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CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite Intermediate Editing Software Review

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For the budding beginner or the budget-minded editing aficionado, CyberLink PowerDirector 11 delivers easy-to-use quality results.

CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite cranks up the speed with its new TrueVelocity 3 rendering engine, adds a couple of powerful new applications - ColorDirector and AudioDirector, a number of new editing tools, a host of effects and something called Content-Aware Editing. An intermediate editing software application, PowerDirector 11 is easy on the beginner while holding considerable appeal for more advanced video editors - particularly those on a budget.

Crankin' It Up

Having previously adopted the OpenCL standard to enable GPU acceleration among a broad number of graphics cards from NVIDIA, AMD and Intel, CyberLink has gone a step further with its new TrueVelocity 3 rendering engine. TrueVelocity 3 supports multi-GPGPU or multiple graphics processor acceleration, for significant gains in rendering speed. Of course, you will need the right hardware to take advantage of the TrueVelocity technology, but for those who do, it's a great time-saving feature.

Beginner Friendly

Current users of PowerDirector will have no difficulty adjusting to the new version, and new users will find the learning curve to be quite gentle, particularly with the host of learning resources available to them.

Upon opening, four options appear at the top left of the application: Capture, Edit, Produce and Create Disc. When choosing Capture, PowerDirector detects any attached capture devices and readies them for action. Edit accesses the media room, preview window and timeline areas. The media room has options for importing files and folders from internal or attached drives or content from the Internet.

Along the left margin of the media room are a series of tabs for accessing other "rooms" where specific editing tasks take place: effects, PiP (Picture-in-Picture), particle effects, titles, transitions, audio mixing and voice over recording.

Once imported, simply drag and drop the clip onto the timeline and a series of tabs appears. Clicking the Split tab does exactly that - it splits, or cuts, the clip at the point where the current time indicator is placed. The Modify tab displays the PiP Designer, allowing you to adjust a number of properties such as chromakey, shadow, border, 3D settings, opacity and more. Motion paths and masks may also be applied. The Trim tab accesses the trim window while Fix/Enhance gives you the ability to work with lighting, stabilization and noise adjustments as well as enhance your video's white balance, sharpness and color properties. The Power Tools tab lets you reverse, crop, rotate, adjust speed for your video and even convert 2D to 3D. Clicking the Keyframe tab displays clip properties on separate tracks and allows you to change values over time by applying keyframes to create custom effects. Edit Audio opens the WaveEditor audio program and, if you have the Ultimate Suite version, you'll have more options with AudioDirector.

New Kids on the Block

PowerDirector 11 has added two new tools to the Ultimate Suite version: ColorDirector and AudioDirector. ColorDirector is a powerful, post-production color-grading tool for enhancing your video's color and tone while AudioDirector gives you complete control of your project's sound design. If you don't happen to have the suite, both are available as separate stand-alone versions for $130 each.

Access to ColorDirector is achieved by clicking the Fix/Enhance tab above the timeline then clicking the ColorDirector button. The clip you're working on is loaded into ColorDirector for adjustment. Clicking the back button takes you back to PowerDirector where your changes are reflected immediately for seamless round-trip editing convenience. In ColorDirector, many options are available: tone adjustments, one-click white balance correction, controls for exposure, contrast, brightness, clarity, vibrancy, hue, saturation, and more - with keyframing capabilities to boot! A set of presets apply grain, old film and various other looks to your footage, or you can create your own presets, and share them with others via PowerDirector's online community, DirectorZone. You can even download presets created by other users. ColorDirector also lets you mask selected areas and change within or outside the masked areas, you may then motion track the mask as you wish.

AudioDirector takes the existing WaveEditor several steps further with the ability to work with 7.1 multi-channel sound in LPCM format and broader file support. Fit in 99 layers of audio at up to a 32-bit 192kHz sample rate, and plenty of your audio can be processed. Keyframes are available for volume control as well as audio effects. AudioDirector's restoration tools are especially powerful; noise reduction and healing capabilities let you take a background noise print and remove the unwanted noise from the file. Spectral view lets you "see" anomalies within your audio file and remove them with minimal effect on the surrounding areas.

Final Thoughts

Content-Aware Editing is a new feature in PowerDirector 11 that is quite interesting. Right-click on a clip and select Edit using Content-Aware Editing. Your clip is analyzed for zooms, pans, faces, motion, shaky video and poor lighting. A window appears showing a separate track for each, with an indicator where each condition occurs in the clip. The idea to save time slogging through hours of footage by letting the application show you where the people and action are located, with the assumption that those are the things you're interested in. You can then quickly review, select and move these areas to your timeline. Portions with shaky video or poor lighting are quickly corrected with the click of a single button. In practice, you can only apply Content-Aware Editing to one clip at a time so a large number of clips will still take some time to get through and results are a bit mixed, depending on what's happening in the particular scene.

While PowerDirector 11 has too many features to adequately cover them all, it still has the great 3D stereoscopic support of the previous version, and looking to the future, has added support for 2k and 4k resolutions, which it should handle quite well with the proper hardware and multi-GPU acceleration. PowerDirector 11 is a solid performer that delivers a lot of power for the price, is easy to use, includes some impressive professional features and is well worth a serious look.

Tech Specs
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista or XP (Service Pack 3)
CPU Requirements: Full-HD quality H.264 and MPEG2 profiles: Intel Core i5/7 or AMD Phenom II X4; 2k/4k/3D video editing profile: Intel Core i7 or AMD Phenom II X4 with 64-bit OS
Memory Required: 512MB required; 3GB DDR2 or above recommended for 32-bit OS; 6GB DDR2 or more for 64-bit OS and 3D editing
Graphics Card: 128MB VGA VRAM required; 1GB or greater VRAM and OpenCL capable are recommended
NVIDIA: GeForce 8500GT/9800GT and above; GeForce GT/GTS/GTX 200/400/500/600 Series
AMD: APU Family with AMD Radeon HD Graphics: A, E2, C, E, G-Series; AMD Radeon HD
Graphics: HD 7000, HD 6000 Series
ATI: ATI Radeon HD Graphics: 5900, 5800, 5700, 5600, 5500, 5400 Series; ATI FirePro Graphics; ATI Mobility Radeon HD: 5800, 5700, 5600, 5400 Series; ATI Mobility FirePro: M7820, M5800

Strengths

  • GPU and multi-GPU acceleration
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of features and effects
  • Good price for what you get

Weaknesses

  • Content-Aware Editing results are mixed

Summary

For the budding beginner or the budget-minded editing aficionado, CyberLink PowerDirector 11 delivers easy-to-use quality results.

CyberLink Corp.
www.cyberlink.com
$70 Deluxe; $95 Ultra; $130 Ultimate; $250 Ultimate Suite

Colin Marks is a video producer and trainer.

Tags:  January 2013
Colin
Marks
Fri, 11/30/2012 - 2:36pm