On this page and the next you will find my CyberLink PowerDirector 15 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 15 and how it stacks up.
So before we get into the PowerDirector 15 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 five 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 15 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 15.
Which PowerDirector 15 Version?
PowerDirector 15 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 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 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 15 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 15 is no exception.
These are the new features of the program with my opinion of their real value.
360º Video Editing
PowerDirector now supports complete end-to-end 360-degree video editing.
You can import footage, create a 360º project and edit with the full range of design tools available in the normal editor including titles, effects, transitions and animated objects.
Once you have completed your editing you can then export your project to a 360º file format which at the moment can be played on YouTube or FaceBook.
In addition to that they have added a new module called View Designer.
This is a dedicated interface that allows you to step through your 360º footage and select specific sequences that you want to incorporate into a standard video project.
The result is very similar to having shot the footage using multiple cameras from different angles.
All in all this is quite easily the most comprehensive deployment of 360º degree editing capabilities at this level of the market.
360º footage invariably has at least some “fish eye” effect due to the wide angled lenses being used to shoot at 360º but in PowerDirector you already have special filters within the Action Camera module which can go a long way in correcting them.
True Velocity is a technology developed by CyberLink and is one of the features that helps it stand out from the crowd although it’s not really all that sexy!
It is their own software code that enables the software to more efficiently muster the resources of whatever computer it is housed on.
Simply put it is a system of working out what processing is available, where it is and how to use it more effectively.
It really comes into its own on 64bit machines but you don’t necessarily lose out is you are on a 32bit one.
The real value of True Velocity is a smoother and faster experience when you are rendering your projects or previewing the timeline.
Version 6 of True Velocity is the latest update of this feature.
Ah, it’s the little things!
I don’t know how many times I have had to help people deal with odd video sizes and aspect ratios in all sorts of video editing software.
Because of inherent characteristics of video files themselves, changing aspect ratios or orientations is generally a nightmare in most video editors.
The two standard aspect ratios are 4:3 (standard) or 16:9 (widescreen) yet as we move into 2017 the reality is that 4:3 is going the way of the dinosaurs.
What is becoming more and more prevalent is an aspect ratio that is nothing like these and that is most often seen on phone footage shot in portrait mode.
PowerDirector is the first software I have come across this year that has recognized this and implemented the simplest of solutions.
They just added a 9:16 aspect ratio to the start up screen so you can go straight into a “phone footage” type video and start editing right off the bat.
They also added a button in the editing interface that allows you to switch from 4:3 to 16:9 or 9:16 without having to go deep into the project settings to change it once you have started.
This is a new dedicated module built on a feature of the PiP designer allowing greater control over text, images and videos you are essentially using as masks.
The result of it is that you can create your own tailor made special effects.
Action Camera Center
This was a feature introduced last year and contains a set of tool otherwise available in the main editor.
The difference being that these tools are the most likely ones a person editing footage from an action cam would be most likely to use.
It has features such as stabilization, fish-eye correction and others that action style videos use a lot.
This year it has been beefed up a little to add stop motion capability and enhanced pan and zoom effects.
OK this one is kind of hard to explain but simply put it allows you to vary the way clips, filters or effects are displayed on the video you are working on by choosing a different setting.
Each of these settings, Normal, Darken, Multiply, Lighten, Screen, Overlay, Difference or Hue give you a different result in how the overlaid video appears in the final product.
This is another feature that offers control over the way the video looks and behaves resulting in special effects that aren’t just run of the mill “canned” effects.
This is technology that CyberLink have ported over from their video playback products like Media Suite.
It is a sort of “smart” technology that can analyze footage on the fly and enhance it as it is being played back resulting in a richer more well defined viewing experience.
In PowerDirector 15 CyberLink have incorporated this technology into a color and image correction tool that allows you to load a clip, select “Color / Enhance” from the Power Tools menu and use a simple slider arrangement to quickly adjust your videos.
Ease In and Ease Out
Huge improvements added to this module adding not only a new array of settings you can use to control objects but to the range of objects you can control as well.
In part two of the review I will go over the existing features, functionality and performance of the program.
Next Page: CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Review Part 2