Cyberlink PowerDirector 12

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I have been reviewing CyberLink’s PowerDirector video editing application series since version 10, and quickly became a fan. The program provides an amazing amount of prosumer-category power and sophistication and is a real value at $99.00 or less. Note that several versions, suites and promo packages of this product are available, and cost is dependent upon what you select. PowerDirector 12 is available for Windows 7, 8 and Vista as well as for Windows XP (SP3).

Launching PowerDirector 12 presents the familiar look and feel of prior versions, with some minor logo and other presentation differences. Clean, organized and colorful with operational features available across skill levels, ranging from the casual to pro level enthusiast. Full Feature Editor, Easy Editor, and Slideshow Creator are mode choices presented when initially launching PD12. A checkbox selection sets the program to always launch in a particular mode, although easily changeable. Also a choice is given to edit in 16:9 High-Definition or 4:3 Standard quality modes. Audio tools and editing are built-in.

Features and tools are logically located on the GUI interface screen, and I find them to be very reliable. By this I mean that when making a feature selection, it just ‘works’ out of the box. Some other editors plague the user with pop-ups saying that something more is needed to run this or that module. This can range from Java or DirectX to a range of other required items. PD12 just runs the function you select, which is a pleasure and time saver.

 

 Power Director 12 Timeline

Main PD12 GUI

When comparing PD12 to its predecessors, the GUI throughout is generally similar. The real differences and improvements aren’t readily apparent, with some being under the hood.

 

Power Director 12 MultiCam Designer
MultiCam Designer Screen

 

MultiCam Designer
One cool new capability is MultiCam Designer. This is an advanced feature that’s fun to experiment with, although the end result is of pro caliber. It allows the on-the-fly switching of up to 4 video sources which outputs into a single video file. This approximates the live video camera switching done in TV and movie production studios. While this does not work with live input of multiple cameras, it does load 4 separate video clips into a matrix display of  windows. Tools are present to view and edit each clip, and to best synchronize them for on-the-fly combing into one video. An audio selection feature lets you select which source to draw the event’s sound from. The assumption is that multiple cameras simultaneously recorded the same event from different angles and decent audio, and that combing them with proper timing and synchronization will allow the final product to look like a “switched” recording. The feature is GUI driven and relatively easy to use. The caveat is you must plan in advance of your shoot so that multiple cameras simultaneously record the action.

 

Theme Designer
Another new addition to PowerDirector is Theme Designer, which lets the user automatically apply a look and feel to an entire production. Essentially template driven, Theme Designer assembles the project’s video elements into a seamless movie including titling, special effects,  transitions, backgrounds, music, etc. Video and photos are easily inserted into template slots at the points they are to appear in the movie. Automation of the clip assembly process is available to quickly develop a themed production. PD12 comes with one theme installed. Several additional themes are available by download with the likelihood of more becoming available.

Enhancements
PD12 touts several enhancements and capabilities which place it on the category border of pro-sumer and pro. Many of the features and quality are close to pro level, at a low cost suitable to the consumer. These include keyframe editing (a precise timing and sync method), chroma-key editing (allows the silhouetted placement of objects from one clip over another … e.g. – a person over a landscape or background that wasn’t actually in the shot), Lens-Flare, and analysis and correction tools to ensure a satisfactory production. Also PD12 capabilities include 4K and 3D editing and production, as well as Blue-Ray disc authoring. 

Of note is an area where PowerDirector was already a leader … speed of creation of the final output file from the edited project. PD12 incorporates several acceleration techniques and tricks, which results in amazing fast creation of output, even when working with complex HD and 4K source material. Of course much of this acceleration is hardware dependent so performance may vary depending upon system configuration, video capabilities and compatibility. In fact, marketing material cites that some file creation tasks are up to 40% faster than prior PD versions.

 

Power Director 12 Production GUI
PD12 Video Production Screen

As is the case with PD12 predecessors, the program edits and produces in wide range of SD and HD formats, with multiple flavors of each being selectable. A plethora of DVD, Blue-Ray, web and computer capable formats are present. PD12 can also output for mobile device use.

 

Power Director 12 Disc Creation GUI
Disc Creation Interface

Take-Away
PowerDirector 12 is an advanced video editing product with a multitude of up-to-date and in-demand features. Its interface suites a wide range of user skill levels, and its ability to automate various editing processes boosts its appeal to those wanting to produce quality home and business videos without the need for extensive editing knowledge and skills. This doesn’t detract from the near-pro user’s ability with PD12 to tightly and precisely control the editing process. While several aspects of the product could be further improved, such as the limited storyboard feature and the somewhat confusing, although robust, Magic Music feature, the overall product is well matured, solid and cutting-edge. The availability of an online support web site and availability of material shared across a large group of PowerDirector users adds to the products appeal. And all of this is at a cost in the $100 range … pretty exceptional.

 

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