12 Replies Latest reply on Aug 18, 2009 2:01 PM by the_wine_snob

    Is Elements for Me?


      MY PURPOSE:  To transfer some old family VHS tapes to DVD, but first to edit and improve the audio and video. I intend no high-definition projects. My computer is a Pentium 4, Windows XP, 2 GB ram, 500GB hard drive. (I’ve been using the full version of Photoshop for years; never had a problem.) I was planning to purchase the ADS Pyro AV Link packaged with Adobe Elements (Elements version 4 or 7 is available).





      ISSUE:   I’ve been reading in this User Group and MANY consumer reviews about the constant instability and crashing of Elements. Seems that overwhelmingly the people who have written reviews are quite frustrated and hate the product. Upon closer examination of the questions and responses posted to this Elements User Group, however, it also seems that a good many, if not most, of the complaints come from people using Elements 7 and working with high-definition files — in particular, they need MUCH more robust systems than Adobe’s requirements state.




      QUESTION:   Limited to capturing standard-definition VHS tapes (about 1-1/2 hours in length) with Elements (4 or 7), editing, saving, then burning DVDs, am I likely to experience the kinds of freezing and crashing reported by sooooo many users? Since I’ll be working only with standard-definition, is Elements version 4 more reliable and suited for my purposes, or does Elements 7 work well if limited to standard definition? Thank you.

        • 1. Re: Is Elements for Me?
          Steve Grisetti Adobe Community Professional

          If you're capturing your video with ADS Pyro AV Link, you should be fine, H.


          That's assuming you've got plenty of hard drive space (You're going to need it -- an hour of video can produce 13 gigabytes of video files and require at least twice that for processing and editing) and that you keep your computer well maintained.


          Yes, some people have a lot of trouble with this program. But most of them are a) Not editing DV-AVIs (You will be, because you're capturing with the Pyro) or b) have a corrupted or out of date operating system or inadequate or poor quality hardware.


          Without knowing your computer, it's hard to say. My computer set-up is very similar to yours -- though I regularly ensure that it is up to date and free of junk files. Here's my regular maintenance regimen.



          But you'll never know without a good test drive. And you can do that by downloading the free trial from the Adobe site.

          • 2. Re: Is Elements for Me?
            the_wine_snob Level 9

            I do a good deal of the type of work that you are contemplating. I happen to use a different capture device, but very similar. The Pyro gets good reviews, though I have never used it.


            Now, I happen to do most of my editing in PrPro, but that is mainly because I had it for years, before getting PrE 4. I also am very used to its layout and know exactly where everything is. Still, having used PrE, I feel that it would work very well. I have found both PrE4 and PrPro to be very stable, even with monster Projects. I'm working on an 8 hr. epic with tons of Assets and have had no issues at all.


            Looking over the rough specs. on your computer, there are two things that I would consider:


            1.) I'd fill out the RAM (probably 4GB, but that depends on the MoBo). Depending on your OS, you will likely not be able to use the full 4GB, but will get the benefit of most of it. RAM is cheap now, so the fact that you have a slight overage, should not be much of a concern. Make sure that the RAM chips match 100%.


            2.) Internal HDD's. I would add 2 - 3 additional HDD's. Go for as large as you can get, and obviously with the appropriate connection. I feel very strongly that a 3x HDD setup is the minimum for happy editing. Some get by with a 2x HDD setup, but trust me, 3x is better. Even my laptop has 3x internal HDD's


            Recently, Fry's Electronics (Western US computer retailer) had Seagate 1.5TB ATA-300's with full installation kits for US$114. I only wish that I had bays for these, as I would have stocked up, but I already have 6x SATA II's in my workstation, and there is no more room! Obviously, you will want to go with what you have a controller for, i.e. SATA II, ATA-100, ATA-300.


            Here is my rec. for a 3x HDD setup:


            C:\ OS, programs and Page File only

            D:\ media

            E:\ Projects and Scratch Disks


            I only recommend RAID 0 for the D:\, and only if one has backups of that media. If one wished to add more HDD's, I'd then recommend a F:\ RAID 0 for Exports, but that is lagniappe (a New Orleans term for "a little something extra").


