While DV camcorders and more powerful computers have made editing video more accessible to a wider audience, getting started with video can still be confusing because of the wide range of choices among today's video-editing software products. You could start with one of the entry-level consumer tools for less than $100 and have fun making short productions using the built-in wizards and templates. But, what if you then want to get more involved video editing, whether because you are training students or want to edit your own corporate presentations or music videos? Wouldn't it make more sense to start out at the beginning with a deeper tool that could grow with you, instead of having to break some old habits and learn new techniques when you start over?
This explains Adobe's approach with its new Adobe Premiere Elements, released in September 2004 in the same entry-level price range ($99 MSRP). This is not just a stripped-down version of the full-up Premiere Pro (at $699). Instead, like Photoshop Elements, this is actually a significantly enhanced version of the professional product, adding templates, intelligent defaults, just-in-time how-to instructions, and built-in DVD authoring that allow you to get started easily, and still have the power of the Premiere engine humming under the hood when you're ready to shift into high gear.
If you're interested in dabbling with video editing to see what it's like, and have fun making short productions, then you can happily get started with the free tools bundled with your system: Apple's iMovie on the Mac and Microsoft's Windows Movie Maker on PCs. Or, you can 'do a bit more with widely distributed Windows consumer products, like Pinnacle Studio, Roxio VideoWave, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, and Ulead VideoStudio (all under $100).
These tools typically help simplify the editing process by providing a storyboard interface, so you just need to arrange thumbnails of clips and then they provide the basics for adding a music track, plus titles, plus basic transitions and effects. The result is a friendly, but ultimately constrained, sandbox. These applications are great for easy and occasional quick assembling of clips, but they are something of a detour if you have aspirations to do more with your editing.
But getting started with professional tools is not necessarily appetizing either, both because of their intimidating complexity to new users and the significantly higher cost for applications like Apple Final Cut Pro ($999), Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Express DV, Pinnacle Edition, Sony Vegas, or …