- Review Price: £35.00
Like many of the other companies selling software DVD players, CyberLink also sells a simple movie disc authoring application. PowerProducer is its entrant, giving you simple drag and drop disc authoring for a small variety of disc types. DVD, miniDVD, VCD and SVCD are your disc format choices, with the GUI offering them to you in a simple wizard based fashion. You choose your disc format and the application lets you choose video from a variety of sources. You can add existing MPEG-2 video from DVDs or saved files on your hard disk, along with the DAT files that make up VideoCD and finally any supported AVI files that you have codecs installed for on your system.
When you’ve chosen your video, you opt for a menu style (only one ships with the default installation, so you’ll have to download more from the website if you want them) and click the burn disc icon. It’s as simple as that. PowerProducer’s ASPI based disc burning engine takes care of the rest, spitting out your chosen disc type when it’s finished.
It’s clear from the outset that PowerProducer is no Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro when creating the video to burn, the simple timeline of clips, no transitions and one-button drag and drop nature see to that, but for a beginner’s entry into disc and movie creation, it’s competent.
In terms of capturing video, it seems to be able to do direct raw DV capture using its own interface, along with the easier WM9 capture interface provided by that part of Microsoft’s media technologies. So it can pull video from a wide range of sources, increasing its usefulness. If you have a FireWire port on your PC, and many do these days, PowerProducer will be able capture video from your DV camcorder.
PowerProducer also has the ability to ‘pre-stage’ nearly done movie projects to DVD discs, usually a rewritable format such as DVD-RW, to save space on your hard disk, then re-manipulating them at a later date into completed projects, playable in your DVD player. A cool idea, allowing you to save some of the considerable disk space costs associated with re-coding movie data into MPEG-2 for DVD use, along with the original movie data in the first place, while you work on other projects in the meantime.
Finally, PowerProducer ships with a fairly comprehensive set of utilities for managing discs. Formatting, simple erasure, copying, saving to a disc image, burning from a disc image (a single, proprietary RDF format is all that’s supported) and burning a disc from a saved folder of VOBs are the provided utilities, allowing you simple disc management.
All in all, as a means to getting a feel for movie editing and disc creation on the PC, without stepping too far into the realm of the power user, PowerProducer does fine. However its user interface and limited scope for creating movies means that it’ll stay resolutely in the lower end of this sector of applications. Windows Movie Maker, a free application provided with Windows XP and Windows Me does much the same thing, making you question the £35.24 that Cyberlink is asking for this application.
If PowerProducer shows up in a bundle, most likely with PowerDVD, give it a shot if movie disc creation is something you want to get interested in, but don’t expect it to perform Hollywood-like miracles. Other, more appealing applications exist outside of bundle deals if you’re willing to spend just a bit more, SONIC MyDVD is one such example. You get what you pay for in the DVD authoring market. Competent but uninspiring, PowerProducer is a decent initial foray into disc creation but prepare to look elsewhere when you hit its limits.