CyberLink’s PowerDirector 7 Ultra - An Inexpensive Alternative

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Cyberlink’s PowerDirector 7 Ultra is a powerful, inexpensive, and fun to use video editing application. PC Magazine gave this application the Editor’s Choice award for consumer video editing, calling it “the best all-around consumer-editing app.”

Cyberlink themselves call this a “comprehensive, semi-professional editing software.” All they would have to do to take this application from sem-professional to professional is to raise the price to some ridiculous amount so that only professionals could afford it. But at a suggested retail price of $119.95, this application is a real bargain.

Inside the Application

I wasn’t very impressed with the user interface until I started using it. Instead of the standard drop down menus, you are presented with four actions along the top – Capture, Edit, Produce, and Create Disc. The rest of the commands are found in the vertical icon bar on the left side of the screen. These icons are where the real power lies.

The “Media Room” handles the actual work screen. There is an “Effect Room” for special effects, a “PiP Objects Room,” the “Title Room,” the “Transition Room,” the “Audio Mixing Room”, A “Voice-Over Recording Room”, a “Chapter Room,” and the “Subtitle Room.” These selections alone hint at the power behind the application.

PowerDirector 7 offers end-to-end support for HD video, from Importing to editing of output, and includes advanced authoring features for Blue-ray and DVDs.

The Good

· The “DirectorZone”, Cyberlink’s online community, allows users to upload and share design elements and effects that they have customized themselves using PowerDirector’s built-in design tools. This is a great content-sharing capability that functions from within a consumer video editor.

· It supports 6 independent PiP video tracks.

· It includes a 3D engine for photo slideshows, new styles and soundtrack beat detection for synchronized, video-like results.

· Key frame control editor for video effects, new preset motion paths for animating photos.

· Improved Magic Tools for fixing, enhancing and editing videos with one click

· Direct access to photos on Flickr, and audio from Freesound for use in noncommercial productions.

· Supports 5.1 Dolby Digital so you can create discs for pro-like audio results.

The Bad

· There are some problems with importing, but nothing too serious. AVCHD capture is lumped together with DVD import. So in order to access AVCHD, you have to click on the DVD button. There have been some reports of some camcorders not being recognized. Just to experiment, I tried it with my DXG-566V HD camcorder, and the software almost spit it back out as if it tasted bad. But again, this is probably due to this particular model camcorder not being well known or frequently used. But it had no problem reading off the flash memory card.

· While it isn’t something I have ever had the need to do, PowerDirector 7 does not allow you to send preview video to a DV camcorder and attached TV or other NTSC device for a full screen preview. I think this need would be more dependent on the size of the computer monitor you are working with.

· PowerDirector can create a synchronized slideshow set to the duration of your audio with panning, zooming, and other effects. If you don’t like the look you can change templates, but doing so replaces all of the content on your timeline, so you have to start over again.

Conclusion (5 out of 5)

There are two versions of PowerDirector 7 – Ultra and Deluxe. The only differences between the two is that Deluxe doesn’t burn to Blu-ray Disc and it doesn’t offer AVCHD disc capture, authoring, or burning.

The MSRP for the Ultra version is $119.95 and $69.95 for the Deluxe version. Again, these prices are extraordinarily reasonable. If you have no need for Blu-ray or AVCHD support, and don’t expect to in the near future, then the Deluxe version is for you.

I thoroughly enjoyed testing this software. Rather than having to spend all my time reading user’s manuals to figure out how to do things, you can jump right in and start experimenting. It’s a lot of fun. Once you get a feel for the power available, you can start planning your first production film!