As an occasional user of Premiere Elements 9 (PE) I donít want to get caught up with technical problems when I have spent hours/days crafting my latest production. However, my last few videos have been fraught with problems that have not been apparent until the DVD has been burnt and played on the TV.

Namely, Poor still photo quality and Audio Out of Sync (OOS) with video. Both these are really annoying as whilst working on the timeline and even through to the preview stage after adding menus everything looks fine. Then after the long process of creating the DVD it all goes to pot.

After many hours of trial and error, reading forums, and getting annoyed I have usually managed to work around these issues and hope what follows may help others (or me when I forget what I did last time!).

My example is one that I am sure many will have faced, a wedding video. Iím using this as it involves many sources for content, still photos and videos from various cameras.

1/ Before even creating a project I use Photoshop to reduce the resolution of all the still photos and create copies that are no wider than 2000 pixels. I read somewhere that this is more than enough as DVD quality will not be affected and PE handles smaller files these better. You can get Photoshop to do this as a batch to save time.

2/ What project settings? I have read a lot about the importance of matching the content to the project settings but what do you use when you have different sources. My initial choice would be the match the project with my primary video source. Wrong. This is what caused my poor still photo quality on the DVD, horrible saw tooth edges on the diagonals, just horrible. By default I now use PAL DSLR 1080p 25fps. This seems to work fine for all the input sources I have been using.

3/ So now you can create your masterpiece feature. Music track, video, stills, transitions and effects etc. To fill a 16:9 screen have to I increase the size of the still photos by scaling to 123% depending on the source. This may also mean repositioning vertically as well to avoid cutting heads off etc. I have to upscale my video clips a bit as well 103%.

4/ I like to make the transitions work with the music and this is where any OOS on the final DVD is really frustrating. Also I have had the scenario where my feature video is fine and then add the wedding speeches as separate scenes. The DVD plays fine for the feature video but some of the speeches are off lip sync by a second or thereabouts which is unwatchable.
On the forums when you start looking for OOS issues itís not long before someone starts going on about Codecs and source attributes and the like but as a user of the software I donít really think I should have to understand all this tech stuff to make a simple video which is surely what PE is for. Anyway I have two options here which I have found and used to fix this issue (I hope).
A) Use black video where you have any gaps in your primary timeline. Imagine it to be glue to hold your clips together. I never used this previously as itís not that easy to find.

(Organise/Project/New Item (The little sheet of paper symbol on the far right)/Black Video.
This seems to make all the difference. Even add a few seconds at the beginning and end for good measure.

B) fter my feature video is finished I save it as an AVI (DVPAL Widescreen). Then I create the speeches and other scenes as a separate project, still using the black video to infill any gaps and at the start/end. I then save this as second AVI file.I then create a ďFinalĒ project and import the two AVI files, again adding a bit of Black Video at start, between and end. I was a bit dubious about this export/import loop as it feels like a recipe for a loss in quality but I havenít noticed any. Plus, it seems to get rid of another problem I was having with red/green vertical edges appearing on the TV screen during some of the transitions.

5/ This final version is where I add the menus. If you use a PE template and add you own image to the menu screen you may find that (as per usual) itís fine on the preview but vanishes from the DVD. This seems to be because you may have switched the annoying 30sec music loop off. PE9 seems to need an audio file to retain the image you have added. So either add one of your own or create a music file with 30 sec of silence and add that.

Onefinal thing, always have a DVD RW disc on hand to burn as you go and review your work on the TV so you uncover any technical problems early and sometimes it takes seeing you masterpiece on the TV to know if it ďfeelsĒ right.

You may not need all of these ďfixesĒ but I have written them all as they have helped me and hopefully, if you fall upon this article it may save you some time and hair!