Your computer is likely underpowered for all but tape-based video. You're going to find it next to impossible to edit AVCHD or most hi-def video on it.
What model of camcorder is your video coming from and what format is it?
When you started Premiere Elements, which project settings did you select? Seleting project settings that match your source video is vital to efficient program performance, as I discuss in my tutorial series.
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I agree with Steve. For HD material, a Quad-core is about the minimum, and for AVCHD/H.264, one will greatly appreciate a fast i7 CPU.
Also, and even for SD material, a 7200 RPM HDD is about the minimum, and for HD material, multiple 7200 RPM HDD's are recommended, with a RAID array being even better for the media files.
Now, if you have red lines above your Clips, then Rendering the Timeline, by hitting Enter/Return, will improve playback. Do you have red lines above the Clips in the Timeline?
Good luck, and welcome to the forum,
Appreciate your reponses.
I'm maxed out on RAM and upgrading my CPU is not in the cards right now.
But the RENDERING TIMELINE really helped a lot! Excellent tip. Thanks very much.
And Steve: the camera I use most often these days is the Kodak Playfull. Raw files are H.264 MP4 format.
Rendering the Timeline can have a major impact on things.
For the Kodak, there have been several posts on the MP4's created, but I can only guess about the specifics, as those threads were for a different model. The files might be the same, or maybe not. I just do not know.
Read Bill Hunt on a file type as WRAPPER http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440037
What is a CODEC... a Primer http://forums.adobe.com/thread/546811
What CODEC is INSIDE that file? http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440037
Report back with the codec details of your file, use the programs below... a screen shot works well to SHOW people what you are doing
For Mac http://mediainfo.massanti.com/
Once you know exactly what it is you are editing, report back with that information... and your project setting, and if there is a red line above the video in the timeline, which indicates a mismatch between video and project