CyberLink PowerDirector Review

Cyberlink PowerDirector is currently in its 15th version. It’s a one-stop software package that allows you to edit and produce your very own high quality videos. The latest version can handle high definition video, 3D video and 360-degree videos and photos. PowerDirector uses a 64-bit rendering engine called TrueVelocity that allows your PC to handle workloads that were previously thought to be the sole domain of Apple workstations and professional AV studios.

Wide Range of PowerDirector Versions

Cyberlink PowerDirector is actually a bundle of a few different applications that work with video, photo and audio files. Each available version of the software gives you a range of access to these different applications. So, let’s break them down in terms of price.

On the low end of the spectrum you’ve got PowerDirector 15 Ultra. On the manufacturer’s website this product goes for about sixty-three USD, which is advertised as a drastic price slash from three hundred dollars. The Ultra package is basic, but handles just about all your editing needs if you’re a video enthusiast and not a true industry professional. You get 25GB of Cloud service across one year and a basic package of video and transition effects. These effects are rather dated and cheesy, so don’t use them unless you are trying to jazz up your kid’s Christmas play. What you don’t get is the new, updated Color and Photo Director applications. Otherwise, you get the same software performance and interface as the pricier options.

At the top of the line there are two choices that merit a closer look. There’s the PowerDirector 15 Ultimate Suite and Director 5 that are ideal choices for freelancers and studio professionals looking for an alternative to the super pricey Adobe Premiere and Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Cyberlink’s Ultimate Suite runs about 275 USD and the Director 5 suite is reduced at about 145 USD. Both versions offer 50GB of Cloud service across a year’s subscription and some truly professional applications for coloring, special effects, and photo editing. Director Suite 5 edges out with more video effects and video to photo options that can come in handy if your are working as a freelance one-stop-shop for all types of content production.

Interface Learning Curve

Let’s talk about the user interface. Now, if you’ve used Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, then you’ll find PowerDirector’s interface to be extremely straight forward and easy to learn. Just about everything is drag and drop. You drag and drop files into the editing timeline. You drag and drop different sections and can break up video, photo and audio files. There are some basic master tabs: capture, edit, produce, and create disc. Cyberlink also uses symbols and images to help you find functions such as a microphone, web cam, and 3D button. Once you figure out what these icons and symbols represent, you’ll find that everything you need is right in front of your eyes. That’s a big difference from the competing software suites because you need to spend quite a lot of time just figuring out where your function keys and tabs are within the editing workspace.

Setting up a project is done through the settings tab, but there are fewer options than Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. You can customize hotkeys on the keyboard to streamline your most tedious projects, but the program doesn’t necessitate the use of them like Final Cut Pro or Premiere. One thing that’s great about the interface is that you won’t have the problem of creating lots of floating windows that get lost in the background of your screen. On the left side of the screen you have your files to pick from and on the right you have files that you are currently working on, your preview space. It’s also important to note that the preview window for your project videos is shown in full HD.

Working With Different File Types

Previous versions of PowerDirector were limited on working with different file types, but thankfully PowerDirector 15 can operate with just about anything. Long gone are the days of converting files outside of the application and then bringing them back into the edit. This could be a problem at nearly any skill level so it’s good that PowerDirector has broadened its range of acceptable file types.

  • For video, you can work with AVI, WMV/WMV-HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC, MKV, FLV, DSLR video clip,AVCHD (MTS/M2TS), H.265/HEVC, MP4 (XAVC-S), iDevice/PSP MPEG-4, MOD, TOD,WTV (MPEG-2/ H.264), DVRMS, DivX, DV-AVI, 3GPP2, DAT.
  • For audio, you can work with WAV, MP3, WMA, M4A, OGG, FLAC, AAC.
  • For photos, you can work with MPO, JPS, RAW, GIF, BMP, JPG, TIF, PNG, Animated GIF.

PowerDirector 15 works with 120/240fps Video, 2K and 4K resolutions. The software might be able to handle these frame rates and resolutions, but if you are working on a PC with limited RAM then you will get lots of glitches in your playback video. Also, the larger your file sizes and edits get, the harder your computer will have to work to manage all that data. Your computer might even shut down. So before you get started, be sure to check the minimum system requirements. One trick you can use is to break large projects into smaller sections and save them as separate files. Then, using a beefier hardware setup, you can merge these files before your final production.

Editing Basics

When it comes to the basics of video, photo and audio editing, PowerDirector 15 really has the market cornered. With such an easy to use interface, basic editing tasks can be handled rather easily and efficiently. On the left side of the screen, there are symbol icons for your editing menus, fx, text, audio, etc. You can import a video file from your computer or capture from your device. Place that file into the timeline and run down the list of basic editing procedures. They are already ordered in the manner in which a professional would go through them. Each time you click on an icon,a separate window opens with all your options. You can preview the different options before committing to a single effect and undo your mistakes without long term effects to the entire project. Hovering over the icon will also give you a small description of this particular function.

Advanced Editing Techniques

PowerDirector can handle some pretty advanced level editing techniques. Color correcting, green screen rendering, and picture-in-picture are just a few of the advanced level functions it can perform. Again, be sure to review the minimum system requirements to make sure that your hardware can handle these functions.

PowerDirector excels at working with sports and action video. The motion tracking function is rather automatic and its done by the software automatically, so you don’t get that much control over it. Other programs like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere give you full control over every tiny detail. If your skill level is not top notch, then PowerDirector is a great choice for you. It gives you the same effects without having to fully understand the processes at play. This software acts as a user-friendly learning tool for advanced editing techniques because you can play around with them to get a better grasp of their uses in professional studio production. You might not need 3D video, but you can play around with it to learn new applications for it in your future productions.

Output Options

Audio and Visual production is only as good as what you put out, what you can produce. In Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere, this final step can really trip you up if you aren’t a true industry professional. There are just so many options to choose from and very little explanation for which one is the right choice for your project. In the case of PowerDirector 15, those same options are there, but there are simpler tabs for choosing them. There is a tab for Produce and a tab for Create Disc, so at least you can narrow down your options by what you want, either a file or a disk. You can export ISO files, which is great if you want to burn a disk in a different program. You can also export files without losing frame rate or resolution. The software can produce 3D video and high definition videos that are widely recognized by disk and video file players. Again, the drag and drop function is king. Just use the master tabs and follow the over-sized icons.

Final Thoughts

PowerDirector has won PC Mag’s Editor’s Choice Award eleven times and continues to stay relevant even as new industry technologies and techniques emerge. However, if you are an AV professional working at an agency or studio, you won’t get many cool points for working with PowerDirector. Learning to use FinalCut Pro and/or Adobe Premiere is unavoidable in those professional settings. Yet, PowerDirector can catapult your skill level into the range of these powerhouse production software suites by giving you a user-friendly introduction to the same functions that they provide. This is also an ideal choice if you are working as a freelancer because it’s value priced and works well with a decent PC hardware that has just higher than average RAM and memory. You can use PowerDirector for your family photos or use it to launch a career in video production. So, get out there and shoot some video.

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