On this page and the next you will find my CyberLink PowerDirector 14 review in all its long and rambling glory.
As much as possible in this review I have tried to restrict myself to just covering the important points, but each year that task gets more and more difficult.
Consumer level video editing programs like PowerDirector now pack so many features and functions inside them that going through them all can turn into a career instead of a review.
So whether you are a complete newbie, an existing owner of a previous version or someone that has been searching for so long and are so confused they are just staring blankly at a computer screen in a daze, hopefully you can find what you are looking for here.
If you are the person who has almost given up on trying to work out which editor to get and simply can’t bear reading another article on yet another product then relax.
You are totally safe to get this one knowing this Cyberlink product is still the best in its class and has been for years.
If you already have a current version and are trying to work out whether or not you should upgrade then keep reading this page of the review to see the new features.
Remember to keep your emotions in check and ask yourself whether these new features are something you would actually use and not just things that look really cool and awesome! (Because some of them are very cool and very awesome!)
If you have only just begun your search for a suitable video editor and want all the information, then just go through this page and the next to get a clear picture of CyberLink PowerDirector 14 and how it stacks up.
So before we get into it all let’s just cut to the chase.
My Overall Take on the Program
CyberLink PowerDirector has been my top choice for editing software for many years now and with this new release nothing has changed in that regard.
Everything you could possibly want in a video editing suite (and probably a bunch of stuff you never thought of) is available in PowerDirector and I find it hard to imagine anything they have left out.
It is kind of pointless to review the actual editing capabilities of the software because the program does it all and does it all very, very well.
It cuts, slices, dices and chops with ease and eats up the modern highly compressed video files effortlessly because behind the pretty face lies an editing and rendering engine with serious credentials.
In fact about four years after shooting to the lead in the speed stakes it still comfortably occupies first place.
These days however, no-one is expecting a video editor to just edit videos!
PowerDirector is a complete and self contained end-to-end multimedia solution that would serve anyone perfectly now and well into the future.
My CyberLink PowerDirector 14 Review
To get things rolling check out this promotional video from CyberLink to get an overall feel for the new software.
Remember! It is a promotional video so bear that in mind when the cheese factor gets a little high!
More importantly take note that the video itself was created using CyberLink PowerDirector 14.
PowerDirector 14 is being offered by CyberLink at 5 separate levels and as with all things in life you get what you pay for.
At the top of the heap is the software as part of an overall specialist package they call Director Suite which is aimed at the serious enthusiast through to the professional level.
This is their suite of high end tools and programs that go beyond just video editing into audio production, image editing and color grading.
For a more complete look at this you can see my overview of it here. Director Suite Review
This is the “Ultimate” version of the program offered in conjunction with Audio Director for advanced audio editing and Color Director for color grading and correction.
Ultimate / Ultra / Deluxe
These are the standalone versions of PowerDirector 14 that come with different levels of features and extras depending on which one suits your needs.
At the top of the heap we have the Ultimate version which comes with everything and the kitchen sink.
Included are all the new features as well as the ability to handle the new HD formats such as 4K HD, H.265, XAVC-s, 3D, DTS audio and Blu-ray discs authoring and more.
With this one you also get the full complement of third party add-on effects and filters from NewBlue and ProDAD.
As you drop down to the Ultra version you basically get all the same features except that you lose some of the NewBlue add-ons.
Finally at the bottom is the Deluxe version which covers everything you would need for basic video editing and the production of your projects in common formats.
At the Deluxe level you do lose the ability to author Blu-ray discs, all the added 3rd party effects as well as the capability of handling the more exotic high definition files.
Just bear in mind that as you move down the versions you are not losing any editing capability, you are just forgoing some of the more advanced features and extras that some people may not use anyway.
You can click through to the full comparison chart below but my recommendation would be to go for either the Ultimate or Ultra version.
New and or Improved Main Features
Each year when all the editing software companies release new versions there are always new features.
The quality of the software and the company behind it can usually be determined by a close inspection of those new features because they always fall into two distinct categories.
1. Mindless wizzbangery with lots of color and motion to dazzle you into a purchase or create the feeling that you need to keep up because somehow you are missing out on something.
2. Genuinely valuable additions to the functionality of the software intended to extend the capabilities of the program or enhance the user experience.
Fortunately Cyberlink have consistently fallen into the latter category over the years and PowerDirector 14 is no exception.
These are the new features of the program with my opinion of their true value.
Let’s be honest here, a good quality screen recording program with full editing capability and all the bells and whistles will set you back around $300.
PowerDirector 14 now comes with its own integrated screen recorder so you can record whatever you are doing on your computer screen to make DIY videos, demo videos or record game play.
You can record the system audio at the same time as well as a running commentary then have the video file that is created sent directly to PowerDirector for editing.
