Thursday, January 20

Adobe Premiere Elements 2019 review: still the best video editor

Premiere Elements, Adobe’s consumer video editing application, has been a favorite of ours for several years. It’s creative, friendly, easy-to-use, and cross-platform, allowing beginners to edit in style and quickly share smartphone videos with family and friends.

This year’s update, Premiere Elements 2019, has all the stellar attributes of previous versions, but with a couple of major AI updates.

Adobe’s consumer video and photo applications have remained the same price for many years. Premiere Elements is only $ 99.99, with an upgrade price of $ 79.99 (£ 86.56; £ 70.91). If you buy the video editor and Photoshop Elements as a bundle, the purchase will cost you $ 149.99, with an upgrade price of $ 119 for both apps (£ 130.36; £ 107.41).

What’s new

For 2019, Adobe has revamped the all-important Quick Edit mode with a simplified interface. Quick Edit now directs users to the updated Smart Trim feature or the new Sceneline, a storyboard-style editing interface that you can use to organize and edit multiple clips and photos. The new version of Quick Edit is short on new Guided Edits (there are only two in this version) but they are imaginative and unique, offering new opportunities to improve ordinary footage.

There are no obvious new features for the Organizer.

Premiere Elements now supports VFR (Variable Frame Rate) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) footage, also known as H.265, a high compression video codec. The space-saving HEIF and HEVC formats debuted alongside iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. While the app supports H.265 on Mac, support for Windows has yet to arrive. Adobe does not yet consider 360-degree VR video or multi-camera editing to be consumer features, and reserves support for those features to the company’s professional-grade Creative Cloud Premiere Pro CC.

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For the first time in recent memory, no functionality has been added to the Elements Organizer companion app, which already does much of the heavy lifting for searching, producing slideshows, and creating collages. Any functionality enhancements incorporated into the Organizer reside under the hood. And, for the first time, using Premiere Elements generates two base icon instances: one for the start screen and the other for the program workspace.

Automatic creations

When you launch Premiere Elements, the star of the new home screen is the automatic creations: complete collages and slide shows generated automatically through Adobe Sensei, the company’s artificial intelligence engine. If you have imported photos and videos to the Organizer, the application will generate several polished creations.

Premiere Elements 2019 debuts a new home screen with automatic collages and slide shows.

Sensei scans your content and assembles numerous videos, photos and still images extracted from the video to create slide shows and collages that you can use as is or modify by exchanging content and backgrounds. Busy users will appreciate how presentable these montages look for quickly preparing social media posts.

It’s easy to modify and replace templates for automatic slideshows and collages.

Smart cropping

Adobe’s revamped Quick Edit mode now channels edits into two main channels, Smart Trim and Sceneline, each accessible with a separate button. These allow you to trim a single clip or combine photos and videos to create a longer, more complex movie.

A completely revamped quick edit mode offers two different channels for trimming videos.

Smart Trim uses Sensei technology to automatically scan and trim the fat from your videos so you can focus on only the most dynamic and attractive parts. You can manually edit clips any way you like, as you may not always agree with what the Premiere Elements algorithm identifies as interesting, but it is the beginning of an inherently tedious task.

With Smart Trim, you can trim your video manually or use the presets plus additional adjustments.

At first I found Smart Trim a bit counterintuitive, because the auto-trim feature always automatically selects the first few seconds of a movie. Activating and moving the Preset slider in the Smart Trim tool allows the program to select and reject various parts of your movie based on the action or the people present. Adobe says that the markup for the first few seconds of all videos is designed to familiarize novice editors with how to use the feature. You can always cut the movie manually or use the preset as a starting point for additional manual edits, but if you choose the preset after you’ve manually carved your cuts, the tool will erase that original work.

Some videos don’t work well with Smart Trim presets, but you can still trim your video manually.

Sensei does not work well with all images. Certain videos, like one of my duck pond foray, are apparently so boring that the app refused to judge the action at all. Adobe has confirmed that extremely short videos or those that lack faces or medium to high level activity or action can produce error messages. To edit my ducklings, I was alone.

The Sceneline interface consolidates all the tools you need to trim each video and adds titles, transitions, pan and zoom, and music.

The new Sceneline interface brings all the necessary tools together on the timeline in one elegant workflow. With it, you can assemble multiple clips and photos to create a longer and more complex movie. This is basically a storyboard layout, a classic video editing view that shows you each clip and image as a separate entity on the timeline. The storyboard works well as an organizing tool, providing a macro view of how the movie is organized before getting too deep into editing.

The Sceneline interface consolidates all the tools you need to trim each video and adds titles, transitions, pan and zoom, and music.

Guided editions

Most versions of Premiere Elements introduce several new Guided Edits. These easy step-by-step instructional recipes are videographer programs that teach you how to achieve special effects that most beginners have no idea how to achieve. This year Premiere Elements has only two new guides, but they are distinctive and artistic if used correctly. Not all videos will benefit from the guides, but the ones that look outstanding.

The transition image fades in several seconds.

Luma Fade Transition: First of all, Luma Fade is a transition that connects two different clips. While Premiere Elements has a variety of transitions built in, this effect is unique and dramatic as it fades from darkest to lightest colors in a still image derived from your video. Luma Fade is an inspiring and easy-to-use effect, but it works well only with certain types of videos. For example, it works for videos where the second clip in the sequence features a close-up of a clearly defined face or object rather than a busy scene.

The transition image fades in several seconds.

This year Premiere Elements has only two new guides, but they are distinctive and artistic if used correctly.

The transition is ideally derived from a still image from the movie you’re editing, but I’ve often found myself experimenting with different still shots of the same shot to try and make the transition look more distinctive. When the transition is finished, you can reposition it slightly on the timeline for maximum effect. When this effect works, it is really nice. When it isn’t, your transition won’t look like anything special.

The Glass Panel effect is very good and you can layer different effects as you move through your video.

Glass panel effect: This effect makes your scene look like the action is seen through glass. Glass Pane is easy to use and makes your footage look more dynamic by moving a special effect throughout your video. There are four built-in glass effects and you can layer as many as you like. This effect is an acquired taste, but it is something you don’t see every day.

The Glass Panel effect is very good and you can layer different effects as you move through your video.


I tested Premiere Elements 2019 on a HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 running Windows 10 Pro. This machine’s 64-bit Intel Core i7 processor with a 7600U CPU runs at 2.80 GHz on an Intel HD Graphics 620 system with 16 GB of RAM. I combined five clips into a 2.5 minute video at 60 frames per second and rendered the projects in MPEG 4 at 720p, timing the rendering at 60 fps and 30 fps.

Render speeds are nothing to write home about in Premiere Elements 2019.

Render speeds are nothing to write home about in Premiere Elements 2019. The app’s universal fast export proved to be the fastest option for rendering: 2:46 at 30 fps. The 720 HD Computer setting, rendered at 60fps, took 4:37 to get the job done.

Bottom line

Adobe is always wise about what and how much to add to its consumer video app – be careful not to break Elements while sticking to a fairly aggressive update schedule with a new version coming out every year. Adobe Premiere Elements 2019 augments some existing features, revamps a critical workflow, and completes it by adding some intriguing Guided Edits to the mix.

As in previous years, if you are satisfied with your Items from the previous year or two and are not pining for new features specific to this update, it will be fine if you stick with the version you already have. Family memoir authors just getting started in video, as well as users of previous versions, will find a lot of creative freedom and inspiration with the new additions in Premiere Elements 2019.

Credit: Jackie Dove / Tom’s Guide

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