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Software Review: Adobe Premiere Elements 4

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Adobe Premiere Elements 4 is the latest version of Adobe's consumer level video software application for non-linear video editing. It is a scaled down version of their professional level Adobe Premiere Pro. It can be purchased as a standalone product, or bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

What do you need to run Adobe Premiere Elements 4? Currently it is only available on Windows. So on Windows you need 1.3GHz, or better machine with 256 MB (512 recommended) A Mouse. A 16-bit Color display with 1024×768 resolution at 96 DPI or less. A CD-Rom, and around 4.5 GB hard disk space available.

So what is new with this version of Adobe Premiere Elements?

• Start Quickly – By using the same organizer that is included with Adobe Photoshop Elements, you will spend less time learning the interface, and more time creating your videos. By having everything available to you and in an organized manner, you will spend less time searching for the clips that you need.

• Colored Tagging – These colorful tabs relate tasks together; orange is for editing, purple is for creating menus, and green is for sharing options.

• New cleaner interface- This is the same interface that is now being applied to many Adobe products. To me it is less distracting, and makes the interface easier to use by allowing me to concentrate on what is important; in this case the clips and other assets on the screen. See image below.

• Movie Themes – By beginning with a pre-designed movie theme, you can take a sequence of scenes and create a finished product in just minutes. These themes include wedding, birthday, as well as stylized themes, such as silent film and music video. They also make getting something up and going quickly a breeze.

• Sharing Center – You now have all of your sharing options in one place. Once you create your movie, you can share it multiple ways that include on disk, on the web, on mobile devices, as well as direct upload to YouTube. Sharing to disk and web is really easy to do. I did not try the YouTube upload feature.

• Rescue Shaky Footage – Now if you have footage that has shakiness, the new Image Stabilizer filter can help restore it.

• Find Specific Parts of Action or Based on When They Were Shot – There are more ways to find what you need when you need it. Scenes are displayed as thumbnails, so you can find specific points. You can also apply the date and time applied to the naming structure which makes location easier.

• HD Support Including Blue-Ray Disks – Here you can take advantage of the latest technology and put your movies in high definition (HD) platforms such as Blue-ray disk. You can fit hours of video on to single or dual-layer DVD or Blue-ray that's optimized for best results. Since I do not have HD, I was unable to play with this.

• Title Animation – You can choose from a set of Adobe fonts that are specifically designed for video and customize them with shadows, glows, as well as other effects. You can then animate them to make them bounce, spin, or zoom across the screen.

• Audio Mixing – You can use background music and sound effects to give more expression to your movie. You can add emphasis, emotion, or create a mood. The audio mixer works just like a mixing board from a recording studio letting you adjust volumes to interact music and sound effects with the sound in your movie.

• Interactive Menus – You can personalize your disk menus by using the pre-designed templates, and then type text and drag and drop to add video clips, images, and audio.

• Edit to the Beat – Premiere Elements now can automatically detect the tempo of your music and it syncs the beginning and end of each scene with the beats.

• Enhanced Special Effects – there are 10 new effects included with Premiere Elements  including Old Film, Airbrush, and Earthquake. You can now apply effects more easily with the use of drag and drop and slider controls.

• Change Backgrounds – Premiere Elements can detect clips with Blue/Green Screens and replace the backgrounds. So you can film in a generic location and put a different background to your film.

While I have not used version 3; I have used version 2, Adobe Premiere Elements 4 is a substantial improvement. I like the darker interface to make your clips clearer and really pop out, and the background less distracting. I found that it was really easy to use, and in less than thirty minutes, I had burned a standard DVD, and was watching it on my television.

The animation and special effects worked as promised, as did the audio mixing. I think that Adobe Premiere Elements 4 is well worth the price especially if purchased in the bundle with Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. If you are looking for a quick, easy to use video editing software then Adobe Premiere Elements 4 should be on the top of your list.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Arizona Steve

    Weren’t there any bad points? Why does everyone who bought this on Amazon hate it?

  • http://photographytodaynet.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    After reviewing the negative comments on Amazon, it appears that most have to do with Vista problems. I do not use Vista because of all the problems there have been with it.

