In our review of the best video editing software, Cyberlink PowerDirector 12 Deluxe came out on top, winning the TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award. And it does so for good reason. PowerDirector encapsulates everything we look for in video editing software. It’s easy to use for beginners and amateurs but has the powerful tools that enthusiasts and professionals want.
This is a difficult balance to strike, but Cyberlink has spent the better part of a decade honing and refining PowerDirector toward users who are not professionals, but have a need for video editing software. The result is an application that both newbie and veteran alike can work on with little difficulty.
The latest release of PowerDirector improves many of the tools and features that have kept it on top of our side-by-side comparison chart for more than a decade. Probably the most noticeable is the latest incarnation of TrueVelocity, which Cyberlink claims is the “world’s fastest video editing engine.”
It also introduces new features – the most useful of which is the new Theme Designer. This tool enables users with no experience whatsoever in video editing to create beautiful, compelling projects in minutes, not hours. It does this by boiling down the entire editing process in to three simple steps, and because their own content is being used, users have a feeling of ownership and accomplishment in these easy-to-make videos.
When you launch PowerDirector, you’re greeted with a screen that asks you to select how you want to use the video editing software. You have three options: the Full Feature Editor, the Easy Editor and the Slideshow Creator. This screen is new to PowerDirector 12 and encapsulates the approach that Cyberlink took when creating the program: accessible to beginners but retaining the power needed by experts.
The Full Feature Editor is everything we’ve come to expect from a top-notch nonlinear video editing application. The placement of the media bins, timeline, storyboard and preview windows make best use of the available on-screen real estate. You can, of course, customize all these windows to your liking. Additionally, PowerDirector allows you to have up to 100 tracks for your audio, video, transitions and effects. This is far more than most users will ever use for consumer-level video editing software, but it provides the space and flexibility needed to create complex projects.
The Easy Editor is exactly what it sounds like: an easy-to-use, basic video editor. This shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that it lacks power or functionality. In fact, the opposite is true. The Easy Editor makes use of what Cyberlink calls MagicMovie, which has been a hallmark of the PowerDirector brand for the better part of a decade. The editing environment in the Easy Editor is reduced to the most fundamental basics, but it does so in a way that is intuitive and instructive. If you’re new to video editing, PowerDirector may best serve you if you edit your first few projects in the Easy Editor while you learn the ropes, before graduating to the Full Feature Editor.
The Slideshow Creator is arguably the easiest editing environment Cyberlink has ever offered for public consumption. The slideshow creation process couldn’t be simpler: pick the kind of slideshow you want, then images you want to include. PowerDirector does the rest. Within minutes, you have a handsome slideshow that you can share with family and friends.
The most basic feature of any movie editing software is timeline. This is where you put your video clips, sound files, transitions, images and everything else that goes into project. As such, this is where the magic really happens. However, in the past few years an alternative to the timeline has developed: the storyboard. Storyboards serve the same basic function as a timeline, but the workflow is marginally different. PowerDirector allows you to switch back and forth between these two movie-editing modes with your changes intact. We really enjoy this flexibility for users to work with whichever editing environment they wish.
PowerDirector 12 Deluxe comes loaded with a library of more than 300 effects and transitions. These included effects will suit nearly any video project you’re likely to work with in consumer-level video editing software. If by chance you cannot find the right effect or transition for your project, the DirectorZone has excellent resources for custom (and free) resources.
Advanced features found in PowerDirector include Key Framing, Chroma Key (green screen), Hand-paint Animation, TrueTheater Enhancement and much more. There isn’t enough room in this brief review to get into all of these advanced features. Suffice it to say that these are powerful tools that are used regularly by Hollywood professionals to create blockbuster movies. If there is something you need to do a piece of video or audio, PowerDirector is likely able to handle it with no problems.
The only reason to make a video with PowerDirector is so that an audience can enjoy it. These days, the most effective way to reach that audience is to upload your finished project to the web. PowerDirector has multiple options to publish straight to popular sharing services such as YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and Daily Motion. The benefit of sharing a project directly from the a video editing application is that it saves a great deal of time that would otherwise be spent manually uploading individual files via a web service’s own interface.
Of course, there are times when you’ll want to have a physical copy of your video project on a disc. PowerDirector has excellent disc burning options available. In fact, the disc authoring features found in this video editing application could stand alone as its own program. This is because Cyberlink included a well-crafted Menu Designer that allows you to construct a disc with menus, chapters, subtitles, bonus content and every other extra feature you see in a movie you buy from your local entertainment store.
Even though PowerDirector is extremely accessible to new users, video editing is a task that is often tedious, time-consuming and difficult to learn. Cyberlink understands this and provides hours of free training on its website for PowerDirector. Furthermore, there are masses of free tutorials and instructions on how to make the most of your PowerDirector purchase on free sites such as YouTube. If you have a question, are stuck or simply want to improve your skills, the solution is as simple as opening your internet browser.
If you’re not satisfied with video tutorials, Cyberlink hosts an excellent online community called the Director Zone. This is where creative people like you can go to chat, collaborate and share their artistic efforts. You’ll have to sign up for the Director Zone to get a full idea of everything it has to offer.
At the end of the day, there isn’t much to dislike about Cyberlink PowerDirector 12 Deluxe. It manages to give everyone what he or she wants. For learners, it’s an easy-to-use application that allows them to take their first steps into a world where only their imagination limits them. To veteran craftsmen, it offers the powerful tools required to create finely honed pieces of art.
PowerDirector walks the delicate balance between casual user and expert with precision. The software is easy to use without sacrificing the tools and features needed to make it truly useful.
This video editing software is not available for Apple users.
Cyberlink’s latest incarnation of its signature product continues a decade-long tradition of excellence in design, powerful tools and intuitive workflows. PowerDirector will make any video editor happy.