Adobe’s bundle deals are clearly doing well for the company, and they also offer pretty good value for the consumer too. This is certainly true of the Elements bundle, which now enters its second incarnation. This consists of Premiere Elements 3 and Photoshop Elements 5. Buying the two together saves you £50, and brings a few extra abilities, such as creating DVD slideshows in Photoshop Elements that you can edit and add alongside other video in Premiere Elements. But what exactly do each of the new versions bring to the table on their own?
Adobe is still making its mind up as to what a good interface for the consumer video editing market consists of. Premiere Elements 2 looked significantly different to the first incarnation, and version 3 is yet another radical departure. The similarities with the Premiere Pro parent product are getting more and more distant.
The new interface retains the docked windows of the Premiere Elements 2, but the arrangement has been changed considerably, with a much greater focus on tasks. Premiere Elements 1 also took a task-based approach, but this imposed annoying restrictions on the more seasoned editor – such as the separation between Effects mode and Advanced Effects mode. In contrast, Premiere Elements 2 put everything onscreen all the time, which was handy for experts but too busy for beginners
With Elements 3, Adobe has taken one step back to go two steps forward. Four icons down the left of the interface switch between the project’s media library, footage acquisition, effects, and titling. But this only changes the contents of the associated window, not the rest of the interface, which keeps things simple. Another new feature for the beginner is the Sceneline view, which is now the default. Again, this storyboard approach, where clips and transitions are represented by single icons, is simpler for those unfamiliar with desktop video editing.
The interface has been further simplified for the newcomer, and now includes a Sceneline mode were each clip is represented by a single storyboard icon.
There are also tabs along the top, which offer the same functions as before but have been grouped together. Overall, the new look addresses the biggest problem with the previous version of Premiere Elements – that it was hard for absolute beginners to get to grips with compared to the Ulead or Pinnacle alternatives. However, we did find that when you want windows to float above the rest of the interface, such as the capture applet, it’s too easy to accidentally dock them alongside other windows, and hard to pull them out again afterwards.
Nevertheless, version 3 is a big improvement for novices. But what about new features for existing users? The most obvious addition is HDV support, which may not have been a major omission for the majority in the past, but it did give the competition a lead. Now you can capture from HDV camcorders, although we found the automatic scene detection didn’t work with our Sony HVR-A1E. The Media Downloader has also been redesigned, and now has a simplified Standard Dialog as well as the Advanced Dialog, which corresponds to the original version. There’s an Internet option as well, but this doesn’t take you to a Web-based clip library as you might expect, but instead presents you with a gallery of editing ideas in Flash video format on Adobe’s website.