Adobe took simply ages to take notice of the entry-level video-editing market. Despite having one of the original PC editing apps in Premiere, it was a decade before the technology was packaged in a form suitable for beginners, in 2004. Now in its second incarnation, Premiere Elements is at last stepping out from the shadow of its chequered professional heritage.
The most obvious difference from Premiere Elements 1.0 is the interface. Instead of floating palettes, all the windows are stitched together, although you can still remove and resize those you don't use.
Adobe has also realised that the editing process was too broken up between different workspaces and has combined Edit with the standard and Advanced Effects modes. This new Edit facility now incorporates a Properties pane, which is roughly equivalent to Effect Controls in the previous version.
However, it has a couple more abilities. As well as offering immediate access to Motion and Opacity settings, it also includes Image Control and Volume sections. The former supplies direct access to Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation settings for the clip, without the need to apply a filter. The Volume and Opacity sections have buttons for applying quick fade in and out effects and the Motion section has a quick rotate function for use with portrait-mode footage such as that shot with a cameraphone.
Video effects and transitions are also always available in Edit mode. It's easier to find them, too, as they're now represented by picons, which give you an idea of what they actually do. Although the overall effect of putting all the palettes onscreen at once is a busier interface, when you've learnt your way around it's much easier to use, as switching between all the modes in the original version soon became tiresome for the experienced user.
Video format support has been brought bang up to date as well - with one exception. The capture applet can acquire DV (digital video) from FireWire- and USB 2.0-attached camcorders and this can now be accessed either as a pop-up window or fully integrated with the rest of the interface. Capture has also been augmented by the Media Downloader, which allows you to bring in footage from optical disc and JVC's hard disk-based camcorders, which is saved to a temporary location. File format support now includes 3GPP and 3GPP2, Mpeg1, 2 and 4. VOB files and the MOD files used by JVC's Everio camcorders can also be edited natively. However, the one file type still missing is HDV (high-definition video). With Pinnacle supporting it in Studio 10.0, this is a big omission.
Video to burn
One of the least well-endowed features of the first version of Premiere Elements was the built-in DVD authoring. This was entirely template-driven, with the user given the ability only to edit text and supply their own chapter points. With Elements 2.0, your options are much more diverse. You still start off with a basic template, but you can move text and button elements around at will and resize them. You can also drag still images onto backgrounds to change them and even videos to create motion backgrounds. Motion buttons are supported too. The end result is a lot more creative flexibility without adding too much complication, making the balance about right for most home-video editors.