Once upon a time, desktop transcoding software could cost as much as Photoshop or a non-linear editing tool such as Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut Pro.
Still, between the desktop’s robust features and free/open-source software’s more limited features, is there a middle ground?
In my recent tests with Adobe Premiere Elements 9, it appears there is.
I used Premiere Elements 9 on a 15-inch MacBook Pro, the machine I most frequently carry on trips.
I’ve had to involuntarily downgrade from a brand new, dual-processor i7 to a slower Core 2 Duo 2.53 Ghz due, in no small part, to an issue with my laptop, a carry-on bag and a forced gate check by an airline (think United Breaks Guitars, but with a rolling laptop bag).
Fortunately, Delta is being a good sport about it, and I’ll have a replacement soon, but the long and short of the problem I face in the meantime is that using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and Adobe Media Encoder CS5 is a bit of a bear on the slower Core 2 Duo. Not only is the battery life more limited on the older machine, but the processor lacks the i7’s extra-powerful threading which generates a quad-core like experience.
Enter Premiere Elements 9.
Elements, which gets an annual upgrade that often adds features that the professional Photoshop or Premiere programs had two versions prior, has been making leaps and bounds in organization.
My business partner, Paul Schmutzler, wrote about the Organizer feature in a blog post last year.
“In my opinion, the Organizer portion of Elements is what makes it stand above the competitive products available,” he wrote. “Most of the editing functions of Photoshop and Premiere can be had in software from other manufacturers. The Elements Organizer, on the other hand, has met my expectations in automating the mundane task of importing and organizing my personal photos and videos as easy and straightforward as possible. Version 8 raises the bar in ease of use making it worthy of your consideration.”
Version 9 continues that trend, adding a robust Organizer feature to Premiere Elements that can double as a nice queuing area for transcoding multiple clips.
Premiere Elements 9 also allows tapeless workflows—from Flip cameras to D-SLR consumer and pro cameras—a feature that’s only recently been added to Adobe’s flagship editing tools, Adobe Premiere Pro, as part of the much more expensive Creative Suite 5 software bundle.
It does so by using two types of timelines. The first is the basic A/B timeline of multiple video and audio tracks, which is good for editing between clips.
For a single clip that you want to rapidly transcode, however, consider using the other timeline, called Scene Line. The feature provides a visual representation of an entire video clip in a single image, and every clip that’s placed in a Scene Line box then prompts the user to add another, and to choose a basic transition between each one.
Scene Line allows for very simple drag-and-drop-and-transcode workflow, as the next step beyond dragging a file on to the Scene Line is to choose the very visible Share button in the top area of the Premiere Elements interface.
Options under Share include choices for a variety of outputs, from Flash video for the desktop to iPhone content. Each preset can be modified, and a copy saved with a different name, in much the same way that Adobe Media Encoder handles modifications of presets.
It’s even possible, if your clips are short enough and your online video platform accepts emailed video file submissions, to fully automate the transcoding and uploading process.
This essence of this article isn’t to suggest that Premiere Elements 9 will take the place of Adobe Media Encoder. The benefits of a professional media encoder that takes advantage of multiple processors and works seamlessly with a professional editing tool can’t be overstated.
It is worth noting, though, that Premiere Elements 9 contains all the basic pieces for an automated workflow for basic video clips, and even those that need a bit of editing or tweaking. I recommend a careful look at this rather inexpensive option, which costs less than $105, combined with Photoshop Elements, on Amazon at the time of this writing.
Finally, via Photoshop.com, Adobe has now created a basic online video platform, with sharing and access via the Plus service, which gives up to 20 GB of storage for approximately $50.00 per year.