With Final Cut Express discontinued, Adobe's Premiere Elements 10's closest rival, iMovie, comes free with every Mac or can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for just over £10. So how can an editing package that costs nearly eight times as much hope to compete?
By offering tools and options that Apple left out of their own offering, such as being able to edit using multiple video layers, work with the native AVCHD files that came out of your HD camcorder (iMovie must reformat them, wasting time and storage space) and even design DVDs, complete with menus.
So what does version 10 bring to the table? The whole emphasis is on sharing and tagging your clips to make them easier to find. Adobe split the editing process into two programs.
The Organizer takes care of importing, cataloguing and tagging your clips – be they photos or videos – while the main app is where you build your project. You can send a clip from the Organizer straight to places like YouTube, Flickr or Facebook without any kind of processing if you like, but the whole point of an editing program is to edit, so few people may take advantage of that option.
Pan and zoom
A new powerful pan and zoom tool is now available, so you can create complex motion across an individual photograph. Unlike iMovie, you're not limited to just setting an end and start frame, but you can create multiple focus points and move across them over time. You can even pause the view for a few seconds on a specific area.
If editing feels too much like hard work, you can use the enhanced 'Auto-movie' options: choose the clips you want in the order you'd like to use them, select a theme and a few other parameters, and Premiere Elements will take care of the rest for you.
You can of course customise the end result should you like to apply a more personal touch to your project.
Colour-correcting video clips is now possible thanks to a new filter. By default, the process is automatic, but you can delve into it and manipulate the colours to your heart's content, even focusing solely on highlights, shadows or midtones.
When it comes to exporting your work, you'll be deluged with options: some of the new features include being able to upload to places such as Facebook, Flickr or YouTube, save an HD-quality movie onto a standard DVD disc to play it back on a Blu-ray player (as long as the movie's relatively short, of course) or even export the whole project back into AVCHD format.
All this sounds good, but sadly, there's a huge drawback to using Premiere Elements: if you're used to iMovie, you'll find the two-program approach confusing, and the lack of elegance can be felt throughout.
You have to double-click on a clip to preview it in a floating window for instance; and accessing all the menus and options begins to feel as if you've left your Mac and are exploring a new interface paradigm, which can be frustrating at times.
However, there's no doubt that you can achieve more with Adobe's Premiere Elements 10 than you can with Apple's iMovie.
But before investing in it, make sure you experiment with the 30-day demo, which is available to download from www.adobe.com. That way you can see if this app suits your needs.
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