    The other area is the YouTube upload. I did not try this feature for two reasons. One I do not use YouTube and don’t have an account to test with. Second, to me, I would never base my purchasing of a product on what I consider a trivial feature. I would not base my purchase of Photoshop on its ability to upload to FlickR.

    I base my reviews on the fact of does it do the core things that it was meant to do. To me, Adobe Premiere Elements 4, does.

    While I think that if people are having problems with it running on Vista or on YouTube, then Adobe has the responsibility to fix it. Having owned products from Adobe over the course of the last ten years, I suspect that it will be resolved. But also being from the software industry, when you have 100,000 (pick a number) users with 50,000 different configurations, diagnosing a particular problem can be difficult.

    What is further telling is that of all the bad reviews, only one seems to have talked to tech support.

    My take of the product is that I had no functional problems and it did all of the things that I worked with it on, and from a user standpoint, with what I would want it to do.

    T.

  • kantquit

    I used the Premier Elements 3.0 and 4.0 on XP and have had a pretty good experience – no real performance related issues. That being said, I was a bit disappointed in the very small number of the themes and video/dvd templates included with the new version. If I had known that they only ship one or two themes of each time I would have just stayed with the 3.0 version. Nothing else, in my opinion, included in the package was worth the upgrade.

    kq

  • chris

    This product is simply AMAZING!!! I had looked long and hard and finally found it! It does everything and more! Most of all, I consider myself a young computer nerd in training, and this program was SIMPLE to use. I have had to use the “Help” 2-times and feel that I have a great understanding. Whats-more, I feel I will get better over time and obtain a mastery of this program.
    On the more technical side I am useing a PANASONIC SDR-H18 (in both widescreen 16:9[1.2] and normalscreen 4:3), and it records in a .MOD file. Work with ADOBE PREMIERE ELEMENTS 4 flawlessly!!! and the output is darn near anything you want! Check out the trial, see if it works for you, then BUY IT!! ITS WORTH IT!!!

    ***** (FIVE STARS)

  • markhio

    Quick question, I read the v3 did not support analog input. I have a ton of VHS and DV I want to copy, edit and burn to DVD. Your review didn’t address that. Have you looked at that capability. Pinnacle Studio does support it. But I read great things about Adobe Elements.

  • T. Michael Testi

    Markhio,
    You will need to convert your analog to digital before use. From my experience, you have to have a piece of equiptment that can take your analog input and translate it to digital. I have used the Dazzle products in the past, but I am sure that there are many others that will work as well.

    T.

  • http://www.muvipix.com Steve Grisetti

    Nice overview, Michael.

    I do an even more in depth analysis of the software, its features and its limitations at Muvipix.

    I’ve been with this software for four generations now. And, while it (like any high-end software on a PC) doesn’t behave on some systems, I still think it’s the best bang for the buck out there!

    It does help, of course, if you’re interfacing with a miniDV camcorder over FireWire, as the program is designed to do. It’s not terribly tolerant of video from still cameras or stuff brought in through ATI capture cards and the like.

  • Big T

    Well, what I will say, after trying Premiere Elements 4 out, is that it is a total piece of garbage. I have a MONSTER pc running windows vista. According to XP users, this product works fine. I think it should be noted that this product is barely usable in Vista, even with incredible hardware. Adobe should have made this software ready for the current operating system, and not kept it stuck in the past. Yes it should retain XP support, but they really should have developed it to at least work for more than 2 mins before crashing on a vista system. Maybe Elements 5.0 will be better :P

    P.S. By monster PC I am refering to 2.4ghz QUAD CORE processor, 3GB ram, and a GeForce 8800GTX (768MB) video card.

  • Matt B.

    To Big T – maybe it’s because Vista sucks… that’s why people downgrade back to XP – something that is stable and actually works. As for Premiere Elements 4, I loved working with this, however after hours and hours on a project when I went to burn it, it would crash. I then tried to export and get errors so I had to remove the auto color correction and render – that worked. However, still crashes when trying to burn dvd, doesn’t even get to the next menu anymore (got there twice before it crashed). I guess I have to go to ulead to burn my project and put a menu on it.

