Welcome to the forum mellisa. Other then the watermark, there should not be any limitations on the trial version.
If you have been editing your files in Premiere Elements and adding transitions and/or effects, it may be that you need to render first for your previews to display more clearly. Take a look in the Timeline mode, if you see a red line above your clips, rendering is needed. To do that, press Enter.
Regarding project settings, they must be set before adding your video clips. If you let us know what camcorder you have, posters here can help ensure you have the correct project settings set up.
As Paul says, quality is not an issue in the trial version. But:
1) What is your source video? What type of camcorder did your video come from -- and did you ensure that your project's settings match this camcorder? This is vital! As vital as ensuring your computer is actually powerful enough to edit some of the heftier formats, like AVCHD.
2) Have you rendered your timeline? If there is a red line above your clips on your timeline, press the Enter key and the program will render the clips. The results should be of much higher quality.
As has been stated, the only limitation with the trial is the watermark. This FAQ Entry will tell you how to address that, should you purchase the program.
Also, complete details about:
Your source footage (as much info, as is possible). If necessary, the great, free utility, G-SPOT will give you full details, should you not know them.
Your Project Preset, what settings you chose, when you did New Project. This must match your source footage 100%.
Where are you judging the quality? Is this in the Program Monitor (the preview that you see when you press the Spacebar), or from an Exported/Shared file? If the latter, how is that Exported/Shared file being viewed?
Thanks for the response. I did select the correct project settings when I created the new project. This helped a little, but the video playback was slow and jittery. I didn't do any editing other that shortening the clips, but I rendered the video anyway (which took a while by the way) and noticed no improvement. Maybe my computer isn't powerful enough?
My camcorder: Sony HDR-XR500
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core 5000+ 2.60 GHz
- 4 GB RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 and GTX 275
What did G-Spot tell you about those files from your Sony? Especially, what is the CODEC inside those files?
In your system specs, you did not mention your I/O sub-system, i.e. your HDD's (Hard Disk Drives), their speed, controller type, amount of free space, and how you have them allocated for editing. Can you give us that info? With the exception of AVCHD, which is highly CPU intensive, the I/O is the most important aspect of playback.
Also, do you have the very latest video card driver from nVidia? If not, you will want to update that.
The files for my Sony are m2ts files. The the CODEC is AVC.
As for the hardrives: There are 2 HDDs: one is 250 GB and the other is 400GB. The OS is installed on the 250 and my video and media files are allocated to the 400 GB. They are both SATA 3.0 Gbs with no RAID. Both drives are only about 30% used.
I'm not sure if I have the latest video card driver, but I will check for an update.
That dual-core CPU will likely never let you edit AVCHD footage smoothly, regardless of the trial version, or the full-version.
Most feel that a recent, fast Quad-core is the absolute minimum and some feel that only an overclocked i7 is up to the task. AVCHD is highly compressed, and unlike most formats, is VERY dependent on CPU power. With almost all others, the I/O gets the bigger load, and yours looks good. Now, a third physical HDD would generally improve things a bit, but will have no impact with AVCHD (oh, maybe a touch, but you'd likely never notice with that CPU). Sorry for the bad news. I almost feel that the camera mfgrs. are in cahoots with the chip and computer mfgrs. One gets the neat AVCHD camera, and the salesman fails to tell them that they will be back the next week for a new computer.
Sorry for the bad news,