PapaJohn Productions
Newsletter #132 Jan 6, 2007
Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0

Premiere Elements 3.0

I'm often asked to recommend other video editing and DVD making software.
Some are looking to leave Movie Maker because of problems they can't resolve, and others are looking for an app with more features. Whatever the reason, I've referred them to software suggested by others, not something I use myself, and feel strong enough about to endorse.
I downloaded the trial version of Adobe's Premiere Elements 3.0 and gave it a once over... after a few hours of exercising, It'll be what I recommend from now on. I'll be adding a page on my site about it... 
The snapshot shows a frame of my test... the larger video in the background is one of the captured camcorder clips, inside a mosque in Istanbul. The clip at the lower left is the high-definition story of last week's newsletter from PS3. The clip to the upper right is another camcorder clip from Istanbul.
The text, the resizings, and the angling of the clips were easily done when working the clips on the timeline, using 4 of the many video tracks available.

I was checking the basics, realizing this software is at a higher level than Movie Maker, but knowing too there's lots more options beyond it, such as its big brothers - Adobe Premiere Pro and Encore. It's a stepping stone from MM2, and also one toward the even fuller featured software... 
I give it a rating of 98... 
I'll show you more below in an introductory mini-tutorial...
DVD Making
Here's a 30 second sample video clip - showing the kind of PIP type effects you can do in Premiere Elements without having to use add-ons or other software... size, position, rotate, and set the transparacy value of each of clip used to whatever you want. 
... before getting into it, here are a couple short notes...

Happy New Year!!!
Vista Corner... I'm deep into the writing of the new article for MaximumPC, the reason why next week's topic will be about a couple wizards in it...
I just signed up to attend the MVP Summit at Microsoft... in early March.
.... back to the main topic...

Premiere Elements 3.0....
Opening MenuOpen Premiere Elements to start at this menu, with a picklist of recently opened projects below it

Before starting a new project, let's take a quick look at the options in Setup... your choice of defaults
Note the HDV options. We won't explore them in this issue... I'm not trying to compare Elements to Movie Maker in Vista, just MM2 in XP.
It calls the settings 'Presets'... the button to make a new one lets you make your own.

Close the setup window and start a 'New Project'... 
I selected the newsletter folder and named the project Istanbul. The Istanbul.prel and Istanbul.log project and log files were opened in the folder.
New Project

Capture Camcorder Footage
With my digital camcorder connected by firewire, the main working windows included one that was ready to capture video... it had named the set of clips Istanbul.avi from the project file name, so I pressed the Get Video button...
Starting Work Area
The preview monitor size during capture was as large as I wanted, and I heard the audio on the computer in addition to the camcorder. I let it capture about 30 minutes of our vacation footage of Istanbul... I started with some darker indoor footage of the Whirling Dervishes to be able to check how the app did with darker clips.
I did other stuff as it captured... worked on this newsletter, took screen shots with IrfanView, responded to posts on forums.
With everything going on, CPU usage was at about 10%, memory usage at 717 MB (8 apps open - Elements was using 166 of the 717 MB). My system has 2 GB of RAM.
A set of DV-AVI files was made in the project folder, one for each scene.
Interesting Error MessageAll was going fine until something stopped and gave me this interesting error message. I don't usually pay attentions to the date/time code on a tape, I didn't know why some of the recording wouldn't have it.... maybe I manually skipped forward a few seconds on the tape at one point.
Scene Detect optionIt implied that if it wasn't doing scene detection it wouldn't need it. Looks like it was checked by default. 
Luckily it lasted only for a few seconds, and then resumed as normal.

Available Media (collections)
There were 52 DV-AVI files... listed in the Available Media window at the upper left, the equivalent of MM2's collections pane, but without a tree...
Captured Clips
Clip Preview Monitor
Double-click a clip and it'll play in a preview monitor...
...where you can set in and out points... trimming it before before adding to the project timeline.

From Available Media to the Timeline
Once trimmed, drag the clips you want from the Available Media pane to the sceneline (storyboard) or timeline... as you use clips, a green check mark is added to the 'Used' column of the pane.
Used clips

Import files from your hard drive...
The drop down list of file types indicates a wide variety of them will work in Elements (at least potentially... I didn't test them). My interest was in types I usually use in Movie Maker such as Photo Stories.
Import File Types
The preview window for audio files shows the wave patterns of both channels)
Preview WMA
For a wmv movie, I used the last one I had rendered with MM2.
For a story (wmv), I selected the hi-def sized one from last week's newsletter.
It accepted and used them all.

Editing the timeline
The timeline by default started with 3 video and 3 audio stereo tracks... you can add more.
I dragged a random assortment of clips to the timeline to make it about 20 minutes long, and then explored the editing...
Editing the timeline
It was easy to stack clips on the tracks over each other, and to scale and rotate them for the kind of picture-in-picture effects you see on the frame snapshot I opened with.
The widescreen clips where approprately shaped and letterboxed... even though I was using a standard 4:3 aspect ratio for the project.
The snapshot shows my arrangement before I added overlying text... it shows how the preview monitor aligns with the content of the timeline, like things work in Movie Maker.
The upper right working pane shows the various clip properties of a selected one on the timeline. That's where you can begin to change the settings. The changes are helped along with interactive controls that show up in the preview monitor.
I circled the ones I tweaked to make the clips rotate and resize. Use minus signs when something isn't rotating in the direction you want.
The opacity setting lets you adjust the transparancy of each clip. I used it when making the sample clip.
Clip Properties
The audio volume of a clip can be tweaked at each keyframe... add new keyframes where you want. The volume will ramp up and down, following the 'rubberband'. Rubberband

Export Options...

Export Options
I tested going to DVD and to Windows Media
  • The DVD option makes a standard video discs, not a data disc. I made a couple and they both played fine on the computer with WinDVD.
The mpeg-2 files for the disc go into sub-folders of the project... and from there to the disc. The rendering and burning takes time, as you'd expect. The important thing is the discs finish and play well other places. No coasters this week except for those I'm making in Vista's Movie Maker.
  • When exporting to Windows Media files (WMV9), I had MM2 running and rendering some projects at the same time. There were no conflicts.
Sometimes good things are what doesn't happen, not just the things that do.
I also did some saving to DV-AVI... which uses the Microsoft DV codec. 

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Adobe's Premiere Elements came through this first review with flying colors. Even if you're not ready to move on from Movie Maker, it makes a great addition to your software toolkit.
I think the content of this newsletter would make a good website page...
This is my first look at Premiere since the days of version 6... in Elements I didn't see things like levels adjustments and motion settings... Elements is a stripped down version of Premiere Pro, so those kinds of features would need another move upwards. But it has more than enough features to be of great use.

Have a great week...