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Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 review

Our Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 review assesses the newest features of this video editing software, including motion tracking effects.

Laptop running Adobe Premiere Elements
(Image: © Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Our Verdict

With a simple interface and guided edits, Premiere Elements is useful for making engaging videos while learning editing skills. However, both guidance and features lack depth, and performance can falter.

For

  • Well-designed, clear interface
  • Guided edits teach you the ropes
  • Motion tracking feature useful and accessible

Against

  • Guidance doesn’t go beyond the basics
  • Some features lack depth
  • Performance can be slower than competitors

Adobe Premiere Elements enables novice editors to turn their video clips into slick productions. It's an all-in-one video editing and content creation software that has been designed for users who prefer visual user interfaces and simple layouts. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand, you’ll most likely prefer this video editor if you like a one-time purchase and want hands-on media creation support from within the software. 

Premiere Elements is among the best video editing software of its kind, with key competitors including CyberLink PowerDirector, Pinnacle Studio and Apple’s iMovie. 

It was first released in 2004 and has been regularly updated since. The latest version is Adobe Premiere Elements 2021, which sees the addition of a motion-tracking tool for effects and two new guided edits. 

In our Adobe Premiere Elements 2021 review, we will assess the features of this software, in particular those introduced in this latest version, and help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: Motion tracked effects

Adobe Premiere Elements review

Draw around an object to track an effect onto it  (Image credit: Adobe)

The biggest addition in Elements 2021 is built into the video effects. After applying an effect to a clip, you can draw around an object or area within the clip. Elements tracks this object as the clip progresses and masks the effect to it. You can brighten a sky, adjust the color of a moving vehicle, or blur the face of a person. 

The way this is built into the effects panel is efficient and accessible. The equivalent process in Premiere Pro is very complicated and requires deeper understanding of masks, so it’s impressive how Adobe has simplified the process for Elements while retaining most functionality.

However, the controls can be fiddly, and the cursor sometimes changes from the drawing tool to a rotation tool when you don’t want it to. Plus, the tracking accuracy varies – in some of our tests, it worked impressively smoothly, but in others, the tracked area drifted away from the actual object.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: Double exposure guided edit

Adobe Premiere Elements review

The guidance allows you to combine a video clip and a framing graphic (Image credit: Adobe)

A key feature of Elements is guided edits, which take the user step by step through various tasks. They’re useful in helping you learn the ropes and build confidence using the interface. The 2021 edition includes two new guided edits – double exposure and animated mattes.

The double exposure guidance involves combining a mask, either from the included graphics library or your own photos, with a video clip. It shows you how to use blend modes and filters to give this resulting video various looks. The actual functionality here isn’t new – you could achieve the effects in previous versions of Elements – but the guide does introduce users to numerous tools. 

That said, the guidance is still very basic, and further explanations would be useful, such as how to move the video clip around or animate the mask. It’s also odd that Adobe has prioritised adding this guided edit for existing functions and hasn’t added one for the new motion tracking.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: Animated matte overlays

Adobe Premiere Elements review

Animated mattes enable you to creatively frame your footage  (Image credit: Adobe)

The other new guided edit takes the user through adding an animated matte to a video. These are fun graphics that reveal or frame a clip in interesting ways, and there are 37 to choose from.

Again, though, the guidance is basic – it tells the user to change the track matte settings a certain way, without explaining what the settings actually do. Still, while the mattes are far from as flexible as the animation options in higher-end software, they’re a fun and accessible way to add visual flair to videos.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: GPU acceleration

The latest version of Premiere Elements has had some under-the-hood improvement, now making greater use of the graphics card to accelerate performance, rather than relying entirely on the CPU. 

While performance varies depending on your hardware, there’s definite improvement in this version, with the GPU acceleration enabling you to watch certain effects in real time, without rendering them first. That said, Premiere Elements can still run slowly compared to some competitors—more time is spent rendering and waiting for the program to respond here than with PowerDirector or Pinnacle Studio.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: Should I buy it?

Premiere Elements has a clear and accessible interface, and useful built-in guidance. However, this guidance is lacking in depth, as are some of the features. Competitors such as PowerDirector offer a greater number of features, as well as faster performance.

Premiere Elements costs a one-off fee of $99.99. While this may seem high for a relatively basic application, it’s preferable in the long term to the subscription model used by PowerDirector and Premiere Pro. If you have a previous version of Elements and want to upgrade, the price drops to $79.99, though this doesn’t seem worth it for the few new features.

While it’s far from the most professional application on the market, Adobe Premiere Elements is a good choice for novice editors and enthusiasts wanting to make visually appealing videos, such as to compile holiday footage in interesting ways or for social media purposes.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021: System requirements

Windows

  • Intel 6th Generation or newer processor or AMD equivalent with SSE4 support
  • Microsoft Windows 10 version 1903 or later; 64-bit versions only
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 6.9GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10GB to download all optional content; additional free space required during installation
  • Internet connection required for product activation and content download

macOS

  • Intel® 6thGen or newer CPU
  • macOS v10.14 or later
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 8 GB of available hard-disk space to install applications; additional 10 GB to download all optional content; additional free space required during installation
  • Internet connection required for product activation and content download

Read more:

The Verdict
7

out of 10

Adobe Premiere Elements 2021

With a simple interface and guided edits, Premiere Elements is useful for making engaging videos while learning editing skills. However, both guidance and features lack depth, and performance can falter.