Cyberlink PowerDirector 17 Ultra £79.99
PowerDirector is my number one choice of video editing packages on Windows for serious video makers on a tight budget. If that’s all you need to know, skip the rest of the review and go and buy it. But, while I am generally enthusiastic about this product, there are also things I don’t like about it. So if you want a more balanced overview, read on.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with PowerDirector, let me begin with a brief overview. This is a video-editing package that lets you import video and audio clips and edit them on multiple tracks arranged on a horizontal timeline. You can cut, copy and move clips. You can apply ‘transitions’ to fade one clip into another with optional effects such as wipes, dissolves and so forth. You can change the colours of video clips, make them look like old black and white films or cartoons and apply a whole batch of other snazzy effects. Once you’ve finished editing, you can produce the final video in a range of common formats. One of the most striking features of PowerDirector is its production speed. In my experience, it can render videos significantly more rapidly than any other video editing package I’ve used. For a more in-depth look at its core features, refer to my reviews of previous versions: PowerDirector 16 and PowerDirector 15.
OK, but what’s new in this latest release?
New FeaturesOne of the most useful improvements is the integrated audio editing. In previous releases, if you wanted to do anything more than very basic edition editing (cutting, volume control and son on) you were obliged to launch the audio clip into a separate Wave Editor program, or another audio editor of your choosing. Now PowerDirector 17 now pretty decent audio editing capabilities in a popup editor window. This includes effects such as Reverb, Pitch-shift and Noise reduction.
|The integrated audio editor gives you quick access to audio cleanup and effects options
|Here I’ve selected two different shades of green in the left pane to remove different portions of my green background
|Here you can see the main project ‘Promo’ on the left tab with two nested projects shown in tabs to its right
Many other features have been improved in this release. These include speed improvements, support for more video formats and codecs, additional text effects such as neon and fire, an enhanced ‘video collage’ designer to let you do split-screen effects with multiple clips, and an improved screen recorder.
The screen recorder tool is useful for anyone making screencast videos that show software being used: for example, if you are creating software tutorials or reviewing games. You can also include webcam video captured at the same time as the screen but this has the significant limitation that the webcam and screen-capture will be recorded together into a single video clip so you can’t subsequently edit the webcam video by moving and resizing it or applying Chroma Key. I queried this with Cyberlink and they provided a suggested ‘workaround’ which involves recording the webcam from the main PowerDirector workspace and then recording the screen separately using the screen-recorder tool. While this may work it is not exactly simple. Even an inexpensive video package such as Movavi Video Suite provides a better webcam/screencast recorder than that! And if you are doing regular screencasts, Camtasia remains my top recommendation.
In addition to the things mentioned above, PowerDirector also comes with a large range of effects and transitions, with excellent ‘colour matching’ capabilities, support for 360 degree videos, motion-tracking, multi-camera editing and auto-synchronization of clips by aligning sound wave patterns.
Hers is Cyberlink’s promo video, highlighting some of the software’s notable features…