Premiere Elements



Feature: Adobe Premiere Elements being used to create a Photo Slideshow Presentation
Motivation: Test how versatile Premiere Elements is in multimedia slideshows

Adobe Premiere Pro is one of the better video development tools - and is a key part of the Adobe Video Collection which supports professional design and creation of video and movies. The question arises can Adobe deliver the right blend of features and functions to make the junior version of Premiere, Premiere Elements, a meaningful and easy to use tools for a diverse range of multimedia tasks ? It is worthwhile noting that after 3 tries, Adobe got the junior version of its market leading paint program, Photoshop ( Photoshop Elements is the junior version) pretty close to right on. So this review of Premiere Elements creating photo slideshows, will give us a reading on how well Adobe hit the downsizing sweet spot on the video side.

Welcome and Workspace

The Welcome screen on start up offers users a chance to take the Premier Elements tutorials which I highly recommend, especially for users new to video or multimedia. The tutorials are quite good and give users an intro on how Premier Elements is intended to work. Also the tutorials are helpful because Premiere Elements has quite a number of dialogs and windows that can become confusing until put into a working context.

Second piece of advice, before clicking on New project - always make sure you have created a new directory recently filled with the copies of the images, video and audio clips that you are going to use in your multimedia presentation. This will be working storage area for the projects. It is also the answer to the first question asked after you click on New Project, the name and directory location where Premiere Elements project file can be stored. This project file acts as the store of all the design information for your presentation

Loading and Preparing the Photo Slides

Loading media into Premiere Elements is as simple as pressing on +Add Media button (also CTRL+I). If you have loaded all the required images and audio clips into your project folder, all you have to do is browse to that directory/folder, hit CTRL+A and then click on the Open Button. The images are stored in the Media Window in icon or list format(more on this just shortly). At the bottom left of the Media Windows is a strip of small command icons. The third button looks like a stack of slide. Click it and the Create Slideshow wizard pops up and with a few setting for duration of each slide and adding a transition and its duration between slides you can have all the slides laid out in your timeline in a mater of a few seconds. In fact the old 0 to 60 applies in reverse here - one can create the basic slideshow in Premiere Elements in less than 60 seconds.

But of course you will want to place the slides in a specific order, add one or two slides several times - usually a background or gray slide but possibly others. Premiere Elements makes it simple to drag and drop individual slides from the Media Window onto the Timeline in a specific. Alternatively use the Timeline selector bar or cursor (it has the distinct blue triangle top)to pinpoint where you want you slide to go, right click, choose overlay and the current slide/clip is replaced with the new slide/clip. Or choose insert and the slide is inserted between the end of the nearest slide and beginning of the next. The next and all following slide are pushed down in the timeline without any changes to their durations. Convenient.

But not quite as convenient as it might be. If you have any transition effects between slides that is wiped out by either an overlay or insert. Likewise any audio track will be split when an image slide is inserted into the timeline. So as always , the recommended workflow is to add image slides and video clips first including any trimming and change in order. Then add any transitions between slides/clips. Then add audio clips and titling/captioning slides last.

There are a couple of extra cautions with Premiere Elements. First, there is no storyboard view in the Timeline as in Ulead and Camtasia. Second, the video effects do not apply to slides/still images as they do in Ulead and Camtasia. But Premiere Elements makes up for these shortcomings with the loading conveniences just seen plus a number of features in the Media Window.

In the Media Window users can display clips/images in detail format shown at left or the icon format in the screenshot shown below of the loaded images. Note one of the advantages of the detail format is that it shows the number of uses of a clip, the duration (but curiously not for the still images). By clicking the first two icons in the lower left users toggle between these two views. The binocular icon pops open a search window to fin a clip by name (but not date or usage or duration). The Folder icon creates a folder which media can be stored in, useful when grouping lots of audio,video, and image clips. The garbage can icon deletes the highlighted clip from the media window (but not on disk). But perhaps the nicest feature is the ability to right click on any clip in the Media Window and choose the Edit Original command from the pop up menu. This starts the program associated with that type of file. As soon as the clip/image is saved in the edit program, Premiere Elements updates not only the Media Window but also all uses of the clip/image in the Timeline. Very handy.

Adding transition effects is also fairly simple. Click Effects button (or Window | Effects menu command) and the Effects Window pops up. Choose the video Transitions folder and double click on it (or the small triangular collapse/expand icon just to the left of the folder). There are dozens of transition effects to choose from. Again, just drag and drop the transition between two clips/images and Premiere Elements overlays the effect on the two clips. Users can shorten or the effects by dragging on the start or end of the transition marker in the timeline. Again very easy to do. The screenshot below shows the Timeline after loading and adding transitions to the still images.

The next phase is also simple to do. Adding audio to the presentation once all the slides are set and edited is easy. Just make Audio track 1 visible in the Timeline by dragging the edge of the Window or using the Timeline's More button to Add a Track. Then find the audio clip(s) in the media Window - and as before just drag and drop them to the right spot on the Timeline. Need to shorten an audio track - just grab the head or tail edge of the audio clip in the Timeline and drag it over to make the audio clip match the edge of the video clip (or whatever - they do NOT need to match up). You can add at least two dozen audio transitions including fade in and fade out, etc. In sum adding and editing audio is fairly straight forward in Premiere Elements.

Adding titling and captions is just as easy but we will cover that in detail in the article on editing video screenshows. Likewise markers can be added for production of CD and DVD ready disks; but that is also a topic for another review. Our basic photo slideshow (and I put quotes around "basic" because the speed preparing and effects on display in this slide show are really professional in quality) - is ready for production.

Unfortunately, in tryout version of Premiere Elements many of the production features and controls are unavailable. Also the program has an orientation towards producing DVDs. DVD is on the Workflow button not the general Produce Wizard available in Camtasia. Whatever the reason, the .avi file was over 150MBytes for just 13 slides. The time to render was just under 5 minutes on a Celeron 2.8Ghz with 512MB of memory.

In sum users can see (with the notable exception of the final production of the slideshow) that Adobe Premiere Elements is more than equal to the task of delivering a great photo slideshow. We really liked the ease of mounting and editing both images and audio. We believe the Media Window with some of its advanced display, search and convenient original edit feature makes this program a natural for large slideshows of hundreds of images and a dozen or more audio clips. It is just a question of final production - which as soon as we can get it for you we will.

(C)JBSurveyer 2005  Home  Adobe Overview