            Now, let's talk about external storage and you WILL need that. For a VHS Project that included 17 tapes of SP, EP and LP, I needed 4x 1TB externals to save all of that material. Even if you edit completely with only 1-3 tapes at a time, you will want to backup your Projects and your Captures. I've been using the Maxtor 1 - 2 TB multi-connection One-Touch drives. They have been dropped, and I was out of town, when Fry's had a total closeout on these. I have many of the Western Digital units, but have not been too pleased with their lower end externals. Their Studio and their World versions seem much better. I would shop around for some of these. I like the FW-800 connections, as I can actually edit to/from these, and move my Projects between computers. USB 2.0 should only be used for archival backup and then with a bit of caution. FW-400 is better, but if one wants to do any editing to/from, then FW-800 is the minimum. eSATA will be even better. Now, you will need to survey your system. Both a FW-800 and an eSATA card will need to be added for these. They are available in PCI and PCIe, but you need a spare slot that can be used. Also, you need to check your BIOS to make sure that it can handle either of these. Chances are good, but you MUST check this out first.


            These are but suggestions, however, they are based on my personal experience with many similar projects. They are not the only way to go, but would be a great base, from which to start.


            Good luck,



            • 3. Re: Is Elements for Me?
              the_wine_snob Level 9

              One additional thing to think about will be the final "authoring" of your finished DVD's. While PrE does offer some authoring capabilities, these are limited. I use Adobe Encore for 99% of my authoring, but it is ONLY available with PrPro (great program, but probably overkill for what you want to do). However, Sony has an authoring program, DVD Architect. Steve Grisetti has just done a book on it. From my readings, it is pretty close to Encore, though costs less than Encore did, when it was available without PrPro.


              If you know PS, then you will be a shoe-in for doing some cool Menus and DVD Architect would be a big plus. Steve will have to fill in the blanks, but I assume that it can use .PSD files, set up appropriately, as Menus. That alone would be enough to convince me to buy that program, if I did not already own Encore.


              The authoring phase is almost as important as the editing phase. I would not be comfortable using PrE 4 to do my authoring, but then I have, and know Encore, so I can never "go back."


              Just something to think about in the total scheme of things, considering your Project.


              Good luck,



              • 4. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                the_wine_snob Level 9

                Another tread reminded me of this - something that I forgot to mention.


                You will want all of your HDD's to be formatted NTSF, including any/all externals. Note: most of these come formatted as FAT-32, so they can be seen by both PC's and Mac's. One must Convert these to NTSF, at the time that they are put into service.


                Also, I would also set the drive letter as a constant in your OS, with disk management, before you put these into service. This is less important if you are using them for archival storage, but is VERY important, if one wishes to edit to/from an external. Note: this must be done in the OS of any computer that one might want to transport the Project between. For my first transport external, I chose Z:\ and have worked backward from there. Unfortunately, my workstation has so many physical drives that I have now had to duplicate drive letters. This means that I cannot have both U:\ drives hooked up to it at once - I have to "schedule" them...



                • 5. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                  HSA1 Level 1

                  Thank you for your help; much appreciated.


                  Worth noting is all of the complaints and frustration regarding Premier Elements.  And it's MUCH worse in consumer reviews on websites that sell the product (Amazon, New Egg, CNET, etc.), as contrasted with this Adobe User Group site.  "Irate" comes to mind.


                  Even if we assume that the program itself is NOT extremely poor and loaded with bugs, and I accept your experienced views that the program is ok, then how can one avoid blaming Adobe that they have been remiss and grossly negligent in stating the "system requirements" for this program to operate properly?


                  On the other hand, I've been a user of (the full version) of Photoshop for at least seven years.  It is among the most reliable programs I've ever used.  In seven years it has crashed only once . . . and that was likely my fault.  Very Reliable.


                  Back to Premier Elements.


