Cyberlink PowerDirector is a fast and well-featured video editing suite that is, in my experience, far more powerful than its relatively low cost might suggest.
This latest release adds in some useful capabilities such as enhanced tools for creating panoramic 360-degree videos (assuming you have an appropriate camera) including ‘little planet’ videos (where panoramas seem to wrap around to form a sphere) and titles that stay ‘inside’ the 3D space, better colour matching and grading tools to change the colour ‘temperatures’ of clips and match the tonal ranges of one clip with another. You can also create video collages. These are split-screen videos with clips arranged in predefined ‘patterns’ all on the same screen.
|The PowerDirector 16 editing environment – clips imported into window at top-left, the multi-track timeline at the bottom, the preview window (showing three videos combined into a ‘collage’ at top-right)|
If you regularly make use of musical backing tracks in your videos, the new ‘audio-ducking’ tool might be of use. This automatically lowers the sound on a ‘background’ track containing music or some other kind of ‘background audio’ when there is some dialogue on a ‘foreground’ track.
My first attempts at audio-ducking were not entirely successful. I applied the default settings to a backing track and let PowerDirector analyse the other tracks (principally the main video track containing dialogue). It then made adjustments to the background music by increasing the volume in the pauses and decreasing it during speech. Then end result was a wild cacophony of loud music blasting out at unexpected moments. I had better luck when I adjusted the settings in the audio-ducking dialog to increase the sensitivity and ducking level. The end results were still not as good as when I made audio adjustments by hand. Even so, automatic audio-ducking is a lot faster than adjusting audio the hard way so it may be useful in some circumstances.
|Audio-ducking automatically decreases the volume of a backing track when there is foreground dialog. You may need to experiment with various options to get good results however.|
|The collage designer lets you edit together multiple video clips and show them in split-screen views. Here the collage designer lets me pick a pre-designed ‘collage’.|
My review of PowerDirector 14 provides a quick overview which is still relevant to PowerDirector 16
So, in summary, PowerDirector 16 has a few useful new tools and features, the most striking of which is probably its improved support for 360 degree videos. It doesn’t really have many significant additions for more traditional types of video. Even so, it is an excellent program for fairly serious video makers and, at the price, it is terrific value.
A word of warning. If you are a serious video maker, the chances are that you are going to visit the PowerDirector web site and notice that the software seems to be targeted towards families; there are lots of examples showing people making holiday and birthday videos. You will then, quite reasonably, conclude that PowerDirector is an amateur-level tool that must surely be unsuited to your more professional-level requirements. All I can say is, don’t believe it. While its ease of use makes it a perfectly good choice for amateur video makers, its power and speed make it just as good for professional use. OK, so maybe it hasn’t got what it takes for making Hollywood blockbusters. Then again, how many of are involved in making Hollywood blockbusters? Most professional video makers these days are more likely to be making YouTube videos, online video courses, instructional DVDs, promotional and sales videos or creative videos on a budget. For that level of video-making PowerDirector 16 is just about ideal.
Additional SoftwareSome editions of PowerDirector are supplied with additional software – notably, PhotoDirector 9 (image editing), Audio Director 8 (audio editing) and ColorDirector 6 (more advanced ‘colour grading’). The available editions are shown below.
PowerDirector EditionsThe following editions of PowerDirector are available (showing the official price and the current offer price in parentheses):
- PowerDirector Ultra £219.97 (£54.99) – the basic video editing package
- PowerDirector Ultimate £239.97 (£54.99) – Ultra plus extra effects
- PowerDirector & PhotoDirector £109.99 (£84.99) – Ultra plus image editor
- PowerDirector Ultimate Suite £209,99 (£159.99) – Ultimate plus AudioDirector & ColorDirector
- PowerDirector Director Suite £249.99 (£164.99) – Ultimate Suite plus PhotoDirector
For full details see feature comparison chart: https://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdirector-ultra/compare-versions_en_GB.html