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CyberLink PowerDirector 7 - CyberLink PowerDirector 7

By James Morris

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The Picture-in-Picture tracks are now equipped with a much more powerful motion control applet. This allows you to use a shape as a border, although not a custom one. Alongside the preset motion paths, you can also now fully customise the paths, adding keyframes, although there is no control over how the motion eases in and out of keyframes. So it's not as powerful as Adobe Premiere Elements' motion control, but is pretty easy to use and another welcome addition. You can also save your motion control settings as a new preset, and even share them via CyberLink's new DirectorZone community. It's a shame filter effects can't also be saved out in this way.

The motion control applet is now much more powerful, and even allows you to save and share your customised motion paths.

Subtitling is another new area for PowerDirector. These appear as a track in the timeline, and can be easily lined up to coincide with dialogue using the tools available in the Subtitle Room tab. The Slideshow Designer is also new, and here CyberLink has gone further than most applications. It's still a template-driven process, with seven initial options. But Cyberlink has created much more elaborate image slideshows than can be found in most applications, using segmented screens and animations. Some templates have Advanced settings that provide a fair amount of user customisation, too. Photo animation can also be made to match the music you choose, using CyberLink's own automated detection algorithms. However, slideshows can only be created on the first video track.

The new Slideshow Designer can create elaborate still image animations, with some templates offering user customisation.

As hinted earlier, the output stage has been one of PowerDirector's stronger areas for some time, with its early adoption of new file formats. This aspect of version 7 hasn't changed much. The Produce tab calls up a wizard with six options. You can write back to DV and HDV tape. Streaming video can be encoded in WMV, RealVideo and QuickTime formats, although it's not possible to edit the presets provided for each. But writing to other video file formats is not confined to presets. You can choose between AVIs, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and three flavours of MPEG-4 - DivX, PSP/iPod compatible, and AVCHD - with full control over each codec's settings.

Output options are comprehensive, including recording back to DV and HDV tape, plus most common video file formats and uploading to YouTube.

CyberLink even includes the ability to write back to a hard disk-based camcorder, but only if it was made by JVC. Unsurprisingly, you can also upload straight to your YouTube account, as with the previous version. If the output format you choose is the same as the clips being edited, you can toggle SVRT smart rendering, so only changed sections are actually rendered. This now includes support for H.264-based files, although only with the Ultra version of PowerDirector as the Deluxe one can't write back to this format.

Disc creation has its own section, and can burn video to DVD, SVCD, VCD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray on DVD, and AVCHD. The authoring tools are extensive, but haven't changed much in the last few versions, apart from the ability to share and download custom menus via the CyberLink DirectorZone.

Verdict

CyberLink PowerDirector 7 still misses a few tricks compared to competitors from Adobe, Ulead, and Pinnacle. It doesn't have anywhere near the level of control of Adobe Premiere Elements 4, and lacks a few features found in Ulead VideoStudio and Pinnacle Studio, such as the latter's excellent 5.1 Surround Sound editor, or the former's DeBlock and DeSnow filters. But all the major components of a serious videomaking contender are now there. At last, PowerDirector is worth considering alongside the mainstream alternatives.

Overall Score

8

Carol

August 17, 2008, 9:57 pm

Does this new version allow for the most basic of video editing: mixing two camera shots of the same event (like a concert) to sync to a single audio track, be it the track from one of the videos or a separate audio. Of course, without a professional time tracking codes, a really fine job would be impossible. But "good enough." This would entail being able to see the multiple tracks playing at the same time or perhaps syncing to the wave form of the two audio tracks. So many of these mid level video editing programs give hundreds of transitions we really don't use. PIP isn't IT, exactly, though I imagine if I enlarged the area of the PIP to fill the entire screen. The other troublesome element of this, which I found using iMovie (and it was just alternative shot), is if you cross dissolve to the alternative track, it layers the sound as well, cross dissolving both shots visually and audiowise. One wants to keep core video going, always in sync with the audio track, and then play with two-track cross dissolves above it. Who really needs PIPs to do cartwheels and float around, when this basic video editing element is missing. Or IS it on this program? Possible?

Geoff Harper

September 8, 2008, 8:21 pm

No one else ever commented on this one? Carol has described EXACTLY what I need to do. I currently have V6 and am struggling a bit. Does no one have any suggestions?

RRP

December 24, 2008, 12:21 pm

I'm no expert but here is what I would try.





Download a copy of the free VirtualDub program. Load video 1 into VirtualDub. In the audio menu set the audio to none and save as AVI. Do the same with video 2. Pick whichever video has the better audio and save the audio separately. You end up with 2 new video files containing video and no audio and 1 file containing just the audio. Then in PowerDirector (or whatever editor you have) import video and audio tracks. Switch video tracks to your hearts content. Since the video tracks have no audio the single audio track plays by itself.





There may be easier solutions (eg. can you just mute the audio in your video tracks in the editor and use that with a separate audio track?). I have not done any video editing for a few years, but am getting back into it so I just ordered PD7 based on the reviews I've read here and elsewhere.

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