                  Since I will be be capturing, editing and burning only Standard Definition VHS to DVD -- no high-def work -- will I gain anything by Premier Elements 7, over version 4?  Recall that most vendors state that are selling the ADS Pyro AV Link bundled with version 4.  In a press release earlier this year, ADS annnounced that the Pyro is now bundled with Premier Elements 7.  But so far it seems that one has to hunt for it, as few sellers can assure the buyer that their purchase of the bundled products will come with version 7.  Of course, if the concensus is that 7 is much better than 4, at only $70 (street price) it would be worthwhile in any event.


                  Thanks again.

                  • 6. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                    HSA1 Level 1

                    Thank you, Hunt, but for now I must admit that I don't know what "authoring" is.  I had thought that the ADS Pyro AV Link (or Canopus 110) along with Premier Elements (as contrasted with some lower-end video editing software), were all that was needed.


                    I neeed to do more homework.



                    • 7. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                      Steve Grisetti Adobe Community Professional

                      I think you need to download the trial to find out if it's for you, H.


                      As we always say -- Your mileage may vary.


                      Video editing is a very demanding process. And, if there's a weakness in your system or its operating system, an intensive program like Premiere Elements will find it.


                      Although frustrated people post angry reviews about the program, remember that that's not necessarily a representative sample of hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of users around the world -- most of whom, like Hunt and me, are experiencing nary a hiccup with the program.


                      So you'll never know for sure what your experience will be without a test drive. That's, after all, what free trials are for.

                      • 8. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                        the_wine_snob Level 9

                        In your example, there are three step:


                        1.) Capture - getting the VHS tapes digitized


                        2.) Editing - what one will do with those digitized files


                        3.) Authoring - getting the final, editied material onto a DVD-Video


                        Now, PrE does some limited authoring, and it does save one from having to do an intermediate Export of the files. However, compared to full-authoring programs. like Adobe Encore, or DVD Architect, it is fairly basic. Still, "fairly basic" might well be enough. Only you can decide that. For me, it does not even come close. If I did not have Encore, I would probably use a program, like DVD Architect, or DVD Studio Pro. With these programs, one does need to Export the finished, edited files, and then Import them into the authoring program. The exception to this is by using Adobe Dynamic Link between PrPro CS4 and Encore CS4 - but you must have PrPro CS4.


                        Good luck,



                        • 9. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                          I have had Photoshop from the very first day that it hit the PC. I think that my S/N was 00003. I also find it to be a monstrously stable program. In all of those years, I have had one crash, and it was not PS's fault. Over those years, I always pushed the boundries of what my computer could do, with monster files. Some were so large, that I had to wipe all other programs, but PS off of my drive, and could only Save one version, before I had to do a tape backup of that, and then delete that copy. Never failed me.


                          Now, NLE (Non LInear Editing) is different than even a large multi-Layered PS file. It takes a lot more power to run those programs correctly. This is not just PrPro and PrE, but all of them.


                          With problems, I've found that there is a common breakdown:


                          1.) System - people trying to do too much with too little machine. A computer used for NLE work can have many bottlenecks, and most people do not consider them all. They fail and they complain. Their latest Dell crashed, so it must be PrE (or fill in the name of any NLE program), that caused this.


                          2.) Project - people do not consider their source footage, and try to use the wrong footage in the wrong Project Preset. The program, or the Project, crashes, and they complain. They did things wrong, but it must be the program's fault. Recently a user on the PrPro forum complained that PrPro had "allowed" him to commit an error. How could Adobe write such a bogus program, that it allowed the user to make an error? I'm sure that he was soon off to every other forum, complaining about how shoddy PrPro was and how poorly designed it was.


                          3.) Assets - people try to edit all sorts of stuff. Even if they got #2 correct, or as close to correct, as is possible, the Assets can still give issues, and often do. When they try to edit material that was never meant to be edited, or try to convert to some totally off-the-wall CODEC/format, and cannot, they complain. The constant cry is, "why cannot PrE (or fill in the blank) not edit .DOC files?" or similar. The answer to that rethorical question is: it's not a word processor. Still, off they go to complain about how PrE can't handle the most common of file types.


