Note: This review addresses v8.0 of the software.
Just about everyone who has a video capture device is desperate to go "viral"--to have their video to become so wildly popular that everyone knows its title by name. Adobe's Premiere Elements 9 video editor may not help your videos get a million views in a day, but it does have a few new features that might induce Mom and Dad to watch them, anyway.
The video-focused complement to Photoshop Elements 9, the new version of Adobe's image-editing application, Premiere Elements 9 lets you easily upload finished videos to Facebook as well as YouTube. You can't send your freshly edited video directly from Premiere Elements to Facebook, however; instead, you must save it, return to the Elements organizer (a separate application), find the video, and use commands in the organizer to upload the video. It's easy to do once you're in the organizer, but I'd rather use a more consistent interface, so I wouldn't have to remember to use YouTube in the editor and Facebook in the organizer.
Similarly, though Elements 9 has a new import dialog box for handling video from Flip camcorders and from digital SLRs, you have to remember that the mechanism is in the editing application, not the organizer. You can import video into the organizer, too, or you can connect your camera and wait for Adobe's stand-alone import application to pop up. And that application imports the video into the...organizer, I think. It's tough to keep track when similar-looking applications have randomly overlapping duties.
One nifty new feature is the ability to create Web DVDs, high-quality online movies with DVD-like menus. Create the menus in the Premiere Elements 9 editor, choose a still image and a soundtrack for the opening menu, and specify chapter points or tell Elements to create them automatically. When Elements is done producing the movie, it uploads it to Photoshop.com, Adobe's online sharing site. Web DVDs have a few advantages over regular videos: The opening menu interface looks and sounds slick (if you choose a good soundtrack), and the ability to fast-forward to chapter points in the video means your viewers can fast-forward to scenes they want. And unlike a real DVD, your video can be in high definition.
Premiere Elements 9 introduces six new audio effects--Audio Polish, Auto Mute, Cleaner, Hum Remover, Noise Fader, and Noise Reducer--which are mostly automated tools to solve common issues. As with any filter, the results depend on the quality of the video, the severity of the problem, and your willingness to tweak beyond the default settings.
Adobe says that Premiere Elements 9 is optimized for high-definition editing, and I had no real problems editing HD footage, except for the wait while my PC processed the footage. Premiere Elements 9 does not take advantage of certain graphics cards to speed things up, as its big brother Premiere Pro CS5 does, and Elements 9 remains a 32-bit application, whereas Premiere Pro CS5 is now a 64-bit app that can take advantage of larger amounts of system RAM.
I like using Premiere Elements 9; it's a good value for the money, and I consider it the best of its ilk. But I sure wish Adobe would rethink how its organizer works with its editing applications. Trying to keep straight which application does what is harder than remembering where I left my keys.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.