I originally posted this query into the Photoshop Elements forum ('cos I couldn't find this one originally...) and received some very helpful replies from Barb__O - thanks Barb. These have given me some useful leads on things to try, which I've done and did see some improvements, but I'm still not at the point of being happy with the results. The problem appears to be a PRE problem, so reposting here...
I am trying to put together a video presentation for output directly to PC monitor (more specifically, LCD data projector of 1024 x 768 resolution) and then record to DVD, in PAL SD format.
The presentation is to contain slideshows put together in PSE7 (so they already include title slides, transitions, Ken Burns effects and music tracks) and video clips from a couple of different sources - one clip is a scanned Standard 8 film (format is a frame-to-frame AVI at 720 x 576 resolution ie SD PAL) and some clips from a 1440 x 1080 HD (H.264) video camera (Canon HF10). Reading through some of the forums, I'm doubting that PRE7 will be able to handle this variety of input formats...
The still images come from many sources - digital camera, scanned prints (B&W and colour) and scanned transparencies. All images were dropped into the PSE7 slideshow in their respective original sizes/resolutions. There are close to 100 images in the slideshow. Apart from a few scanned B&W print enlargements that were spat out by PSE7 because they were too large (other photo editors had no problem with them - seems PSE is a little precious in this regard...) the process of putting the slide show together went pretty smoothly.
Playing the finished slideshow in the PSE7 preview window, the results were excellent. Exporting the slideshow as a 1024 x 768 WMV file and playing it in any media player yielded the same, excellent results! So far, so good.
I then wanted to put everything together using PRE7 - slideshows, video clips and titles. From PSE7 I clicked the "send slideshow to Premiere Elements" at which point the slideshow was dutifully dropped into my currently opened PRE7 project. As the project already contained the aforementioned scanned Standard 8 clip, the project setting was PAL DV 48kHz. I was feeling exuberant at this stage. I added a couple of title slides and a transition or two and played the result in the PRE7 full screen preview window...
I was absolutely horrified with what I saw when the slideshow started to play. All of the still images were badly pixellated, had jagged edges and any vertical wipe transitions had a horrible, angular ripple effect. In short, unwatchable.
As I had to get the presentation done and was clearly getting nowhere with PRE7, I exported all my slideshows out of PSE7 as WMVs, my video clip out of PRE7 as an AVI and dropped everything into Windows Movie Maker, with excellent results on the PC monitor and the LCD projector. Clearly there was/is a problem with PRE7 or one or more of its esoteric settings.
I now want to add another slideshow and the HD video clips mentioned above to the presentation and then burn to DVD. I would like to use PRE7 to do this, as I can set up menu markers where I want and I want to make finer adjustments to relative positions of stills and video than Movie Maker will allow - but obviously this is all dependent on resolving the quality problems.
After suggestions given by Barb, I played around with the PRE7 project setting and tried various settings here, eg HDV, SVHCD etc. These certainly improved the quality of the still images in the slideshows (to the point where I was happy with them), but the transitions were still ugly and the pan/zoom effects became jerky and distracting, not only that, but the music track that I had synchronised with the slideshow, with a nice fade out at the end, just ended abruptly - again distracting and not at all good.
To be honest I'm confused with that project setting - should this be set to the format I want the finished project output to end up in, or is it set to the format of video input to the project? If the latter, how does it deal with different format video clips?
I've also read about the recommendation to set all still images to 1000 x 750 pixels - this would have been fine if I'd known this *before* I put together the slideshows, I don't want to have to re-do them all again (or can I re-size the images while they are actually *in* the slideshow?)! Besides, PSE7 itself and Windows Movie Maker handle images larger than this, quite happily. Why can't PRE7? Also, how is this resolved for large portrait orientated images? What is the primary dimension (width or height)?
As an aside, I tried re-sizing a single image to 1000 x 750 and dropping straight into PRE7, but I still get poor results (ie grainy, pixellated image)! ("Scale to framesize" is off)
So am I flogging a dead horse here or can I resurrect things so that I can end up with a reasonably professional looking result? I really want to love these two products, they do some things really well, but so far, my overall user experience has been one of complete frustration and disappointment. The user interfaces of these two products have to be about the worst I've come across!