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Easier Photo & Video Editing with Adobe Elements Software

Sections: Point and Shoot

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Video Editing Software Review

Photo hobbyists have lusted after Photoshop image editing software for many moons but, intimidated by price and complicated interfaces, not many have pulled the trigger. Adobe’s latest consumer package combines Photoshop Elements 6, the latest “light” version of Photoshop, with Premiere Elements 4 – a video editor perfect for hobby-level videographers. This latest boxed set retails at $119 to $150, depending upon whether you upgrade or start new. That’s a 25% savings over the separate programs. This time, I think, Adobe has gotten it right for the non-pro user.

Adobe claims you can start making movies in fifteen minutes with Premiere Elements 4. They’re exaggerating — I’ve used Photoshop, various versions, for years and it took me about half an hour noodling around to complete a small project in Adobe Premiere Elements 4. The Premiere Elements video editing software was certainly tougher, but keep in mind, I’ve never messed with video before.

My biggest criticism, one I’ve had for ages, is Adobe’s documentation assumes user knowledge that may not be there. Their writers skip small steps so you perform an action repeatedly until you figure it out. Nevertheless, a beginning user, with some imaging familiarity, can feel productive within an hour. Experienced folks will catch on quicker. Once I got it I produced cool images and enhancements in minutes.

Adobe Elements 6 Features
• Guided Edit Mode – Analyzed photo and walked me through steps to brighten, saturate, and correct contrast.
• Complete Edit and Quick Edit allowed me to choose how much work I wanted to do.
• Easy-to-use editing tools and template/clipart catalogs.
• Excellent organizational tools – I put 1500 photos into albums, by subject matter, in about ten minutes.
• Quick selection tool – select one item from an image very easily, as long as it differs substantially in tone and color from background. Way easier than professional selection masks.
• Photomerge allowed me to create panoramas, replace people in group photos and even switch facial features between people for comic relief.
• Hundreds of borders, frames, backgrounds, themes and effects to create scrapbook pages, photobooks, email presentations and Web images.
• Direct online purchase ordering of prints, photobooks, photo calenders and other items you create. I found I could print most myself, too.

Adobe Premiere Elements 4 Features
• Shares the organizer feature with Elements. Can’t beat this for organizational freaks like me.
• Canned themes, titles, credits, transitions – some very generic, but some specific enough to seem personal.
• Import video at a click from files, Internet, camera or CD/DVD.
• Drag and drop functionality – even I could add or remove frames like a pro.
• Nice look and feel – large, clear view of video, nice thumbnails, two timelines to pinpoint the place for editing.
• Mix audio, add soundtrack and voiceovers.
• HD – Blu-Ray capable, quick burning, show on Apple iPods, Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable), and mobile phones with export presets for many popular models.

What I Liked
Both programs are very intuitive. I needed little skill to fix red eyes, correct a color problem, or move someone out of one image and into another. Very enjoyable – I felt artistic. Having a video editor that allowed me to combine 10 clips and a bunch of effects to end up with a credible project was excellent. I love that there’s much more to do as I delve into both programs and that I can use as much skill as I want. Both programs sharing functions is convenient – I made a slideshow and then added video transitions and effects to it. Cool.

What I Didn’t Like
Slow. I have a fairly fast machine and both Adobe Elements 6 and Adobe Elements Premiere 4 made me impatient. Adobe makes large programs and you’ll want some oomph in your computer to make them run well. The tasks that bring you an image, make changes, and then take them back to where the image resides take time. It isn’t a total drag, but I so love instant gratification. I wasn’t crazy about the very dark background on the screen. Making photos brighter is good, but reading tool tips and button labels can be challenging.

Conclusion
My goal is to get my photos off the computer and into circulation. These puppies will help me reach that target. I found them comfortable to explore, even if the documentation bogged me down in spots. I figure I’ll buy a how-to book which I usually do to fully learn a new Adobe program.

Overall though, I’m having a great time working with these two new programs. Correcting faults in my pictures, manipulating images for fun, and creating unusual ways to share them tickles me. There’s a free trial at Adobe.com. (The software is currently PC-only but Mac versions are on their way.) If you’re looking for a new hobby, or want to enhance the photo-hobby you already enjoy, give Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and Premiere Elements 4 a try – you’ll probably get hooked.

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