On this page and the next you will find my CyberLink PowerDirector 16 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 or someone who is now 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 review 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 16 and how it stacks up.
So before we get into the PowerDirector 16 review itself 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 six 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 16 Review
Let’s get things rolling by checking 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 if you feel you are getting a little excited!
More importantly take note that the video itself was created using CyberLink PowerDirector 16.
New and or Improved Main Features
Last year and again this year, CyberLink have concentrated most of their development efforts towards the action cam and 360º video markets although that by no means sums up this years added features.
PowerDirector long ago achieved the ability to deal with modern digital editing at a basic level as well as offering very powerful post production features.
It makes complete sense for them to now stay on the front foot with regard to the changes that will be happening next year and beyond.
360º Video Tools
360º Video Stabilization
Currently most decent video editing programs can handle 360º video without too much trouble however it is an enormously resource intensive activity unto itself.
No-one has really been able to allow the user at the consumer level to manipulate these files to any large degree.
The added strain on most computers would have just proven too much… until now.
One of PowerDirector’s greatest strengths over the years has been the ability to squeeze every last drop of performnace out of any computer it is situated on.
CyberLink have leveraged that ability into now allowing for the first time at the consumer level of the market the ability to apply stabilization to 360º video footage.
360º Video Titles
Allows you to now add titles to 360º videos without those titles being distorted or getting out of position within the 360º space.
360º Video Object Tracking
Add the ability for you to track objects within a 360º space just as easily as it is to do the same with standard 2D proejcts.
Color Grading, Correction and Enhancement Tools
Color Grading with LUTs
So I guess first up we have clarify what a LUT is!
LUT stand for LookUp Table and is simply a set of preset color adjustments that can be applied to footage in one go without having to fiddle around with individual color adjustment controls.
LUTs come in many forms and for many purposes and can be applied to footage to achieve an overall effect or color grade.
There are LUTs that are based on actual camera models where the characteristics of that camera is a known factor so the LUT can be applied to correct or change that particular camera’s footage “look.”
They are a convenient and quick method that the pros use to match footage from one source to another in order to achieve a particular effect throughout a video.
Previously in PowerDirector LUTs could only be used if you also happened to have an advanced version that included the ColorDirector module.
This year they have added the ability to apply LUTs to the basic color adjustemnt and correction module contained within PowerDirector itself.
Along with the newly added LUT capability CyberLink have further enhanced the color correction module with a Color Match tool.
The tool analyzes your video footage and adjusts lighting, saturation, and color variables to achieve a consistent look across an entire clip.
It can be used to match shots that were taken in different conditions by the same camera or match shots taken by different cameras altogether.
Split toning is a way of adjusting the color of a clip by allowing to you to adjust the high tones (the bright parts) and the low tones (the shadows or dark pasrt) separately.
This makes adjusting the color or tones of a clip much easier than trying to adjust the whole thing at the one time and offers far more fine control to the user.
Other New or Enhanced Features
Video Collage Designer
In the past in PowerDirector or pretty much any other video editing software for that matter the only way to make a video montage was to use the overlay tracks and the PiP (Picture-in-Picture) effect.
This was a long and arduous affair usually resulting in less than satisfying results!
The new Video Collage Designer is a module that opens up and allows you to choose from preset collage templates or the ability to design your own, add the chosen clips and then have the whole thing put together automatically.
You can combine up to seven different video clips into a single customizable collage and also add animated openings.
Action Camera Center
This was a feature introduced the year before last and contains a set of tools otherwise available in the main editor but more commonly used in action cam projects.
It has features such as stabilization, fish-eye correction and others that action video projects tend to require on a regular basis.
This year it has been beefed up to add stop motion capability, enhanced pan and zoom effects and more.
Geez, finally! Let’s talk about ducking because I have been waiting for this one for a while now!
When you have a project that involves some narration or voice-over as well as a musical backing track one of the biggest pains is to raise the backing track when there is no voice or lower it when there is.
It is a long fiddly process that takes forever in most cases and it is technically called ” audio ducking.”
This year CyberLink have added an automatic audio ducking feature that analyzes the overall sound track, identifies when there is voice and when there is none and adjusts the volume of the backing track accordingly.
Shadow Files Resolution
As the world of video files have moved from the first high definition resolutions and bitrates to what we are currently seeing, the amount of stress being placed on the computer doing the work has increased significantly.
One of the original workarounds for this was the idea of creating what are called proxy files or in the case of PowerDirector, Shadow Files.
These are copies of the original files being used in a project created at a far lower resolution than the originals.
In that way the user can effortlessly edit a project together without stressing out the computer and then when the final video file of the project is made, the software goes back to using the higher resolution originals.
It is a great system in theory but one of the probelms was that the Shadow Files were created at a very low resolution making the editing process a little unreal.
Sometimes it was a bit difficult to actually “see” what you were doing or imagine the final product at full resolution.
To counter this PowerDirector 16 now allows you to set the resolution of those Shadow Files so you can find the right balance between quality and speed on your computer.
Which PowerDirector 16 Version?
PowerDirector 16 is offered by CyberLink at 4 separate levels and as with all things in life you get what you pay for.
At the top of the heap PowerDirector comes 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 complete 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 AudioDirector for advanced audio editing and ColorDirector for color grading and correction.
Ultimate and Ultra
These are the standalone versions of PowerDirector 16 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, Boris and ProDAD add-ons.
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 at least.
In part two of the review I will go over the existing features, functionality and performance of the program.
Next Page: CyberLink PowerDirector 16 Review Part 2