Adobe Premiere Elements is a simplified version of Adobe’s top-end video editing software that’s easier to use and offers step-by-step guidance. Even if you have no experience of editing a video, you can join clips and create a nice video with background music in a matter of a few minutes. It also has an Expert editing area that lets you combine up to three video tracks (each with many clips), four audio tracks and one music track.
Adobe Premiere Elements 2020 is available by itself or bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements. It can also be bought as an upgrade on previous versions (with or without Photoshop Elements) at a discounted price. The prices are as follows:
- Full – US $99.99 (approx £81)
- Upgrade – US $79.99 (approx £65)
Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 2020
- Full – US $149.99 (approx £122)
- Upgrade – US $119.99 (approx £98)
- 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
- Intel Core i7 and 16GB of RAM required for XAVC-S (4K editing)
- 1280×800 display resolution (at 100% scale factor)
- DVD-ROM drive (for installation from DVD)
- Internet connection required for product activation and content download
- 2GHz or faster processor with SSE2 support; dual-core processor required for HDV editing
- Microsoft Windows 10 (recommended versions 1809, 1903) or Windows 8.1 (Windows 7 not supported); 64-bit versions only (32-bit not supported)
- 6.1GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
- Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible sound and display driver
- Windows Media Player (required if importing/exporting Windows Media formats)
- DVD burner required to burn DVDs Mac OS
- 64-bit multicore Intel processor
- Mac OS v10.12 through v10.14
- 8GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10GB to download all optional content (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices) For both Windows and Mac OS
- AVCHD (import only)
- DV-AVI (import/export on Windows)
- DVD (Windows Only)
- H.264, HDV, MPEG-1 (import only)
- MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3,
- QuickTime (limited codecs),
- Windows Media (Windows only), and more.
Adobe Premiere Elements has 3 video editing modes, Quick, Guided or Expert. Quick Edit is useful when you need to just quickly trim a video or join a few clips together.
After selecting the ‘Combine photos and videos to create a single movie’ option, you’re asked to select a few clips from your file navigation structure. Once you’ve selected the files you want, you just need to tap ‘Import’ and Adobe Premiere Elements imports the clips, arranging them in a timeline with a cross-dissolve transitions between each one. If you click on the transition in the timeline, you can change the style.
You can also select each clip in turn to make some simple edits. Click on the ‘T’ icon that appears above the clip in the timeline to add text, for example, or tap on the scissor icon in the bottom right corner to access the Smart Trim or Time Stretch controls.
Smart Trim uses Adobe’s Sensei technology to find the most interesting parts of your video clips and trim them down. You can also intervene if you want to include other areas, but I can be a useful starting point.
It’s also possible to add additional clips, adjust the sound volume and add some background music from the Elements library.
Once you’re happy, just tap Render to create your video.
Like the Guided Edit mode in Adobe Photoshop Elements, the Guided Edit mode in Premiere Elements takes a task-based approach. This means that you’re presented with a selection of jobs such as ‘Get started’, ‘Trim and split clips’, ‘Add transitions between clips’, ‘Add titles’, ‘Fix brightness, color and contrast’, and ‘Add an adjustment layer’.
The options are spread across four tabs labelled ‘Basics’, ‘Video Adjustments’, ‘Audio Adjustments’ and ‘Fun edits’.
Premiere Elements 2020 adds some new Guided Edits over those on offer with the 2019 version. These include ‘Fill Frame’, which fills the sides of a video shot in upright format, ‘Animate Sky’, to add a moving sky to a still image and ‘Create Time-lapse video’.
However, the Guided Edits work like a wizard within the Expert Edit area. So once you select the Guide you want to use, it takes you into the Expert editing mode and highlights the controls you need to use or the features you need to access.
If you jump right into something like ‘Add transitions between clips’, Premiere Elements prompts you to import some clips by clicking on the ‘Add Media’ button to reveal all the potential sources (including the Elements Organizer).
A dialogue box explains the actions you need to take. If you do what it says, or tap on the advance icon, it moves to the next stage. You need to keep your eyes peeled for teal arrows and selection boxes that show you where to find the controls you want.
While you can use the Guided Edits to perform the edits you want to your clips or images, in some cases they work best as tutorials to learn how to use key features available in Expert mode.
Although it’s the most advanced option for editing video with Adobe Premiere Elements, there’s still some help on offer in the Expert section. The first screen allows you to select whether to import media, use a template to create a movie, use titles or learn about video editing. The last option takes you straight to the Guided Edits area.
Clicking on ‘Create a template based movie’ allows you to select whether you want to create a video story, and Instant movie or a video collage of clips and stills. Once you’ve made your selection, the software downloads any extra content such as title styles etc that are required.
Although the templates make light work of piecing together titles, transitions, stills, video clips and music, I’m not completely sold on them. The Travel Diary and Party templates, for example, produce something that seems like a montage scene from a 1980’s TV show. You can export them to the timeline for more editing, but I think it’s easier to use the Guided edits to learn what you need to do to create something in the standard Expert mode timeline.
If you get stuck, just click on Guided and find the tutorial that explains what you need to do.
When you get the point that you want to apply adjustments to your clips, there are simple clickable thumbnails available in each control tab. However, if you click on ‘More’ in the bottom right corner of the control panel, you get access to sliding controls. These make getting the result you want easier.
Video editing is a complex process that takes time to learn. However, Adobe has broken it down into sensible sections in Premiere Elements. The Guided Edits are well thought through and they’re easy to follow.
I’m not a fan of the templated videos, but they’re worth trying. You may not like them, but you’ll learn something about what can be done with Adobe Premiere Elements. It also gives you a few ideas about what works and what doesn’t with certain clips. And of course, you can use one as a starting point in the timeline.
While the controls are easy to use, there are some powerful features within Adobe Premiere Elements. You can add a range of transitions, fade audio in and out and ramp speed changes. With a little practise, it’s possible to create very slick videos.