Cyberlink PowerDirector 8 Intermediate Editing Software Review

We have all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”, well that’s not the case with Cyberlink’s PowerDirector 8 you get a whole lot of features professional grade editing applications offer without the expensive price tag.

Cyberlink offers PowerDirector 8 in two different versions: PowerDirector 8 Deluxe at $70 and PowerDirector 8 Ultra at $100. The difference lies in Ultra’s exporting of HD video, including AVCHD support, along with several other publishing and sharing video capabilities, mainly the ability to author Blu-ray discs.

First Look

PowerDirector 8 has a pleasing interface that is easy to get around from the get go. I found myself importing footage and adding various effects within minutes of installing PowerDirector 8. It has the ability to edit in both timeline and storyboard view, depending on your preference, and you also have the option of using dual display support, along with a flexible workspace that allows you to customize window sizes, ultimately making PowerDirector 8 a valid choice when looking for an intermediate editing application that will best suit your needs. As far as the layout goes, it’s straight forward and relatively easy to grasp.

The Cutting Room

Within PowerDirector 8, the interface has everything arranged like other traditional editing applications do, with some customizable features depending on your preference. PowerDirector has different areas within the application called rooms for particular areas of editing. For example, there is an editing room, title room and a room for pretty much anything else you need to get done. You’re also able to drag your media into the timeline and zoom in to get precise cuts, frame by frame. PowerDirector 8 boasts a 16-track timeline, providing plenty of space for intricate layered projects, with added copy and paste features not found in earlier versions.

One feature I was particularly impressed with is PowerDirector’s ability to handle HD footage. When you import HD footage, PowerDirector has the option to create lower resolution proxies, ultimately boosting your workflow, allowing faster previews and more responsive editing. PowerDirector 8 also includes “power tools” that include slow motion, reverse video, and rotation options, allowing for pro-like results with minimal effort. If you want animation, PowerDirector 8 added a particle effect generator for simple effects all the way up to the most advanced special effects. With a 16-track timeline and added particle generator, Cyberlink didn’t overlook any small details. They even tossed in an Auto Shutdown feature after long periods of rendering – saving power and time!

Did I mention, PowerDirector 8 comes loaded with 72 video effects with adjustable keyframe support and 142 transition effects. It also comes with a slideshow designer with beat detection technology for crisp slideshows and video upscaling and correction based on TrueTheater technology which takes SD media and upscales it to HD, generating stellar results. TrueTheater technology also fixes common video shooting errors such as poor backlighting, incorrect white balance and inadequate lighting.

PowerDirector Has Even More Features

AutoPilot
PowerDirector 8 offers “Magic Movie Wizard” tools, which basically turns the application on autopilot and edits for you, taking care of music with “Magic Music” and video with “Magic Movie”. This can be polished and, surprisingly, produces decent results. It comes in handy when you need to get something out fast or simply don’t feel like editing. There are other helpful Magic Tools as well, making it a great tool if you’re just getting into editing.

Faster Performance – CPU and GPU Optimization
PowerDirector 8 lets you take full advantage of multiple processors, as well as your graphic card capitalizing on NVIDIA’s CUDA technology and ATI’s Stream technology. This ultimately ensures you spend less time waiting for the software and spend more time focusing on your project, as well as multi-tasking.

Director Zone
Cyberlink has its very own online community with over 180,000 registered members. DirectorZone is a place where you can download, upload, share, subscribe, and comment on other users’ effects. This resource in itself makes PowerDirector 8 a powerful application. With PowerDirector 8 you can upload projects to DirectorZone in the form of production maps. Sharing projects this way is a great way to learn.


Publishing Video!

Publishing video with PowerDirector 8 is easier than ever. You have the option of directly uploading video to your Facebook or YouTube account within PowerDirector’s interface. You also have the option of exporting back to your camera. Whether it’s DV, HDV, a hard disk drive-based camera or even a camera that records to SD cards, PowerDirector 8 will take care of it. Exporting to several file formats is available, including DivX (if preinstalled), HD-MPEG-2, DVR-MS, DV-AVI, DAT, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, VOB, VRO, ASF, WMV HD, MOV, MOD, TOD, AVCHD, MPEG-4, Tivo, WTV (single channel) and WMV. PowerDirector 8 has a built-in DVD authoring option where you can create your own menus, customize one of the templates or download a template from DirectorZone.

Bottom Line

PowerDirector 8 is a great tool for producing tricked out home movies or the hobbyist looking to become the next online sensation. It’s a great intermediate editing application to grow into that will give you some of the results that professional grade editing applications deliver. However, it does lack some of the more advanced features that editors require like multiple timelines. It also doesn’t have a lot of third party plug-in support that is found in most advanced applications. Although, DirectorZone makes up for much of this. If you’re still on the fence, however, you can download a free 30-day trial on Cyberlink’s website.

Tech Specs

Trial Version Available: Yes, 30 days

Operating System: Windows 7/Vista/XP

Minimum CPU: Pentium II 450 MHz or AMD Athlon 500 MHz

Minimum RAM: 512 MB (2GB recommended)

Minimum Hard Drive Space: 5GB

Capture Formats: HD MPEG-2, DVR-MS, DV-AVI, DAT, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, VOB, VRO with Dolby Digital 5.1/2.1, WMV, WMV-HD, MOV, MOD, live capture, TOD, AVCHD (M2T), MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), 3GPP2, DivX (on Windows 7) , WTV in H.264/MPEG2 (multiple video and audio streams), DSLR video in H.264 format with LPCM audio

Batch Capture: Yes

Automatic Scene Detection: Yes

User Interface: Yes

Number of Video Tracks: 9

Number of Audio Tracks: 4

Nesting Tracks: No

Audio/Video Level Envelopes: Yes

Audio Scrub: No

Keyframe Animation: Yes

Number of Video Transitions: 142

Number of Video Filters: 72

Realtime Software Previews: Yes

Optimized for Dual Processor/HyperThreading: Yes

Third-party Plug-in Support: No

Encoding Formats: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (with Dolby Digital 5.1), MOV, WMV, DV-AVI, QuickTime and RealMedia, iPod and PSP H.264 format, and MPEG-4.

Batch Render: No

DVD Authoring Software Included: Yes

Strengths

  • Ease of use
  • DirectorZone – great resources
  • Affordable

Weaknesses

  • Customizable Particle Generator, but not keyframable
  • Lacks reliability on longer projects

SUMMARY

PowerDirector is great for short films and home movies, and an excellent program to grow on. It’s a great intermediate editing program and holds its ground against other intermediate editing software.

Derek Sine is Videomaker’s Technical Editor.

Cyberlink Corporation

15F, #100, Minchiuan Road

Taipei 231, Taiwan

www.cyberlink.com

PowerDirector 8 Deluxe $70
PowerDirector 8 Ultra $100

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