Aside from bringing in your own video, image and audio assets, you can also import from Flickr and Freesound (a royalty-free audio library) directly. Simply supply your login details for either service (or sign up when prompted), and you can then search their databases within PowerDirector, preview sounds and images, then download your choices straight into the media library. The Flickr connectivity gives you direct access to your own account, so you can bring in photos you uploaded. You can also choose the size to download. The Flickr access can be used without an account, too, and we found this was sometimes preferable as otherwise the applet kept expecting us to authorise its use on the Web, each time we accessed it.
PowerDirector has traditionally had a competitive level of support at import and export stages. Where it has fallen down in the past is the all-important middle stage - the editing itself. This is where CyberLink has focused most of its attention. In the past, you could only have one extra layer of video, and only one effect could be applied to a clip at once. This would also be static, with the same settings through each clip's duration.
With version 7, you can now have up to six Picture-in-Picture tracks, and layer seven effects. This is still a far cry from Adobe Premiere Elements, but it will be enough for most editing tasks. Best of all, effects can now be keyframed. So you can vary intensity at different points during a clip's duration. This is easily achieved using the Effects tab, which provides simple tools for adding keyframes and navigating between them.
Basic image enhancements are still found amongst PowerDirector's Magic functions. Magic Clean essentially includes colour correction tools, such as Lighting Adjustment which lets you adjust brightness. This also includes an Extreme Backlight setting, which can help you counteract the negative effects of shooting your subjects against a bright background. The Color Adjustment tool covers sharpness as well as brightness, contrast, hue and saturation. White Balance can be adjusted via colour temperature or picking white.
Magic Fix is simply CyberLink's name for video stabilisation, counteracting shaky camerawork. But this can now be adjusted for strength, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. However, whilst Magic Clean and Magic Fix can be used with other effects, the Magic Cut and Magic Style functions, which edit your video for you automatically, wipe out any effects and editing you previously applied. Unfortunately, the keyframing ability also hasn't been carried forward to the Magic tools.