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Like Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements stands out by providing powerful video-editing tools and wrapping them up into an easy-to-use interface that caters for both beginners and more experienced users.
This year’s 2023 update isn’t a major upgrade, but at £86.56 it’s still a good option for people who shoot a lot of videos for sharing on social media, or who need to do some precise editing work for vlogging, podcasts, or business presentations. You can also buy Premiere Elements in a bundle with Photoshop Elements for $149.99/£130.36 from Adobe US / Adobe UK. (Read our review of Photoshop Elements.)
Video-editing can be a complex task, so Premiere Elements provides three different editing modes for people with different levels of experience. The ‘Quick’ mode helps beginners to get started by allowing you to quickly import multiple videos and automatically arranging them into a simple ‘timeline’ that runs along the bottom of the screen. The ‘Expert’ mode, as the name suggests, provides more detailed editing tools, with the timeline providing multiple audio and video tracks that allow you to perform more complex editing work. And, like Photoshop Elements, it also has a ‘Guided Edit’ mode that provides step-by-step help for common tasks, such as adding titles to your videos, or creating time-lapse effects.
Many of the Guided Edits available in Premiere Elements are similar to those found in Photoshop Elements, such as the Animated Overlays feature that allows you to add ‘overlay’ effects, such as falling snow or leaves, or confetti for a wedding video. This is a useful option for many video projects, but even in Guided mode some of these editing tools can be a little daunting. The instructions in the Guided Edit mode show you how to select animated effects and add them to your video timeline, but there’s still a confusing array of additional options to deal with, such as ‘Blend’ modes that determine how the overlay effect is applied to your video clips. A little more clarity – and maybe even a proper PDF manual – would be useful here.
There are other features that are very much designed for social media, although this is where things get a bit complicated again. Premiere Elements allows you to alter the aspect ratio – the height and width – of video files, so that you can create upright (portrait) videos for Instagram, or larger wide-format videos for FaceBook. This works in conjunction with the ‘auto-reframe’ option, which automatically edits the video to keep the subject clearly in the centre of the frame as you as adjust the aspect ratio. Unfortunately, we struggled to even find these features at first, and then found ourselves confused by some of the complex settings involved in applying these effects.
The new version of Premiere Elements for 2023 – which was actually released in September 2022 – is a relatively modest update, so existing owners may not consider it an essential upgrade. However, it does have one new feature that will particularly appeal to owners of newer Macs with M1 or M2 processors. Like Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements now supports Apple Silicon, and Adobe claims that it will now run almost 70% faster on Macs with M1/M2 chips. Video-editing is demanding work, so anything that boosts performance is obviously very welcome – especially as there aren’t many other important features in this update.
The main improvement is the addition of 24 new artistic effects, similar to those that were introduced to Photoshop Elements last year. Some of these mimic specific artistic styles, such as cubism or expressionism, while others simply provide colour or lighting effects to enhance the look of your video clips. These effects are easy to use, as you can simply drag and drop them onto your video clips, but the results are a bit hit-and-miss so you might need to experiment for a while to find some effects you like.
The app also includes a number of new templates for creating slideshows, and around 100 new audio clips that you can use to add music or sound effects to your project. And, as with Photoshop Elements, you will soon be able to use Premiere Elements with the forthcoming Elements mobile and web apps. Soon to be available as a public beta, these new apps provide 2GB of online storage, so you can use the mobile app to upload photos and video clips that you can then download and edit in the full version of Premiere Elements on your Mac.
So while Premiere Elements only gets a modest update this time around, its support for Apple Silicon will still make it a good upgrade for owners of Macs with M1 or M2 processors. And, if you’re new to Premiere Elements there’s also a 30-day free trial available so that you can check it out before buying.
Premiere Elements might be a case of overkill if all you want to do is to quickly trim some short video clips before uploading them to social media. But, if you need more powerful editing tools for combing multiple video, audio and graphics files, then it’s still one of the most powerful video-editors in the sub-£100 category.