  • Damon

    I also have a top of the line Dell box. I bought Premier Elements 4 and everytime I would click burn to disk, it would just exit the software with no error code. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! I called Adobe and Dell…no help there. So I tried to figure it out on my own. I did! I uninstalled ROXIO CREATOR 9, that came bundled on my Dell…then I reinstalled Elements….and Shazam. I have had problems with Roxio in the past. I think Roxio is the buggiest software on the on the market. Well anyway that is what I tried and it worked. Big T…sounds like you have a similar machine as I have…you might want to give that a whirl!

    DD

  • J. Fisher

    Adobe Premier Elements 4.0 is one of the most unstable, crash-prone software programs I’ve ever encountered, even on the latest, most-powerful home computer systems. I’ve run the software on two computers with two operating systems, XP and Vista, and the results have been the same… disappointing. I suspect this software is only useful for the smallest of video projects. It’s virtually unusable for moderately complex projects such as a DVD to commemorate a youth sport team’s season with a mix of edited videos, pictures, music, and text. I thought Roxio’s Easy Media Creator software had a few bugs but it was a dream compared to Adobe’s Premier Elements. My first project with Premier Elements will be my last; I’m going back to Roxio.

  • http://www.daviechiropractic.com Scott Tobkes

    All it does is crash and I have a powerhouse PC running on XP…I wish I could return it.

  • Will Adams

    Seems to be a recurring theme, whether it is XP or Vista. I have a dual-XENON CPU Dell, with 4GB of RAM, fast SCSI drives, triple monitors with lots of video RAM too. And I have had 10 crashes today. Sometimes it crashes with the standard dialog, other times it just locks, and I have to close it with Task Manager.

    Seems that Adobe should respond by providing fixes to this. I agree that it is hard to support 50,000 different configurations, but the numerous comments here don’t reflect a well-built product.

    Has there been any response to this from Adobe? Patches or fixes?

  • Jason Baldwin

    I too have Vista and a top of the range PC and I’m experienceing the crash when trying to burn a DVD, steer clear for the time being is my advice, at least until a patch is available for this….

  • Dave

    I too have crash problems but haven’t had time or inclination to call support yet. Like mentioned, it gets so far through the rendering process then locks up. It causes moniitor redraw issues when it’s in that state. In fact it is locked up while I write this. I’ve seen it lock up when trying to load a Photoshop Server process. I had to kill that process before it would finish loading. Today it breezed right past that and loaded fine. Once it completely caused a spontaneous reboot of my system, when trying to load a smallish .prel file. Today that same file loaded without issue. 3 gig dual core with 2 gig of ram. Certainly not a monster machine these days but it definitely shouldn’t perform like this. Of and a fairly fresh install of XP with minimal other programs. I don’t think it is garbage software. Many cool features but it certainly is not stable on what is otherwise a well performing machine

  • Ed

    The program is cheaper on line. Is there an advantage to buying the software in a store?

  • Lance

    Can you make videos in premiere version 3 and then manually upload to youtube? I looked at the export file types and wasn’t sure if they were compatible with youtube. I don’t want to upload to version 4 just to be able to have the youtube type file output—I don’t care about the automatic upload to youtube.

  • Nancy

    I not a hardware geek, but I bought a top of the line DEll XPS with extra RAM, etc. I have yet to get Premiere 4.0 to do more preview part of a file – it then crashes. My sisters said get a Mac, but I’ve been using PC’s for more than 15 years. I am so frustrated.

  • http://www.concertpix.be Jukes

    This program is worthless. It shuts down all by itself as soon as I click ‘disk’ when trying to write a DVD. A waste of money and time!

  • K Robert

    Recenlty bought Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 with a new Dell Latitude 2.33 GHz, 2 GB Ram…
    It crashes as soon as I open it.
    Any solution has come up for the crash problems of Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 ??
    I’m desperate.

