iMovie today is more powerful, more precise, but still aimed solely at neophyte movie producers who need quick and easy editing and not much more. If your movie editing needs go beyond iMovie but don’t reach as high as the expensive and complex Final Cut Pro, there’s a land in between.
A video editor that does more than iMovie, yet brings back the familiar polish and interface that made the old iMovie a memorable classic.
What Hath Adobe Wrought?
From Photoshop Creative Suite to Acrobat, most of us at Mac360 use more than our share of Adobe products, and we do so begrudgingly.
Adobe’s apps are often expensive and complicated and come with a nearly annual upgrade tax.
One of our favorites is Adobe Photoshop Elements. Think Photoshop Lite; a veritable bargain for average Mac users to improve their photos.
For iMovie users who need more, Adobe responded with a new Mac version of Premiere Elements 10. It’s a polished, feature-laden Mac video editing app that resembles the iMovie we knew and loved years ago.
Where iMovie leaves off, Premiere picks up with features Apple doesn’t think we need. To start, think of what multiple video layers can do for your movie editing and productions.
First, off, Premiere’s Organizer is where you start by importing and tagging your video clips (it even does photos). Clips or finished movies can uploaded to YouTube or Facebook.
Premiere makes it easy to make movies of photos with a strong set of pan and zoom tools with multiple focus points, including pauses. Like iMovie, there’s a built-in Auto Movie option (arrange clips in order, select a theme, and click to make a fully complete movie).
The Auto-Analyzer makes it easy to tag clips so you can find them later. Use Sceneline or Timeline to find individual scenes within clips in the Organizer.
Adobe adds multiple video track capability for more complex productions (up to 99 video and audio tracks). There’s a three-way color corrector which allows changes to highlights, shadows, and midtones. It’s not as easy to use as correcting color in iMovie but it provides more control (I prefer using the Vibrance and AutoTone effects, though; the tools require some trial and error effort.
Going beyond iMovie, Premiere offers hundreds of built-in effects and transitions, and gives you more control over audio. It handles HD or SD video formatting, drop in title creation, including animation.
Being an Adobe app, it’s loaded with video clip export options (including AVCHD, burn to DVD and many more). Premiere caters to the Mac videophile who’s tired of the simplicity of iMovie but can’t handle the expense and complexity of Final Cut Pro.
For me, a few dozen video productions, each with dozens of clips, makes iMovie slow to a crawl. Premiere feels more robust, even with a large number of imported clips. It didn’t crash, but it doesn’t have the same smoothness generating effects and transitions as Apple’s more expensive Final Cut. I love using the SmartFix option that improves unstable video clips and enhances color in clips that are too dark.
Graphic elements can be dropped in on video clips (thought bubbles) and can move with the subjects in the scene. These are functions that go beyond iMovie, but are easy to implement.
In the end, Premiere Elements 10 does more than iMovie but does it differently, too. In some cases, not as efficiently or as easily. iMovie’s organizer is built-in (with a resulting performance hit, too). Premiere’s Organizer is stand alone, but requires a double-click to preview a clip in a floating window. Trimming clips requires an extra step, but the Smart Trim function can automatically cut bad video clips or recommend specific cuts, which saves time.
And, more importantly, if all you’ve ever used is the new iMovie, Premiere Elements will feel like a living in a new universe (though more familiar to Mac users who pine for the old iMovie) with deeply embedded menus and options.
Compared to the features not found in iMovie, Premiere Elements 10 is a worthy app. Make sure to try the 30-day trial version first. You might find all you need without forking over a wad of money for Final Cut Pro.