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CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Review

Screen capture of the Cyberlink Director interface

CyberLink PowerDirector 12 provides powerful video editing with the latest technology, featuring multi-cam editing and up to Ultra 4k resolution. The Director Suite 2 bundle adds similarly impressive audio and editing tools, plus color grading, at around $300.

You are probably familiar with CyberLink from using its ubiquitous PowerDVD player during the golden days of DVD. CyberLink poured new technology into PowerDVD to support all those new DVD features and formats, and then expanded it over the years into a universal HD player, from disc to desktop, and Web to mobile.

But CyberLink software is not just about playback, its PowerDirector video editing tool goes back to the mists of the early 2000s, beginning as a consumerized step-by-step tool. Then as we jump forward to 2014, the PowerDirector has evolved into a full up video editing tool, still with the latest technologies, and featuring impressive new capabilities like multi-cam editing.

And there's more. CyberLink includes PowerDirector 12 as part of its full Director Suite 2 for media creation. This not only has tools for audio and video, AudioDirector 4 for audio editing and restoration and PhotoDirector 5 for photo editing, but also includes ColorDirector 2 for color grading. And these still are priced in the consumer range: PowerDirector starts at $70, ColorDirector and AudioDirector are $130 each, and the full suite is bundled for $300. These consumer prices do not mean consumer limitations, however. They can handle big jobs: ColorDirector and PhotoDirector now join PowerDirector with 64-bit support, and the video tools now support 2k and 4k video.

PowerDirector

To get you started, PowerDirector still offers simplified editing with the Slideshow Designer or the Easy Editor, which uses the Magic Move Wizard to quickly import clips, select a style template, add adjustments for background music, and then produce the result as a video file or disc, or pass it on to the timeline editor to customize.

View of timeline in the Cyberlink Director interface
The Full Feature Editor then offers a classic timeline video editing approach with up to 100 tracks, augmented by the CyberLink technologies and tools. The timeline interface combines a variety of icons for editing commands and options, with buttons for major tools including fix and enhance cleaning and adjustments, power tools from cropping to 2D to 3D conversion, Keyframe effects, and the MagicStyle tool for automated fixes and movie generation.

The new version extends the 64-bit processing with optimizations for 40 percent faster H.264 encoding and three times faster rendering with the Intel 4th Generation Core AVX2. It has Content-Aware Editing to analyze scenes with faces, motion, zoom, speech or pans, and to automatically correct poor lighting and shakiness. PowerDirector 12 also adds new effects including tilt-shift, lens flare, and motion blur for picture-in-picture objects and text titles. And the new Theme Designer creates 3D-animated slideshows from photos and videos. But the most impressive addition is the MultiCam Designer, which allows you to review up to four camera angles captured from an event. To set up the multi-cam edit, lay out the tracks on the multi-cam timeline, and then align them, synchronizing the tracks by file times, timecode, or using automated audio analysis, to snap them into place. Then create a multi-cam edit by clicking camera one through four to switch in real-time. Finally, tweak the camera selections and cut points before moving the result into the editing timeline.

The Suite

The CyberLink Director Suite 2 augments PowerDirector 12 with tools for color grading and audio and photo editing. These share a common heritage from video editing, with timeline-based interfaces and familiar options for tools and effects.

ColorDirector 2 is an astounding tool in a suite at this price point. It uses a new 64-bit color grading engine, providing round-trip integration with PowerDirector for up to ultra hi-def 2k and 4k video. You can isolate colors with selection masks, dynamically adjust them with keyframes, and track them over time with intelligent object motion tracking. This second release adds noise reduction and sharpening, RGB curve adjustments, and look-up table support.  ColorDirector also adds high dynamic range support from the photo world to better balance scenes with bright skies and dark foregrounds, and to punch up the look of a scene.