  • T. Michael Testi

    K Robert,
    I have not had this happen myself, but I would suspect that it has something to do with video drivers if it is crashing as soon as it opens.

    Have you contacted Adobe? You might see if there are updated video drivers available. Just because it is a new machine, does not mean that the drivers are the latest.

    T.

  • Jeff

    I also have problems with PE 4.0 crashing when trying to burn a DVD. I am running XP. This is totally unacceptable and Adobe deserves to be taken to task for poor QA. However, don’t bash them too hard. I evaluated Ulead VideoStudio 11 and Avid Pinnacle Studio 10 before deciding to buy PE 4.0. Adobe has the best user interface and most powerful editing features, not to mention that these other products crash also. I’m staying with Adobe and saving my project often.

  • bliffle

    I must have bought a half dozen editions of Premiere (at some price like $400) over the past 15 years, and I’ve not completed one single video rendering with it. I concluded that it was crap.

    Now, I use ubuntu and complete all the videos I want easily and troublefree. I don’t even remember the names of the products because they are simple and unobtrusive to use.

    You have to realize that the interest of Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, etc., are directly contrary to your interests. You want a simple program that does what you want with a minimum of fuss. Those software peddlers want to lure you into a trap where they will be able to dominate your behaviour for their own remuneration. Oh yeah, they give you just enough real functionality to trick you and cause you to devote your time and money to making the damn thing do SOMETHING!

    Go linux! Go open software!

    Throw off your chains!

  • Harry

    The program is unstable; the more complex the project, the worst it gets. Unquestionably, it is the worst program I have ever used. Adobe seems to be ignoring the numerous complaints. After being “out there” for many months, no path of updates have been issued. And for added fun, just try to contact Adobe for help. Simplest solution: Stay way!!

  • Jack Konecker

    Bought a Dell 420 quad-core 4GB memory with Vista SP1, hoping to be able to render my high-def video faster with Adobe Premiere Elements 4 (had a Dell XPS P4 2GB memory with XP SP3). Not much faster. Lots of crashing. I have a 40-minute project that currently rendering. It is at 20% after 4 hours. This is the 2nd attempt. First attempt gave me ‘out of memory’ error at 33%.

    I’ve been with Premiere through v1, v2, v3 and v4. Each upgrade just changes the GUI (not always for the better) with very few additional templates. Never worth a full integer number upgrade. I must admit that editing with the timeline and creating transitions is pretty easy. But if you can never completely render the project … what’s the point?

  • Bob Lawrence

    I like Adobe Premiere Elements 3 and will eventually get used to 4, but I have a strange problem. I use a Panasonic AG DVC20 and have no problems with either capturing or editing video on my Dell at home. But at work, on a new Dell (which is on a network), my device controls are either severely limited or non functional. I can capture video, but I have to use the controls on the camera to stop capture. We’ve tried a new FireWire card, a different cable, changed ports…nothing seems to cure the problem. Any thoughts?

  • Mike

    I’ve given up on Adobe products, this as well as the new version of Elements 6 is so full of bugs it is like they released an Alpha test version of both instead of a stable program. I must say unless Adobe fixes these releases free of chrge to us who have purchsed them I will not be buying any Adobe products again.

  • Lyle Pryor

    Same ole same ole, this program sucks. Started working fine then crashed on my old computer. So I upgraded still using xp…still crashes either on a playback of the edited product or when trying to burn to disk… c’mon adobe time to front up with some fixes. Youve taken our money how about some customer support.

  • junk

    CRASH CRASH CRASH is what this program does when your burn a dvd

  • http://www.balanceandfocus.com/ Robert Scanlon

    I have to agree – I also have a new-ish top line Dell running Vista Ultimate (been and XP user for years and loved it – Vista is nicer once you get past the nanny controls. Does need a grunty machine).

    I hate Adobe Premeiere Elements 4 – it crashes all the time, the interface is so UN-intuitive it’s ridiculous. Any recommendations? I’m thinking of upgrading to Sony Vegas Pro.

