Amazingly, for software starting at $70, CyberLink PowerDirector 13 is not anything like a simple "consumer" level video editor — in fact, like PowerDirector 12, PowerDirector 13 offers serious editing — including 2K/4K resolution, 100 tracks, titles and subtitles, customizable effects, overlay animation with motion blur, multicam cutting, hardware acceleration and much more.
Plus, CyberLink offers an entire suite of tools to work in concert with PowerDirector:
- PhotoDirector 6 provides photo editing and adjustment and background removal, including 64-bit support for RAW images and adds a clever Face Swap tool to merge multiple group shots and automatically pick the best faces.
- AudioDirector 5 provides round-trip audio editing, noise reduction and repair, including visual editing in frequency spectrum view and adds an amazing vocal transformer tool to alter vocals by gender and age (or like a robot or a duck).
- And for even more pro-quality results, CyberLink adds ColorDirector 3 for color grading, adjustments and effects. You can isolate objects, apply motion tracking and then change or enhance color. This release also adds split toning color to adjust shadows and highlights.
Both the new PowerDirector and ColorDirector have been enhanced to support H.265/HEVC for significantly improved compression beyond H.264, plus the new XAVC-S format for 4K and HD videos, as used in Sony cams.
So let's take a tour of PowerDirector for video editing, and check out some of the interesting new features in this release.
PowerDirector starts out with your choice of interface — Timeline, or a simpler Storyboard for more novice users, who also can take advantage of quick drag-and drop editing and built-in templates. The real power, however, is in the Timeline interface, starting with a traditional video editing look, complete with the Media Library at the top left and the detachable Preview window at the top right.
Down the left of the Media Library are icons for the different "Rooms" of editing elements — Media Library, Effects, PiP (picture in picture) Object Overlays, Particle Animations, Titles, Transitions, Audio Mixing, Voice-Over Recording, Disc Chapters and Subtitles. What makes PowerDirector especially interesting is that these are not just fixed collections of presets — instead, you can design and save your own elements.
The new Transition Designer is especially interesting. You can import any image to use its grey levels to control the transition shape, and then animate with keyframe controls. Similarly, use the new Title Designer to build your own animated titles with keyframe controls and even motion blur. You can now also add video effects on titles.
The top of the Media Library window also has an icon for Plug-ins, including the Theme Designer for animated slideshows and the MultiCam Designer. PowerDirector sets up the multicam interface directly in the timeline — you synchronize up to four clips by audio or timecode, and then switch between them like a live camera switcher. When you're done, the result is in the timeline ready to add to your production, and you then can delete the original clips.
Next, there's the Timeline itself, with buttons across the top to provide access to various editing tools in lieu of a large palette of icons. For video clips, these include editing (Split, Trim, Delete and Modify properties/motion/mask), Fix/Enhance (passing clips to ColorDirector) and Audio Edit (passing clips to Audio Director).
PowerDirector 13 offers serious, professional editing.
PowerDirector has more than 100 video editing tools, so there's plenty of other options under a collection of Power Tools (Crop, Rotation Speed and Reverse play including slow-mo), plus a More button for a variety of other editing operations, including more sophisticated operations such as Beat Detection and Content Aware Editing. This analyzes your footage to identify both important shots (speech, faces, zoom, pan or motion) and imperfect shots (poor lighting, shaky), for which it can apply auto enhancement.
Also under Fix/Enhance is the Video Stabilizer, now enhanced to better handle difficult hand-held and action cam footage with rotation and shakiness across multiple axes.
Cloud and Mobile
CyberLink also makes extensive use of online resources for its tools, including the DirectorZone online community that you can use to share and download more than 480,000 free objects and templates and access product tutorials.
This release also builds in support for the CyberLink Cloud service, so you can save your projects and associated media online. The product comes with one year of service with 10GB of storage, and 20GB with the suites.
CyberLink also has expanded its use of mobile devices with the free PowerDirector Mobile and PhotoDirector Mobile apps for Windows 8 and Android. With PowerDirector Mobile, you can do drag-and-drop storyboard or even timeline editing on a tablet — edit and trim, apply more than 60 video effects and transitions, add titles, photos and audio and then upload directly to Facebook and YouTube. On Windows 8, you also can save and export projects for further editing in PowerDirector.
PowerDirector is available in several versions, as well as bundled in suites with the other CyberLink media tools and packs of effects and templates. The basic PowerDirector 13 Deluxe is priced at $70 for up to 2K editing and the full PowerDirector 13 Ultra is $100, adding 4K and 3D support, Blu-ray authoring, multicam features, content-aware editing, full HD quality previews and CyberLink Cloud support. Then PowerDirector 13 Ultimate for $130 adds additional NewBlue Video and other effects and templates.
The PowerDirector 13 Ultimate Suite for video editing for $250 adds ColorDirector, AudioDirector and additional cloud storage. The full Director Suite 3 for $300 then adds PhotoDirector.
You also can subscribe to Director Suite Live, with all four tools for $50 for three months or $100 per year, including a free automatic upgrade to the latest new version.
CyberLink has lived up to the "power" name by continuing to expand PowerDirector as a high-quality tool with impressive performance and flexibility at consumer pricing. The full suite further enhances the package, with sophisticated audio and photo editing, plus even color correction. Download the 30-day trial and try it out for yourself.
$ 70 – PowerDirector 13 Deluxe
$100 – PowerDirector 13 Ultra
$130 – PowerDirector 13 Ultimate
$250 – PowerDirector 13 Ultimate Suite (incl. PowerDirector 13, ColorDirector 3, AudioDirector 5)
$300 – Director Suite 3 (incl. PowerDirector 13, ColorDirector 3, AudioDirector 5, PhotoDirector 6)
Trial Version Available
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8/8.1, 7, Vista (SP2)
Minimum CPU: Optimized for CPUs with MMX / SSE/SSE2 / 3DNow!/3DNow! Extension / HyperThreading / Intel AVX2 technology
Minimum RAM: 2GB required; 3GB or above recommended for 32 bit OS; 6GB or above recommended for 64 bit OS & 3D editing
Minimum Hard Drive Space for Installation: 8.5GB required minimum
Capture Formats: DV25, DV50, Analog Capture Cards, MicroMV, DVD Camcorders, HD Ready, Analog TV tuner, PC capture, DV/DVD Camcorders, DSLR, etc.
- Powerful and flexible video editing at consumer pricing
- New useful technology: action cam stabilization, custom transitions and titles
- Integrated editing with ColorDirector and AudioDirector
- Sometimes difficult to find a specific tool among so many options
- Missing some important features like nested timelines
Doug Dixon covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.