CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultra review
A handful of welcome improvements isn’t enough to edge this video editor in front of the pack
Review Date: 17 Dec 2012
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Price when reviewed: £58 (£70 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
For years PowerDirector was the fastest consumer video editor around. Its unrivalled real-time preview performance was a huge benefit when editing processor-intensive formats, such as 1080p AVC with effects and overlays. The competition has caught up, though, with Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 and Adobe Premiere Elements 11 both delivering similar levels of performance.
PowerDirector needs something special to re-establish itself, and the new features in version 11 are on the right track. There are improved colour-correction and ripple-editing options to compete with Sony’s editor. The updated PiP (picture-in-picture) Designer for animating visual elements brings the battle to Adobe’s door.
CyberLink’s determination to cover every conceivable base also sees the addition of a content-aware editing module to help home users zone in on the best bits of footage. It tries to fix shaky video and lighting problems, often with reasonable success, and identifies sections with faces, panning and zooming. Ultimately, though, it can’t tell you whether a section is boring or interesting. Version 11 also adds support for 4K resolutions for people shooting professional productions.
The new colour-correction functions bear a closer resemblance to the tools in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom than traditional video-editing software. Existing controls are joined by exposure, vibrancy, highlight healing and shadow controls, allowing for stronger colour correction without obliterating subtle colour variations. We still prefer Sony’s colour-correction effects for their flexibility and clinical precision, but this is a big improvement.
We encountered a bug where applying the Highlight Healing and Shadow processes caused the preview to lapse into slow motion and lose audio sync, most noticeably at high preview resolutions. This was one of numerous bugs we encountered when PowerDirector 11 was first launched. Most of them are now resolved, but this one persists.
The new ripple-editing functions could be better, too. They dictate what happens to objects on the timeline when others are inserted, deleted or changed in length. The standard behaviour among most consumer editors is to shuffle objects along to make space or fill gaps, but this isn’t always desirable, particularly when working across multiple tracks or when editing video in time with music.
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