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Last year’s Premiere Elements 10 was already a formidable opponent to Apple’s cheaper iMovie, and Adobe wisely hasn’t messed too much with that winning formula for Premiere Elements 11. Unlike the newly revamped Photoshop Elements 11, most of the changes here are modest but welcome improvements for veterans and new users alike.
Despite the double-digit version number, this is actually only the third edition of Premiere Elements for the Mac. While last year’s release relied heavily on new features, for this year, Adobe streamlined the existing tools, adding a few smaller tricks in the process.
As the central hub for both Elements applications, Elements Organizer gets a lot of love with version 11. Organizer can now sort and manage videos and photos with a trio of new view modes already familiar to iPhoto users: People, Places and Events. People takes the basic idea of iPhoto’s Faces but does it more reliably, while Places taps into Google Maps to show exactly where your videos or images were taken. While Events are generally better for organizing photos, they can also be used to group videos from the same gathering in one handy place.
Like Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements 11 features a brighter, easier-to-use interface with larger, more user-friendly icons. It’s a departure from the Premiere Pro-style dark UI found in version 10, but users will find themselves squinting less to read onscreen type.
Sticking to the basics, InstantMovie continues to make it easy for users to throw videos (and photos) onto a timeline, select a theme and spit out a finished video complete with music and titles, ready to share. While we found version 11 performed more admirably than version 10, it’s not perfect—finicky users will still want to do final adjustments on their own.
Premiere Elements 11 also bulks up on new effects and themes, and its sliders provide greater control over video footage. The sliders come in particularly handy while making color adjustments, but they stay tucked away from novice users who might be intimidated by such options.
Adobe also attempts to bring Hollywood to your Mac, adding a trio of new “FilmLooks,” simulating Old Film, Red Noir, and Pandora, which makes footage look like it came right off the set of Avatar. New blend modes and easy time-remapping tools also make it a snap to spice up videos with multiple layers and slow down or speed up the action.
Last but not least, Vimeo users no longer need to feel like sceond-class citizens: Videos and slideshows can now be shared directly to the service from either Organizer or Premiere Elements, no export required. Adobe doesn’t take advantage of OS X Mountain Lion’s new Sharing abilities, but its own built-in options are equally easy to use.
The bottom line. Adobe Premiere Elements 11 isn’t nearly as significant an upgrade we saw last year, but it’s definitely worthwhile for users who buy it bundled with Photoshop Elements. Adobe has done a good job of tightening up some of the last version’s shortcomings, and it’s still far better for novice users than iMovie.
Adobe Premiere Elements 11.0
64-bit multicore Intel processor, OS X 10.6 or later, 1024x768 display resolution, QuickTime 7 or higher, 2GB RAM, 4GB hard disk space
Greater control over color and effects. New blend and time remapping tools are well implemented. Adds quick and easy sharing to Vimeo.
Modest improvements make it less appealing to non-bundle buyers. No improvements to the included SmartSound tool. No support for Retina Display.