On this page and the next you will find my CyberLink PowerDirector 17 review covering what’s new and improved followed by a run through of the programs mains features.
As much as possible in this review I have tried to restrict myself to just covering the important points but each year that task becomes more and more difficult.
Consumer level video editing programs like PowerDirector now pack so many features and functions 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 someone 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 the PowerDirector product is still the best in 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 17 and how it stacks up.
So before we get into the PowerDirector 17 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 PowerDirector 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 17 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 as you are watching it!
New and or Improved Main Features
Integrated and Expanded Audio Editing
Strangely to me CyberLink have not really highlighted this one particularly and I have no idea why!
For anyone who hasn’t really edited videos all that much let me explain.
There is an old saying, “The most important part of video is audio,” and that is totally true!
Easily the weakest point in all video editing software on the market has been the ability to effectively edit and manipulate audio files as part of an overall video project.
None of the big players have, until now, offered anything much beyond cutting, some simple volume controls and perhaps an inefective noise reduction feature.
CyberLink themselves have acknowledged that weakness even in their own software and have always provided a free copy of their basic audio editing program Wav Editor.
This at least went some way towards balancing things out.
Well that has all changed with the release of PowerDirector 17.
Integrated into the main software they are now including a completely new Audio Editing module that offers a bunch of advanced audio editing tools and features.
Audio editing tools such as: Dynamic Range Compression, Distortion, Pitch Shift, Vocal Transformer, Equalizer, Echo, Reverb, Generate Noise, Noise Reduction and Vocal Removal are now all accessible from within PowerDirector 17.
Updated 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.
This year they have added more border color and size controls, plus the ability to adjust interclip borders and save or download customized templates.
MultiCam Designer & Collage Designer Inter-operability
Both the MultiCam Designer and Collage Designer were introduced a few version back and both basically are based on the concept of dealing with multiple clips at the same time although for slightly different reasons.
In previous versions if you created a project using the MultiCam Designer it was logical that a number of those projects would ultimately be destined for use in the Collage Designer.
Unfortunately these modules were not on speaking terms so you had to go through a kind of clunky process to achieve what you wanted.
Now you can move directly from the MultiCam Designer to the Collage Designer to complete a MultiCam Designer project as a collage.
Nested Project Editing
Very often a large editing project can get quite cumbersome to deal with on the timeline and you find yourself sinking in a sea of video clips, audio clips, images and effects.
The most common indicator of this is opening an incomplete project, staring at the screen and having no idea where you were, where you are or where you are going wth it!
The way the pro’s deal with this is that they use a concept called “nested projects” or “nested sequences.”
What that means is that at any given time they are only dealing with very short sequences of the overall video at any time.
Once a sequence is finished it is put aside, a new fresh timeline is started and they move to the next one until they finally put all the nested sequences together into a finshed product.
Now in PowerDirector 17 you can do the same thing.
You can work on a sequence and save it not as a complete video file but as a project.
When you are ready to complete you project you simple load those sequences to the timeline then render the entire completed video.
Improved Motion Tracking Accuracy
PowerDirector was one of the first editing programs at the consumer level to introduce motion tracking.
This year they have enhanced this already very good module with the ability to step frame-by-frame through a video to achieve incredibly precise motion tacking.
Here’s a demo of it:
The Best of the Rest
There are a bunch of other new features or enhancements across the board in PowerDirector 17 so rather than go on and on here I’ll just briefly describe what they are.
Improved Title Designer
Additions to the animated title text effects plus faster editing from directly inside the preview window with background object support.
Pre-cut clips can be saved to your library in a special section for them which is a time saver for people who tend to use certain elements repeatedly throughout projects or regularly within them.
Create Brush Mask in Mask Designer
The is an enhancement to the Mask Designer whereby you can use the brush tool to create custom, irregular shaped masks to apply to video clips.
Advanced Chroma Key
The Chroma Key Module in PD was always pretty good but this year they have added the ability to key out multiple key samples rather than just the one.
In English that means when you choose a color to key out but that color is not consistent within the video you can choose a couple more spots for the program to use as the colors to key out.
The result of this is a Chroma Key module that is far more forgiving of greens scree or blue screen footage where the background is not perfectly green or perfectly blue.
Keyframe Opacity Editing
Adjusting the opacity of a video on the timeline has always been a feature of PowerDirector but the setting was always applied to the entire clip in question.
In PowerDirector 17 you can now use key frames to have the opacity vary throughout the length of a clip.
This is an interesting development because it allows for greater control which could then be used for the creation of bespoke transitions as well as a whole range of user created effects.
Redesigned Paint Designer
An improved workflow has been developed within this module which allows for animated painted effects to be overlaid on videos more efficiently.
Better 360˚ Video Stabilization
PowerDirector with the release of the previous version just about wrapped up the “meat and potatoes” part of providing an end-to-end 360˚ video solution.
One welcome addition for this release has been an improved stabilization engine, plus the ability to adjust Temporal & Spatial ranges and Axis rotation.
Best Matched Profile Plus SVRT 5
OK, this is a bit technical but here’s the gist of it.
SVRT stands for Smart Video Rendering Technology which in turn is a fancy-pants name for a technology that CyberLink developed quite some time back.
It is based on one digital video rule which is that every time you re-render a digital video file at parameters that are IN ANY WAY different to the original, you will get degradation to some degree in the final file.
It is just the way it is with digital video files and has nothing to do with any kind of software.
So in a nutshell SVRT was CyberLink’s attempt to help the user find the best possible output profile for videos in situations where the parameters were going to have to be changed.
Best Matched Profile is an extension of that technology.
The software can analyse the assets on your timeline, look at the available output profiles for the type of videos you are using and offer a “Best Match” so that you can retain the best quality.
It goes a little something like this:
To me those are the more substantial new features or improvements to existing features in PowerDirector 17.
Which PowerDirector 17 Version?
PowerDirector 17 is offered by CyberLink at 3 separate levels on both a perpetual licence model or as an annual subscription 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.
Director Suite is is only offered as an annual subscription service.
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
Ultimate and Ultra
These are the standalone versions of PowerDirector 17 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.
In part two of the review I will go over the existing features, functionality and performance of the program.
Next Page: CyberLink PowerDirector 17 Review Part 2