with the zoom/pan, but I couldn’t get it out of the video without just clicking “undo” until it was (hopefully) gone. Adding text to overlay the video was just as tedious. For those with more patience, there is a tutorial video from Lynda.com that might provide insights: Pan/Zoom tutorial.
  • Initial start up takes a while. I suspect it’s checking for updates, but I just want to get to work when I click the Premiere icon.
  • While in use, the software froze for no apparent reason. (I was almost done with the video, and it stopped working. I had to shut it down and lost everything since the previous save, which wasn’t recent. It could be a Windows 10 issue or something not related to Premiere.)
  • The “freeze frame” option only exports as .bmp file type, which YouTube doesn’t accept when trying to upload it as the Video Thumbnail. I had to convert the file to .jpg.

Premiere Quick timeline view

When you choose to use the Quick version to edit videos, the timeline is very simple in that you don’t see the timelines for multiple video/audio clips. You’d have to switch to Expert view to see multiple timelines.

Insider View: To be fair, I have had many years experience with Camtasia, so working with audio, video, and still clips in a timeline wasn’t new to me. If you’re new to working with clicking and dragging content into the video’s timeline, then any video making tool is likely to be a little frustrating. This timeline isn’t any more difficult to work with than other tools I’ve used. Although I have posted a drawback as the size of the workspace, within an hour or two, I got more comfortable with it.

Final Thoughts: As of right now, before I’ve really test-run other video making tools, I would say Premier Elements is worth the money if it’s bundled with Photoshop Elements (for students/teachers) or obtained through other discounts. I think it is better than Windows Movie Maker since Premiere is closer to having all the features of iMovie. I would probably still prefer iMovie if given the choice, but that might be because I had a 90 minute crash course on iMovie and got to see how I should be using the software’s features. At this point, I am not sure if I’d give up Camtasia for converting slides to video…in my perfect digital media world, I would like to combine the features of both tools.

Link: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere-elements.html

Samples: This is a pretty basic video, as I didn’t need most of the visual features to cover my topic. You can’t actually see the work I put into the video because it was mostly merging the screen capture with the PowerPoint JPG files I created, along with editing the screen capture to exclude all the extraneous actions I went through because I didn’t really know what I wanted to capture until I started SnagIt’s recording feature. As noted above, the rendering of the screen capture video is awful when scrolling and switching screens. (You’ll probably notice a few errors in the graphics that come up…I didn’t see them in the first version because the timeline wasn’t stretched out enough to see graphics that were fewer than two seconds long.) Again, you can’t tell that it wasn’t made with Camtasia.

The second video is a little more dynamic, but again I didn’t fiddle with it too much as I had limited time to produce the video. I used video content from Pixabay, but then created text graphics through PowerPoint. You can add text via Premiere, but it’s just easier to import a graphic and insert it at the key point; this way, I could resize and move the text around the screen with ease.

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