                          Now, unlike PS, I have crashed PrPro and even PrE 4. In each case, I think that it was a clear-cut case of OE (Operator Error) on my part, as a restart brought things back up and the Projects edited perfectly from then on out. Now, I am using both programs on some pretty stout systems, that are designed to run NLE's. All of my Assets are DV-AVI Type II, or similar, and all are in SD Projects. Still, I barely need the fingers on both hands to count the crashes, even with some monster Projects that ran many hours in Duration. I still think that I did something each time to cause those crashes. This goes back about five years, so fewer than 10 crashes seems to be pretty good to me.


                          I cannot say that there are not some Bugs. I've found a couple and others have tracked down a few more. Still, these are so few, that they do not even deserve honorable mention on my list above.


                          Good luck with your decision. As there are more NLE's out there, I'd strongly suggest that you do get as many reviews, and trails, as is possible. I have a few more, but seldom use them, so I cannot really comment on most. Going back some years, I did have Pinnacle Studio, and fought it up to version 9.4.3. Things got pretty smooth with that version, but then Studio 10 came out, and it was heartache for me. I gave up on Pinnacle, though the latest version seems to get some good reviews. Many like Sony's Vegas, but I have never even seen it up and running. For me, PrPro is my main NLE and is likely to stay there for some time to come.



                          • 10. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                            HSA1 Level 1

                            Hunt and Steve, you are truly extraordinarily helpful members of this User Forum.  Thank you both.


                            I do have one, hopefully quick, further question for Hunt.  (Now remember, I'm new at this!)


                            You use a separate program, not Premier, for "authoring".


                            Assume that all the desired editing, including adding titles and other effects (using Premier) is complete.  Assume further that you run the complete video in Premier and it looks good.  What is there about "authoring" other then telling Premier to burn the project to DVD?  Clearly there must be something or you wouldn't use a separate program simply to burn the project to DVD.





                            • 11. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                              John T Smith Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              Authoring is the process of converting "computer" video files into "TV" video files


                              The authoring software allows (requires) you to create a menu (I think there is a way to have an auto-play DVD without a menu, but I'm not sure of that) which allows you to press the PLAY button on the DVD player remote... and a LOT more if you go into chapters and sub-menus


                              The authoring program then converts the files into the special format required to make a "movie" DVD instead of just a computer data dvd


                              Lastly, the authoring program will... if you don't have one of the several programs that gets in the way... burn the DVD - and, if you DO have something in the way of Encore or PreElements "talking" to the DVD drive, you just tell the authoring program to create the DVD on your hard drive and use the free IMGBURN to actually burn the DVD


                              In short... you MUST have authoring software as well as editing software... be that the bundle of PremierePro/Encore or the all in one PreElements

                              • 12. Re: Is Elements for Me?
                                the_wine_snob Level 9

                                John pretty much sums it up.


                                For me, the ability to tailor my navigation exactly as I wish is the big plus. PrE does some things semi-automatically, and also has some navigational limitations. One, and possibly the biggest, is the inability to have anything as Play First. It will always open with the Main Menu. It will always link (if you have DVD Chapter Markers) to Scene Select Menus, and these will be "populated" by only so many Buttons - more Chapters, and you get more Scene Selection Menus. Also, say you have chosen a Menu Set (Main + Scene Selection) and the Scene Selection Menu is laid out with 4 Scene Selection Buttons. Now, you have 7 Chapters. What you get is the first Scene Selection Menu with the 4 Buttons, laid out per the Template, and then the first 3 from that 4-Button matrix on the second. I like to set the Button layout, per my own design.


                                Those are just a few of the limitations, that I would prefer to not have to deal with. I do not want semi-automatic, regardless of how much time it might save me. I want complete control. There are already limitations imposed by the DVD-spec. Some things changed with the later BD-specs, but there are still limitations. These are bad enough, and I am always finding ways to convince my users that I have found a way around those limitations - even if I am using "smoke and mirrors." PrE takes away that smoke and those mirrors.


                                Now, all of that is my personal choice. Many feel no limitations at all and love the semi-automatic aspects of PrE.


                                Good luck,