It’s popular, and completely fair, to complain about how hard high-end photo and video editors are to use. That includes Photoshop CC and Premiere Pro, of course. It used to be that the only way to deal with that was a painstaking and perhaps painful process of extended learning. Fortunately for everyone who doesn’t need to be an editing expert, there’s an increasing number of viable alternatives, like the recently updated suite from CyberLink. However, if you want to make the most of the Photoshop or Premiere knowledge you already have, but not keep up with their complexity, Adobe continues to push the functionality-and-usability envelope with its entry-level Elements photo and video editing suite.
Adobe Elements 2019 is chockfull of interesting enhancements. Many are geared to make it easier to perform common tasks by running wizards of various kinds, all of which rely for their smarts on Adobe’s emerging Sensei UI framework. That includes Auto Creation wizards that will assemble entire photo and video slideshows from a collection of your media. This should be a great productivity tool for sharing the highlights of family gatherings or other important events.
Adobe Elements 2019: Focus on Usability
Overall, Adobe has worked to enhance the usability of Elements with this new release, starting with a “Home Screen” experience more typical of a web service than a desktop app. The Home Screen is the first of the improvements that aim to make the many features of Elements easier to discover. This is a welcome focus, as with the increasing sophistication of modern editing tools the biggest issue isn’t whether they have a feature, but finding it and learning how to use it.
Adobe has also put a lot of work into improved performance, always welcome as our photos get higher-resolution and more users move to 4K video.
What’s New in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019
In addition to the new slideshow creation tools, there is now a tool for Auto Creating collages, using an extended library of templates including some optimized for Instagram. Frames and backgrounds can also be added easily.
Some of the new features seem a bit far-fetched, but I’m sure they’ll get used. For example, there’s a new Guided Edit that allows you to put a different photo behind each letter of a string of text. There is also a Meme creator in case you just really can’t let the urge to Meme-ify your latest pithy quote or photo pass. If you don’t want to go full “meme,” another new Edit helps you select borders and text that will help make your photos stand out when you share them.
The final new Guided Edit helps you turn your photo into a sketch. That capability has been around for a while, but now offers additional options for choosing various combinations of pen or pencil as well as paper type. I had fun with this photo I took of Angkor Wat, making it look a bit like some of the historic images that were made when it was first discovered (although of course at that time it hadn’t been restored):
What’s New in Adobe Premiere Elements 2019
Editing and assembling clips in Premiere Pro requires some pretty heavy lifting and knowledge of a variety of not-always-obvious tools and keyboard shortcuts. Elements 2019 provides a new Quick Edit mode that guides you through these steps. I found it a big step forward in usability, but you’ll still need to experiment with it a bit to get comfortable with how it works. It’s also important to match the AI-powered tool you’re using to the result you want. For example, while auto-trimming typically looks for action, if you’re shooting drone video of a landscape “action” is actually the bits where you’re rotating or moving the drone to a new location, and might be the portion of the video you least want.
The new version of Premiere Elements also adds support for some popular new imaging standards like HEIF format images and an HEVC codec on MacOS. (My early release version wouldn’t read an HEVC encoded video on Windows, so this support might be platform specific). Support for Variable Frame Rate (VFR) encoding has also been added.thin
One feature I enjoyed with Cyberlink’s new PowerDirector was the ease of overlaying video. Premiere Elements has some new guided edits to help do glass-like overlays, which can provide a polished look to a video.
Summary: Nice Updates, But No Big Surprises
Overall, Elements 2019 has some nice updates. If you need support for the new image formats or HEVC, of course, it is a must-have. And the new Auto Creation tools should be a time saver for many. Performance improvements are also always welcome, but unless you are having issues, may not justify the price. Unfortunately, Organizer doesn’t appear to have been touched. While some of its features were novel a year ago, competitors have equaled or surpassed it in some ways, and its interface looks dated at this point.
If you do want to take the plunge, you can download the new versions now, with pricing remaining consistent with previous releases. It is $150 for both applications or $100 for either Photoshop Elements 2019 or Premiere Elements 2019.
Now Read: Hands on With CyberLink Director Suite 365, Affinity Photo Comes to Windows, and Adobe Unveils Project Rush.