Premier Elements does not import variable frame rate video correctly. The audio and video gets out of sync and if you have multiple sources the video will get out of sync between them over time. This is a long running problem which still doesn't appear to be fixed in the newest version. There are literally dozens of posts here from users struggling with this problem.
The usual workaround suggested here is to convert the footage using handbrake or some other conversion tool to fixed frame rate H264. I have used this successfully several times but there are still a few major issues with it.
1. Handbrake is a complex tool with dozens of settings for the conversion. I am not confident I know the best settings to just retain the original quality and output fixed frame rate. I think it would be good to have a forum post here with input from those with expertise in this area.
2. Even assuming the conversion to H264 is flawless, H264 itself doesn't seem to be a great editing format. Or maybe, again, I am missing something about the parameters for conversion which give elements trouble. Some of my clips behave ok but others have problems such as:
When I research this I seem to find consensus that H264 is not a great editing format. It is designed for playback efficiency. But I don't know what format I can convert to that will be importable in Premier Elements. Most of the choices I see in the import compatibility list are also not really editing formats (correct me if I'm wrong here Please)
So the questions are:
1. Is there a better format than H264 to convert to from .mov (or other H264 sourced video) that would make the Premier Elements editing experience better?
2. Does anyone have a really good set of parameters for handbrake which will keep the original quality and output a well behaved Mp4/M4v for editing.
(Simplified summary. I have source video from 4 generations of iphones from a 4 to an iPhone XS. What's the best way to get it to Elements for editing and keep consistent video/audio timing between clips and retain as much quality as possible.)
The H.264 MP4 is just fine for editing. You should have virtually no loss of quality in going from a 1920x1080 MOV to a 1920x1080 30 fps MP4 using Handbrake.
My problem is not that it can't be edited or quality, it is that the editor seems to choke on some of the converted files (maybe depending on how I set handbrake???). Simple things like clicking down a few minutes in the timeline hang the editor for a few seconds to sometimes 30-60 seconds. If I have effects turned on which are complex this can get even worse (I suspect effects that require previous frame rendering like echo but I'm not sure).
Other clips I convert work fine. For the quality portion I just wondered if anyone had more experience with transcoding to recommend a good set of settings when the target is for further editing after handbrake conversion (instead of playback) when you don't care as much about file size or encoding times.
Again, I may be missing something but it seems like it would be a great resource here to have a detailed set of handbrake settings for a preset for iPhone .mov -> handbrake -> MP4 -> premier elements editor workflow. Most of the forum answers I've seen don't give many specifics on all the complex handbrake options when editing is the target. I'm experimenting now with varying the keyint and min-keyint overrides to see if having more frequent keyframes helps. But it's a lot of trial and error.
Editing smoothly also depends highly on the horse power and drives used.
"Editing smoothly also depends highly on the horse power and drives used."
I agree. But the problem I've noticed is that some clips render previews quickly and some seem to take forever (same machine/same project). To the point it makes editing painful.
The more closely your video specs match your Premiere Elements project settings, the more efficiently the program will perform. That's why converting to a compatible video format gives a number of performance advantages.
Meantime, for what it's worth, the 2019 version of Premiere Elements DOES support variable frame rate video, according to the product description. So I'm interested to hear of results people are having working with iPhone and Android variable frame rate video.
If that's true I would seriously consider upgrading. Hope someone with 2019 can chime in on that. It's a pain in the butt to convert these constantly.
And yeah, I converted them all to the same resolution and framerate and used that as the project setting. I ran across some weirdness with that earlier.
I have 2019 and it's been a nightmare and does not work as far as I can tell. Hence why I am on this forum !
Premiere Elements, in most cases works well. Can you be more specific about what is not working for you?
I could barely edit my project working with a .mov file and exporting was estimating over 27 hours. Once I used handbrake, it ran much smoother. Updated Premiere, 1 TB Mac Pro and working off a hard drive. So I still had issues, but the video was quite large so maybe smaller .mov files work.
OK, I just finished reconverting one long clip and overrode the keyint and min_keyint parameters. I then went into the project and used "Replace footage" to switch from the original conversion to the new conversion. When I move the position slider now, the preview windows stays current with the new position smoothly. With the old converted file it would lag and sometimes take 10-20 seconds to catch up. I think forcing handbrake to insert more frequent keyframes is helping a lot. I'll convert another now to retest. The next one really shows long preview lags so it should be a good test.
This is the setting I changed in the extra options field: keyint=30;min-keyint=1
Ok, I just finished the second clip. Exactly the same improvement. I would suggest you try this if you're using handbrake to convert .mov files. The resulting file size of the conversion was almost identical so it didn't explode the file.
I also open the original .mov and the .m4v files and went to the same exact frame. I could not see any quality degradation so that's good news.
I exported the handbrake custom profile. I can't attach it here but I'll copy it below so you can copy to a file and import.
"PresetName": "Mark Editing",
I have not tried Handbrake tool, so I can't really comment on the quality of the output it produces. From what I know, the quality of video after encoding depends a lot on the dimensions, frame rate and most importantly the bitrate. If bitrate chosen is same as that of the source video, encoding from any tool ideally should not change the quality of the output video.
As far as, support for variable frame rate is concerned; it was not there till Premiere Elements 2018. We have tried to address the problem in Premiere Elements 2019 and it works fine for average length of the video usually captured by the users. Why don't you give Premiere Elements 2019 Trial edition a try and let us know your observations around audio-video sync for those iOS and/or Android devices' footages.
Handbrake produces excellent quality it even does lossless.
To finish this off, I think forcing handbrake to insert more keyframes helped a lot but i was still getting long lags here and there. So yesterday I swapped in an SSD for my primary boot drive. 500GB drives are now about 90$. That made everything faster. The program loads in about 1 tenth the time. I just rendered a project that used to take 10 minutes and it finished in one. The machine comes out of sleep in about 3 seconds now. 🙂