The recorder runs as a standalone program so you can use the PowerDirector screen recorder to record video of you using PowerDirector!
CyberLink describe this as “a handy tool,” I am not really sure they understand just how good it is.
You can capture everything on the screen as it is happening, a specific application only, or a custom section of your screen in either 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, as well as highlight mouse clicks in a range of colors.
TrueVelocity 5 Engine
OK this is about as unsexy as new features can get yet I love it, I’ll try to explain.
TrueVelocity is a technology that CyberLink developed a while back because of the emergence of modern, highly compressed video codecs.
Up until MPEG2 the compression of video files largely occurred from within the codec itself and so was relatively easy on computer resources.
When the H.264 (MP4) codec came along and everything moved to high definition, things changed dramatically.
To cut a (very) long story short, the additional processing power required to handle these new formats was thrown on to the computer causing all sorts of crashing and lagging problems.
CyberLink’s answer was to develop their own editing engine to work out exactly what resources are available on any given machine and how best to assign work to those resources.
What it boils down to is that PowerDirector works out how much available processing power you have from the CPU as well as any other available processing resources such as the processor on your graphics card.
It factors in the available RAM then works out the best possible strategy for using all of these resources in the most efficient manner.
This year they have reworked this feature completely and have based it fully on 64bit architecture.
The result being faster, smoother editing with even faster rendering times than before.
SVRT 4 Technology
SVRT (Smart Video Rendering Technology) is a proprietary technology developed by CyberLink that addresses two main problems presented by modern video files.
The first being that whenever an already compressed video file is recompressed or even re-rendered with only minor changes, there will be a loss of quality.
Secondly, that the nature of modern video files is that they throw all the heavy lifting on to the resources of the computer rather than handling it within the codec so rendering becomes an overnight experience.
SVRT gets around this by first scanning any project prior to rendering and establishing which parts of the project actually need to be rendered and which parts need to just be copied.
In conjunction with the TrueVelocity engine the result is faster rendering times all round.
Import/Export High Frame Rate Video
This addition is in response to the proliferation of action type cams that are dominating the market at the moment.
Most of these cams can capture high definition footage at very high frame rates. The purpose of this is so that the footage can be played back in slow motion without losing any image quality.
CyberLink have responded to this by extending the program’s capabilities to accommodate these types of files so they can be imported, edited and rendered back out at the same high frame rate they were taken at.
FLAC Audio Support
OK, FLAC audio is a kind of geeky type of audio file that many claim to be far superior to others when it comes to sound quality.
PowerDirector 14 can now handle these files if that sort of thing is what you are into.
H.265/HEVC Import and Export
H.265 or HEVC is the next generation of highly compressed video files we will be dealing with in the near future.
The claim is that it delivers a files size at about 32% of the size of a comparable H.264 (MP4) files at the same quality.
Not really mainstream yet but good to see CyberLink are getting in early for it.
Action Camera Center
Continuing on in the action cam vein an entirely new module has been added specifically for action cam footage and it’s particular quirks.
First up a set of editing tools suited to the kind of editing style many action cam footage projects use.
Stuff like freeze frames, extreme slow motion, crazy zooming and all that other “actiony” stuff that seems to go with the territory.
Action cams in general also suffer from some key problems that are inherent to their design formats or the conditions under which they are used.
The main offenders are fish-eye distortion because of their wide-angle lenses, camera shake because they are mostly handheld, color problems and exposure problems because due to conditions like snow or being underwater.
The tools needed to quickly correct these things are all located within the new module for easy access.
Check out the video below for a better idea of what it does.
Motion Tracking (Moving Paths)
Motion tracking or creating moving paths of objects or people within footage has always been a royal pain in the butt.
Most of the top end video editors have offered the capability of doing it manually for a while now, PowerDirector included BUT!
In order to do it you have to go to the first frame of the footage and click on the thing you want to track.
Then you have to advance the footage until that thing has moved away from the original spot and click it again, then advance, click, advance, click, advance, click on and on and on until you have either done it or have gone totally crazy in the process.
Behold the new module in all its glory in the video below… I think I’m going to cry.
PowerDirector has always had a module within it called “Easy Editor.”
The easy editor is still included and is exactly what it sounds like, an easy editor.
This year they have added “Express Projects” which could also be called “Even Easier Editor!”
Basically it is a project template driven system where you are presented with three placeholders all having the same theme.
For example for a travel video you could choose the Round the World template.
All you have to do is drag the “Round the World Opening” template on to the timeline, adjust it and add your own assets, then do the same with the “Round the World Middle” template and finally the “Round the World Ending” template.
For some it may be the greatest thing since sliced bread… for me not so much.
In part two of the review I will go over the existing features, functionality and performance of the program.
Next Page: CyberLink PowerDirector 14 Review Part 2