Cyber Link’s Power Director is designed as a miniature post-production studio that handles all phases of film making. Despite the severe abbreviation of the standard version, there’s plenty to dig into. Cyber link has added new tools to Power Director 14 to help fans get the most out of the footage from those devices. Not only can the video-editing software correct the drastic distortion of such cameras, but it can easily add cool effects like motion tracking and freeze frame. But that’s just icing on Power Director’s cake of fast, powerful video-editing tools. Power Director remains the prosumer video editing software to beat, even when pitted against bigger competitors.
The most recent Deluxe version introduces Express Projects, which helps novice moviemakers quickly whip up their first video. It also offers improved performance — when it is working with the WMV format — as well as new FLAC and H.264 import and export features.
Sadly, the low-end Deluxe version does not support new headliner features such as the Action Camera Center or Motion Tracking — for those, you’ll have to shell out $30 more. There’s no 4K or multicam support, either, unlike comparable consumer titles such as Adobe Premiere Elements and Corel VideoStudio Pro X9.
Pricing and Installation
You can try out the software with a 30-day downloadable trial version that adds brand watermarks. Editions range from the limited $69.99 Deluxe to the Director Suite 3 bundle ($249.99) which bundles audio, color, and photo software as well as New Blue Video Essential 7 effects. You can now also buy this as a subscription for $49.99 for three months or $99.99 per year. I tested the $129.99 Ultimate edition.
Installing the program takes up nearly a gigabyte of your hard drive, so be sure to use a machine with room to spare. And have some time, too: It took about 12 minutes to install the program on my 3.4GHz quad-core PC with 8GB RAM and an Nvidia Quadra 2000 graphics adapter, running Windows 10. The installer no longer tries to add extra unrelated apps alongside the video editor, which makes me happy.
Cyber link continues to modernize the user interface. This time it’s even simpler, though it’s not quite as unintimidating as that of Adobe Premiere Elements. Power Director maintains the traditional source and preview split panels on the top, with your track timeline along the whole width of the bottom of the screen. The storyboard view in this new version finally gets some functionality instead of just being clip thumbnails you can drag around. You can now drag transitions between clips, apply effects, and add audio clips without switching to timeline view. I also like the new buttons at the top for showing just video, just photos, or just audio in the source panel.
Near-Pro-level Video Editing
If you’re into keyframe editing (which allows precise control over when effects begin and end based on exact frames you choose) PowerDirector is there for you. It offers picture-in-picture (PiP), overlays, motion, cropping, and time codes. All effects and adjustments can be pegged to keyframes. You get over 100 transitions and special effects to choose from, including ten from NewBlue. And now the app lets you install third-party effect plug-ins from Pixelan and ProDAD.
Transitions are easy to add, and the program can decide what material before and after to use when you drop this kind of effect to a join line between clips. A search box lets you find a specific type, like Page Curl. And you can even create custom transitions using your images with the Alpha set of transitions, which rely on masking and transparency. It’s fun making a transition out of a friend’s head, as shown below.
Competing video consumer video editing packages like and Adobe Premiere Elements have offered motion tracking for a couple years. This technique lets an object, text, or effect follow around something moving in your video. You pick the Motion Tracker choice from the same Tools menu as the Action Camera, after selecting a clip in the timeline. The tool makes tracking an object and adding a title, effect, or even another media clip a simple three-step process. You start by positioning a target box on the object you want tracked, then press the Track button, which runs through the video while following your boxed object. And then you choose what you want to follow the tracked object.
Unfortunately, the tracker lost track of my subject’s face when he turned around, but this is a common limitation in such tools. I fixed this pretty easily by stopping the tracking, realigning the box, and starting tracking again. It’s easier to get a track correct than in Corel VideoStudio$74.99 at Amazon, but that program does a better job of following objects in difficult settings, for example if they passed behind a pole. Adobe Premiere Elements’ motion tracking also lost track of a skateboarder in my test footage when he passed behind a pole.
Cyber Link’s investment in 64-bit optimizations and graphics hardware acceleration has paid off. Other speed-boosters include Open CL (Open Computing Language) support and “intelligent SVRT,” which determines how your clips should be rendered for the best-quality output and fastest editing. In my latest round of performance testing, the program remains the fastest among its peers.
In a head-to-head rendering performance test, I took a movie consisting of the same four clips of mixed types (some 1080p, some SD) with the same transitions and rendered it to 720p MPEG4 format in each program at 60FPS with a bitrate of 20 Mbps. I used a 3.4 GHz AMD quad-core Windows 10 Pro with 8GB DDR3 RAM and an Nvidia Quadro 2000 graphics adapter. Power Director took 6 minutes and 21 seconds on this test, which compares with 7:35 for the same project in market-leading Premiere Elements and 7:48 in Corel’s excellent Video Studio Pro X8.5. But if I selected the SVRT3 button, which switches some video-format settings, the time in Power Director improved to a ridiculously fast 2:15, while increasing the bitrate to 24Kbps. This works by only processing parts of the clip that have actually been edited.
Power Director is the clear speed leader: Its render speed with Open CL acceleration enabled is nothing short of astonishing. During rendering, Power Director also shows you the time elapsed, time remaining, and what frame in the movie you’re at during the process.