More control is provided for the remaining two members of PowerTools. Video Crop is essentially a motion control applet. You can crop and rotate video, and every change can be keyframed. So you can follow the action within a frame or pan and scan a photo. Annoyingly, however, like Video Rotate it can only be used on the primary timeline track. Video Speed lets you change playback rate, and has the option to resample audio so that pitch is maintained as the clip plays faster or slower, although only up to certain levels. The speed algorithm also interpolates frames to smooth the jerks out of slow motion.
Particle Room is the other big effects addition. This goes much further than the particle filters included with previous versions of PowerDirector, which remain if you just want canned effects. If you need more customisation, however, Particle Room provides it in spades. This creates an animation you can add to a picture-in-picture track as a separate clip. Control parameters include the direction, emitter width and method, and style of the particles, although these are all global and cannot change during the animation. So if you want your emitter to move across the frame, you will need to apply further effects to the animation you have created.
One area of PowerDirector which hasn't received quite so much attention as others is the output stage. However, the software was already pretty well endowed in this respect. Internet upload options now include Facebook as well as YouTube, with 720p high definition templates provided for both. The DVD authoring interface now includes a structure view, which illustrates the interactive flow of your disc menus. Most other areas remain the same as before, apart from the graphics card encoding acceleration we have already mentioned.
With every version, CyberLink PowerDirector creeps inexorably closer to the competition. Version 8 is now mature enough to be a serious alternative to Adobe Premiere Elements 7, Corel VideoStudio Pro X2 or Pinnacle Studio 12. In testing with a late beta release, we found the software very stable, too. So whilst it still lacks some of the special features we mentioned in our verdict for version 7, PowerDirector 8 is very much worth considering. However, note that there are two editions, with Ultra being the only one able to handle AVCHD and burn Blu-ray discs. This is similarly priced to the most fully featured versions of the competition, so may not be enough to lure users of other apps away from their current software.