Adobe Premiere Elements 7Adobe Premiere Elements 7 provides the basics for video editing through its simple interface with drag-and-drop placement of clips, transitions and effects. Automated options are also available for instantly editing clips into a fully fleshed-out film, complete with optional Hollywood-style effects. There are visual and audio effects like animated titles, special effects, TV-style transitions and interactive disc menus. A Videomerge function takes a moving subject from solid-color backgrounds (like greenscreen) and drops it into new settings, and movies can be output to Blu-ray disc, DVD, Internet portals, and mobile phones and other devices.
Premiere Elements 7 is also available as a bundle with Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for creating videos and cinematic slideshows with accompanying imagery. The programs work together intuitively, so single stills or video frame captures can be added into the video with text, graphics and other creative enhancements. Images can be output as printable CD labels and DVD covers. List Price: $99 (Premiere Elements 7); $149 (Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7).
Apple iMovie ’09 and Final Cut ExpressAvailable as part of Apple’s media suite, iLife ’09, iMovie ’09 comes bundled with iPhoto, iWeb, GarageBand and iDVD. iMovie itself has been totally revamped for the ’09 release, with a Precision Editor and improved drag-and-drop movie editing. There’s a browsable library for keeping videos and clips organized by events with a flippable interface for easy perusal of stills. An impressive new video stabilization feature reduces camera shake in footage and, of course, there’s integration with Apple’s MobileMe online gallery, Apple TV, iTunes, iPhones and iPods. iMovie is designed to keep the process simple, with intuitive importation of photos, music and effects, including new animated travel maps, dynamic themes like Bulletin Board, Filmstrip and Comic Book, and the Ken Burns mode for adding motion and zooms to still photos. There are 18 new animated titles, and the Title Browser provides a fast way to preview finishing touches. Voiceover recording is also possible through a microphone, which most modern Macs include.
When iMovie doesn’t have the editing power you need for an elaborate project, use Apple’s Final Cut Express 4. Final Cut Express can import video from most sources, even projects straight from iMovie, and adds hundreds of sophisticated cinematic effects and filters, like Soft Focus, Vignette and Light Rays. Final Cut Express will automatically perform scaling, cropping and frame-rate adjustments so that standard-definition and high-definition material can be mixed together into the same project. Audio controls are verbose, as well, and more effects are available to be downloaded as they’re created. List Price: $79 (iLife single user); $199 (Final Cut Express).