First Look: Adobe's Video Editor Gets Even Easier
At a Glance
People upload more than 65,000 videos to the YouTube video-sharing site every day. But with the release of Adobe's new Premiere Elements 3, YouTube might want to brace itself for an even bigger onslaught of uploads. This video editing application is so good and so easy to use, it may encourage even more people to share their videos.
Building With Storyboards
The most obvious update to the application is the addition of a storyboard feature (Adobe calls it a "Sceneline") to supplement the application's standard timeline. Both can serve as the application's main working platform for arranging video and audio clips and transitions, applying effects, adjusting sound levels, and implementing other features, but storyboards are more common in video editing applications aimed at novices.
Storyboards are easier to work with because they use fixed time slots--you drag your clips to boxes in the storyboard, and then drag transitions into boxes in between the clips (or, unique to Elements 3, you can right-click on the boxes and choose transitions from a list). Adobe's Sceneline even labels clip boxes with 'Drag a clip here to add to movie.' The Sceneline isn't much different than, say, Pinnacle Studio's storyboard (except that the boxes are bigger), but it's still a nice addition to the application; as with Pinnacle Studio, even experienced users may find it handy to use a storyboard to quickly assemble a rough layout, and then switch over to the timeline for finer control.
Most of the other improvements are relatively minor, but still welcome. You can now import and edit high-definition video (HD camcorders are still expensive and rare, but I appreciate the future-proofing). A new stop-motion capture mode lets you capture still images from your camcorder at regular, adjustable intervals (think Claymation). Just plug in your camcorder and set two parameters, and the application will automatically insert the still images into the Sceneline or timeline. I found that the feature works best on video footage that doesn't change much; otherwise the shifts in movement from frame to frame are too jarring; it would probably help to plan your video shoot ahead of time if you're going to use the feature.
Telling Your Story
Clicking a new button near the top of Premiere Elements' screen lets you record voice narration if you have a microphone attached to your computer. When you're done recording, the application automatically inserts your recording into a new "narration" track in the Sceneline or timeline. This feature is easy to use, and just the presence of the button encouraged me to add narrations.
Want to add a title screen to your composition? With previous versions, you had to drag the title into the timeline. Elements 3 lets you click a button and then begin typing; all the usual font styles and character controls are easily accessible in a nearby window.
One feature that's missing is a link to online video-sharing sites. Adobe has a new sharing site that's accessible from its PhotoShop Elements 5 app, but not from Premiere Elements; besides, the site very basic, and it just doesn't have the traffic that the more established sites have. I'd rather see some integration with YouTube and other popular sites--a one-touch "upload to video site" button would be a nice addition.
If you use Premiere Elements 2 and you're comfortable with its timeline, you may not consider Elements 3 a significant upgrade. Except for the Sceneline, the new version is mostly a collection of small enhancements. After all, the predecessor was excellent to begin with. But Elements 3 is just that much better.
Adobe Premiere Elements 3
This excellent video editor gets even better with the addition of a storyboard and several small improvements.
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