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Adobe Premiere Elements 9 review

Ben Pitt
20 Nov 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
59
inc VAT

The improved preview performance is welcome, as are the new effects, but Premiere Elements still lacks polish and feels unwieldy

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Lots of people shoot videos but few of them own editing software. Adobe has spent a lot of time and effort trying to change that, gearing Premiere Elements towards casual users who want instant gratification. However, this left more experienced – and willing – videographers out in the cold. Admittedly, some extremely sophisticated editing tools remain , but by version 8 they were buried in a sprawling, bloated interface. Worst of all, footage in the popular AVCHD format was handled poorly, with garbled previews and dropped frames when attempting to preview transitions.

Premiere cartoon

We’re relieved to see the arrival of a new video playback engine in version 9. It’s not the same engine that transformed the performance of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 - but, as that’s 64-bit only it wouldn't be suitable for a consumer product like Elements.

The new engine does bring numerous benefits, though, including an end to garbled AVCHD previews. We were able to play two simultaneous AVCHD streams on our Core i7 test PC before dropped frames set in. However, our current favourite editor, Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10 can manage twice that many.

Canon EOS 550D clips (in QuickTime AVC 1080p format) played smoothly whereas they brought version 8 to a standstill. However, playing two simultaneous clips – such as during transitions – was still too much for it. The background rendering feature introduced in version 8 would have helped, as it automatically generated MPEG-2 copies of AVC clips, making them easier to handle. Sadly, though, background rendering has quietly disappeared in version 9. There was room for improvement in its implementation, but abandoning it entirely is regrettable. Even with a fast PC, Premiere Elements struggles with demanding formats.

24fps footage is now fully supported, which is good news considering its increasing popularity among digital cameras. Other problems persist, though. When rendering an interlaced AVCHD clip to 720p progressive scan MPEG-2 file, the software didn’t bother to de-interlace the footage, resulting in ugly sawtooth-like jagged lines. We found a laborious workaround, but it’s particularly worrying because we first noticed this problem in version 8 and it still hasn’t been resolved.

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