Straight out of the camcorder, my videos are pretty boring–just clips of my kid staring at the dangling lens cap and drooling. But with the help of Adobe’s new Premiere Elements 2 video editing software, I can prevail upon even the most jaded houseguests to watch my latest home movies.
Virtually all mini-DV camcorders employ FireWire to transfer video to a computer, but Premiere Elements 2 can also import video from certain compatible units over a USB 2.0 connection. Transfers using a Canon Optura 60 camcorder worked perfectly through either connection.
DVD camcorders write your video to discs as MPEG files, which most video editing applications can’t handle. But Premiere Elements 2 has a new built-in MPEG encoder/decoder. Though the application took a few minutes to get a 5-minute MPEG clip ready for editing, that’s a small price to pay for the capability.
The addition of MPEG handling raises the system requirements for running Elements 2, however. Adobe specifies 256MB of RAM as the minimum, though it acknowledges that the comfort margin at that amount of memory is now far smaller. Running a shipping copy of the software on a 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 system with 1GB of RAM, I frequently saw memory usage of 500MB, at which point some of the operations slowed a tad. The application never crashed, though, as I’ve seen happen with other video editing packages.
Although it seems like a small thing, Elements 2’s new self-adjusting workspace is really nice. When you resize a window–say you enlarge the monitor window to get a better view of a clip–all of the other windows and palettes on screen shrink or expand at the same time. I wish that Adobe’s other assorted applications could do that.
Other interface improvements really add up. You can fade in or fade out a video or audio track by clicking a button in the new Properties window. Previously you had to add a transition or manually adjust the timeline. To delete part of a clip in Elements 2, you simply navigate to a spot in the timeline, click the new Split Clip button (which is located at the top of the timeline), click on the excess footage, and then press the Delete key on your keyboard.
The program comes with 71 DVD menu templates, and now you can add motion to buttons. You can also modify menu backgrounds by dragging in your own images–or even videos. The nice thing is, the application maintains the button assignments and text styles (and it even allows you to adjust them later).
Premiere Elements 2 is an elegant, powerful video editor that will make you look like you know what you’re doing. Want proof? Next time you’re at my house, I’ll show you one of my home DVDs.
Adobe Systems Premiere Elements 2
An affordable, easy-to-use video editor with features you won’t find anywhere else.
Price when reviewed: $100
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