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Alternatives to Premiere Elements

User feedback from this course often includes this common question: Why was Premiere Elements selected as the video editor?

It's certainly not the best editor out there, but it is very inexpensive and works with both Macs and PCs. By using this we can show how to edit (or provide support) for anyone taking this course. The pro version of Premiere is too expensive to justify for beginners but is also available on both platforms. If you can use Elements, the pro version will work about the same.  In some ways it's easier. 

There are other options that you are welcome to use, but you may have to find support on your own.

DaVinci Resolve 17 is available for free and is a pro-level production tool. If you feel constrained by Premiere Elements, you may consider using this.

Macs come with iMovie. It will do everything you need to make these sorts of videos. It is easy to use and is highly recommended. It is only for Macs, however. iPads also come with iMovie, but due to the large size of video files, this may not be practical for many projects.

Windows 10 has a "secret" video editor built-in. You can get to it through the Photo Editor application. It is very minimal but will work for basic videos, especially if most of the work is just trimming clips. It loads quickly and is self-explanatory. (Warning: do not use any music clips from this program. They will get flagged by YouTube as copyrighted.) 

After you have gathered your required clips, sounds, stills and other content, your next task is to assemble them together coherently into a final product.

View of Adobe Premiere Elements editing screen.
View of Adobe Premiere Elements editing screen.

As an editor you will have a number of tasks to complete, including:

  • Trimming clips
  • Ordering clips
  • Fixing recording problems (Exposure, noise, mistakes, etc.)
  • Adding narration
  • Adding text
  • Adding (possibly with pan/zoom) still images
  • Adding music, if desired
  • Adjusting audio levels of each track
  • Adding transitions/fades as needed
  • Rendering the video into mp4 format

There are several options of video editors for PCs and Macs. In this course we are recommending Adobe Premiere Elements. It is inexpensive, fairly simple to use, and works well for how-to type videos. 

Other options for editors include Camtasia, iMovie, Windows 10 Video Editor App or the pro version of Adobe Premiere CC. The exercises on this page will mostly work with the other programs, but their interfaces are different. If you have questions about editing, we will be better able to support you if you use Premiere Elements. 

Tutorials for most the above products are available at LinkedIn Learning, to which all ANR employees have access. (One exception is the Windows 10 Video Editor App. It's great for super-simple videos where you just need to trim and maybe add a little text. See a tutorial here. )

Editing Exercise

To help you get practice with editing videos, we're going to assemble a short video about aphids.

All the required content can be found down below. We will be using Adobe Premiere Elements to edit the video. You can purchase a license at AggieBuy very inexpensively. This page explains the purchasing process.

The video was designed to incorporate most of the common editing tasks that you may need. It's not necessarily an example of the best possible video about aphids, but instead it's an example how to assemble a useful array of varied content types of into a final video.

Here is the storyboard used to make the example video shown below: Aphids Storyboard

Aphids (Completed Edit)


Your mission is to replicate the video above. All the content you will need is provided below. Please download all of the content below, unzip it, and place it into a single folder.

Watch this video where the entire editing process is demonstrated. This video is about 1 hour. After you complete viewing the video, attempt to edit your own version of my aphids video. It should end up being about 1:10 to 1:50 seconds in length. I would plan another hour or two for the editing process, depending on your experience.

When teaching Master Food Preservers new techniques and recipes, we ask that they do it the first time exactly like the recipe shows. Next time they try it, they can do things like tweak the spices. I ask the same from you. Please try to replicate the example video closely.

The clips and editing choices selected were deliberately made to show an array of techniques. If you try to match the example video, you will be able to compare the two version and assess your comprehension of the process. This will help you ask better questions about where you had problems. 

Editing is never fast, but you will get quicker with practice. Short videos have less time commitment than long ones. Keep your videos short!

If you want to follow along with the steps used in editing to create your own version of the aphids video, here is a task list listing most of what was done: Aphids Video Editing Tasks

A few notes about the demonstration video below.

It took a few tries to record the following video, but eventually something useful was recorded. This is a technically challenging task for a laptop PC to manage. Here we're attempting screen capture, rendering, running an editing application, and gathering two sources of audio. Unfortunately, there are times the audio cuts out. Recording new narrative over the top just didn't work out. Thankfully, it's only a couple places and you won't miss much.

One thing it did miss recording is the section where we set up the "pan and zoom" effect on still photos. Apparently this tool's code is not well optimized and uses a lot of processing power. In those sections the audio is hit-or-miss. In that section, I show how to change the hold time during the panning process. (This is a fixed time where there is no movement.) In these short clips with the roses, I do not want a pause at the beginning or end.

The audio you're missing is largely me adjusting the hold time. Here is what I'm doing.

Adjusting hold times: In the Pan & Zoom tool, click on the keyframe you want to edit (there are 2). In the top left corner of the green box on the preview pane, you can see the word "HOLD" in green. Click that and a box will come up to edit the hold time. By default it is set to 1 second. To have no hold I usually lower the number 0 or 1 frames (The last set of numbers is frames. In this video there are 30 frames per second.)