For audio editing, CyberLink bundles its basic Wave Editor 2 Express. AudioDirector 4 is designed for audio-for-video editing through convenient round-trip editing with PowerDirector. AudioDirector does multi-source recording, mixing across 99 tracks, audio repair and restoration, and production to audio and video formats. The new version supports UltraHD 2K/4K video, extends the 5.1/7.1 surround-sound support with a surround-sound panner, adds new noise and hum removal tools and supports dynamic adjustment of sample rate, bit depth and number of channels. AudioDirector uses a video-like timeline interface to allow editors to view and adjust effects in a familiar way. It also provides a spectral frequency view for visually repairing problems like a ringing phone by selecting only the problem area.

For image editing, PhotoDirector 5 also is a native 64-bit tool, with RAW support for popular DSLRs and 4k output. It provides the full gamut, with photo organization and management including face recognition, plus non-destructive creative adjustments and editing, including technologies like tilt-shift effects and content-aware removal of unwanted people, objects, and wires in the scene.

CyberLink's attention to user needs shows in its collection of "people beautifier" tools, going way beyond red-eye removal to eye enhancement with enhanced whites, teeth whitening, wrinkle removal for smoother skin, and figure contouring to remove the curves that cameras put on. New features in PhotoDirector 5 include lens correction based on camera profiles, split tone adjustments to highlights and shadows, and Bracketed HDR to merge up to five bracketed shots into a single high dynamic range photo with automatic alignment and removal of ghost artifacts.

Wrap

CyberLink augments its tools with the DirectorZone online community, with hundreds of tutorials (from CyberLink and user-created) and more than 400,000 free, user-submitted presets and effects that you can use and refine for your own productions.

PowerDirector is an impressive tool, offering pro-level technology and capabilities like multi-cam editing at consumer pricing. The Director Suite 2 bundle doubles down with similar capabilities for audio and images, plus color correction for enthusiast editors.

PowerDirector 12 is available in several versions on Windows, with Deluxe, Ultra and the Ultimate Suite with ColorDirector 2 and AudioDirector 4, plus additional NewBlueFX and other content, or also with PhotoDirector 5 in the full Director Suite 2 for $300. CyberLink also includes the PowerDirector Mobile Touch optimized video editor for Windows 8.

CyberLink
www.cyberlink.com

Director Suite 2 (PowerDirector 12, ColorDirector 2, AudioDirector 4, PhotoDirector) - $300
PowerDirector 12 Ultimate Suite  (PowerDirector, ColorDirector, AudioDirector) - $250
PowerDirector 12 Ultimate $130
PowerDirector 12 Ultra $100
PowerDirector 12 Deluxe $70
(All include Wave Editor 2 Express; all but Deluxe include PowerDirector Mobile for Windows 8)

Tech Specs

Trial Version Available: Yes
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista (32bit/64bit); Microsoft Windows XP (32 bit with Service Pack 3)
Minimum CPU: for DVD/AVI/MPEG-4: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2; for H.264 and MPEG2: Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X4; for AVCHD/BD: Pentium Core 2 Duo E6400 or AMD Phenom II X4; for 2k/4k/3D: Intel Core i7 or AMD FX series with 64-bit OS and 6GB RAM
Minimum RAM: 2GB required, 3GB for 32-bit OS
Minimum Hard Drive Space for Installation: 6.5 GB
Batch Capture: Yes
Automatic Scene Detection: Yes
Number of Video Tracks: 100
Number of Audio Tracks: 99
Audio/Video Level Envelopes: Yes, via keyframes and on timeline/mixer room
Keyframe Animation: Yes
Number of Video Transitions: 110
Number of Video Filters: 138
Real-time Software Previews: Yes
Third-party Plug-in Support: NewBlueFX, Pixelan
Batch Render: Yes
DVD Authoring Software Included: Yes

Strengths

  • Powerful suite with pro capabilities at consumer pricing
  • Powerful technology including multi-cam editing and Ultra HD 4k resolution
  • Interesting new technology including HDR for photos and video
  • Integration with ColorDirector and AudioDirector

Weaknesses

  • Somewhat cluttered and inconsistent interface with menus, icons, and buttons
  • No layers in PhotoDirector

 

Doug Dixon covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.

Tags:  January 2014
Doug
Dixon
Sun, 11/10/2013 - 9:50pm