  • Megamaniac

    Have it and I simply love it. It’s a good product for non profesionals as I do, the editing is simple and just found out that it’s pretty intuitive while compared with other adobe products I have used before, so I’m really glad I have made a good choice for me. Never had any problem while exporting, but I haven’t tried to burn discs, the youtube tool is cool but the first time I tried it it was weirdly bugged, it didn’t connect to youtube server, but after a reformat and reinstall I found out that could use it normally.

    The only complain I have about it is that it doesn’t recognize my camcorder, so I can’t import video from it that isn’t in the flash memory.

  • Video Burner

    I have been making DVD’s for 9 years. I have a Quad processor computer running Vista. Adobe Premiere Elements 4 is the most buggy software I have ever used. Very unstable and prone to crashes. This software is garbage. Since owning it, Adobe has not come out with one patch.

    This software is very media fussy too. Will only burn to +R media. It is crap!!!!!!

  • Jocelyn

    This product is good in some ways, and very bad in others. I like how easy it is to edit videos, but that assumes that I can open the program. Most the time I try to open it the program crashes, and automatically re-starts my computer. Also, the features besides editing video length and such; such as adding titles and credits are very difficult to use.

  • travis

    i wish i hadn’t bought premiere elements. it’s pretty much useless for even minor editing on my machine. i tried out vegas movie studio on the same machine, and it hummed right along with no problem. i feel like i got ripped off.

  • Robin Houlston

    I am currently running Adobe Premiere Elements 4 and would like to share some issues I have had.
    1. When creating editing a project the object module can get corrupted if I click the cursor before it has finished the current operation. I have had a case where it got so corropted it would not even load. Running the repair option for re-installation solved the problem. It seems to run ok provided it is allowed to finish the current task.
    2. when it is creating files for burning to disk it is necessary to disable all user programs including even screen savers otherwise a “transcoding error” will result.
    3. When it gets around the pysically burning to disk it works ok with DVD-RW discs but not with DVD-R. “Uknown Error” results with the latter. Perhaps it has something to do with the write speed since DVD-R are much faster. I have found it better to write to a file using say the 4.7GB option when selecting the burn target and then burning the file created with NERO. This works ok.

    If anyone has comments or advice about this I would be interested in knowing.

  • FLETCH

    I RECIEVED ADOBE ELEMENTS4 FREE WITH MY SANYO XACTI CAM CORDER .
    I HAVE BRAND NEW PC RUNNING VISTA .
    I HAVE NEVER HAD SO MUCH TROUBLE IN MY LIFE ,IF I HAD ANY HAIR I WOULD HAVE PULLED IT ALL OUT BY NOW.
    TOTALLY UNUSABLE . ANYTHING I TRY TO DO ON IT , I GET A MESSAGE (PROGRAMME HAS STOPPED WORKING)WINDOWS NEVER FINDS A SOLUTION.LONGEST IT HAS RUN FOR IS 20 MINUTES ( NORMALLY 5 IS GOOD )
    I RE INSTALLED IT 3 TIMES AND CHECKED FOR UP DATES AND STILL RUBBISH , SO GLAD I FOUND THIS SITE . I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME DOING SOMETHING STUPID .
    CAN ANYONE RECCOMEND A GOOD ALTERNATIVE

  • M DuBois

    #11 Jay Fisher says it best!!

    I need not add anything else.

  • CarolWeb

    Now I know why Adobe Elements was free with my Dell.

    I just wasted 4 hours on a project in which all the audio and transitions disappeared after it froze up and crashed. I hate it too.

  • Rick

    I am trying to use the trial version on XP.
    The program keeps stucking. This is nothing. Virtualub has never stucked but I wanted more possibilities.

  • Mom o’Four

    Bought this software a year or two ago, couldn’t get it to work properly on my computer – just kept shutting down. I doubled my RAM… but it didn’t help. I quit using it.

    This week completely rebuilt my computer, back to OEM… reinstalled PE, installed photoshop elements, and all of the other stuff like quick time.

    Loaded one tiny video to test – and boom. It crashed again. I generally love Adobe stuff, but this one makes me re-think my allegiance. Why aren’t they acknowledging the problem and posting a fix??