At the bottom of this page is a discussion of the production of the editing demonstration video which you may find instructive. I suggest you read that after watching the video. 

Video Editing Demonstration

Music Tracks

In this video I used sound assets included as part of the software. These are royalty-free sound assets.

If you choose to use sound from other sources, there may be a copyright conflict, even if they are provided at no charge. For example, the sounds included as part of the Windows Editor are free, but there are some restrictions that YouTube will catch when you post the video, so viewers may see an advertisement before watching your video. 

YouTube provides a library of free, royalty-free music tracks. UC ANR has a license with Killer Tracks to provide contemporary music available through Strategic Communications. To keep the editing process simple, we are only using the content provided within the software.

These other options can be explored on your own.

Lower Thirds Text

A common need while editing videos is adding a person's name and title to the video. The most usual situation where this occurs is when a person is being interviewed or addressing the camera. 

Lower Thirds Text Example from
Lower Thirds Text Example from "Today" on NBC.

It is standard practice to add text to the lower third of the screen, hence the name.

We will not be adding any lower third text to the editing exercise on this page; however, if you want to use lower third text, UC ANR has a preferred template. 

Please visit this page for instructions on its use.

How This Page Was Made

The short aphids video was filmed with a Pentax K3ii DSLR camera. Most shots used a 20-40mm lens. (30-60mm full-frame equivalent focal length.) It was edited in Premiere Elements 2019 Dell Laptop.

Editing Time

Without recording an instructional narrative, it took me about 35 min to edit. With narrative—and after a couple failed "practice" attempts—it took about 55 minutes to edit in this final version. 


The demonstration video was created by recording the editing process on my computer via screen capture using OBS Studio. It was then brought into Premiere Elements to do some final editing and clean up.

This is an easy way to make lectures out of your PowerPoints. Run OBS Studio, record the presentation, and then edit it. Editing is mostly just some basic trimming that can be done in any editor. The audio recording issues I encountered are atypical when recording narrative over a PowerPoint. 

Camtasia is very good at recording and editing these sorts of videos, but it is not free.

Production Process

For those interested, here is the production process I used to create this section of the course: 

  1. Created a storyboard of a simple project with useful elements
  2. Filmed and gathered clips with my assistant, Amelia
  3. Did a practice edit in Premiere Elements
  4. Recorded a list of tasks while I was editing for future reference
  5. Practiced making the video with my task list
  6. Recorded an editing session (using the task list) with OBS Studio and edited it in Premiere Elements…and repeated it a few times due to technical issues
  7. Posted the final video edit and editing demonstration on this site

What would I do differently?

The editing video isn't perfect.

Final rendering and uploading it as-is was a 2.5-hour process on my laptop using my home internet service, plus the hour of recording time. (Upload would be faster at work.) Because of the time involved, I am limited to how many attempts I can reasonably make. This is as good as you're going to get for the course, but I learned some things myself in this process which may help you if you're doing a class based on screen capture.

I wasn't pleased with the audio quality of the editing video in a few places. My laptop's CPU was seriously overtaxed when Premiere Elements was either rendering or using the Pan & Zoom tool. I expected something like this during final rendering and planned to keep quiet then, but not with the Pan & Zoom tool. Adobe's code is clearly poorly written or out of date there as that should not be taxing while there is no rendering. 

There are 2 ways to avoid this, and had I known this would be a problem I would have done it. The best would be to record my narrative onto another device like my smartphone using the voice recorder app. The other would be to re-record narrative over the bad parts. Since this is unscripted, my attempt to overdub the recording was comically bad. Even though this isn't perfect, it's good enough. Don't let perfect get in the way of good, right? Next time I will record computer audio and narration on separate tracks using another device.

Another problem I encountered was setting up OBS studio to record the desktop audio. My first attempt did not record the sound from the computer itself and was unusable. An hour wasted! Make sure you go to OBS Studio's audio settings and enable desktop audio. I eventually made it work but I learned an important lesson: desktop sound recorded into OBS Studio is unaffected by your computer's volume settings. My voice is a somewhat normal speaking level but the desktop audio is LOUD! Since it is all recorded onto 1 pre-mixed audio track, there wasn't much I could do. I manually reduced the volume of the loud sections.

If the narration and computer audio were on separate tracks, adjusting levels would have taken about 15 seconds. Manual editing on 1 track took about 45 minutes. I missed a couple small clips. Sorry about that. 

Ideally this single, long video would have been broken up into about 14 small video segments of about 6 to 10 minutes each. Each with an individual learning objective and clear script. Each would have been practiced several times in advance, and I would have had a more reliable mouse. 

In all, including technical issues, creating just the editing demonstration video took me about 12 hours.

I estimate that to do this 1-hour editing demonstration video in a more professional way would take me about 100 hours. Adding captioning would probably add about 4 hours more, assuming YouTube did a fair job at capturing my narrative. It took about 2 hours to plan, record and edit the aphids video itself. Together that would be about 106 hours—over 2 weeks' work.

Since my main job is an advisor and not a video producer, you get the glitchy 12-hour version. Enjoy! 

G.I.Joe character is lecturing a child