By Terry Currier
October 2008 issue
I’ve used several video editing programs over the years, but I still like using CyberLink’s PowerDirector. Yes, there are more powerful programs that can do more, but I feel that the PowerDirector’s interface is just easier to work with, and its faster. If I have not used it for a long period of time I can still figure things out without having to bring up the help.
They have a new Vista like interface with PowerDirector 7. I like the new dark background, it’s easier on the eyes than the previous bright white. One of the more interesting things CyberLink did was create a website (http://directorzone.cyberlink.com/) where users can share customized DVD menus, templates, frames, static and motion objects. There are hundreds for people to choose from. You can also search for and import media into your media library from Flickr or Freesound directly. It can work with video in either 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio.
PowerDirector 7 will allow you to import video from an HDD camcorder. The edited file can be burned to a disc or back to a hard disk drive camcorder. If you have the Ultra version you can import AVCHD format. I had no problem with taking in my Canon HF100 raw AVCHD and working directly on it. If you have a Blu-ray drive ultra will also work with it.
The picture-in-picture (PiP) feature is something you may not think to use, but once you do you will realize how much fun it can be. I’m starting to import old VHS tapes of my kids. It was interesting to have the high school band practicing their marching in the main screen and have a PiP of the march in competition.
With the new PowerDirector 7 you can have up to six PiP. You can modify the size of the PiP, degree of transparency of the overlapping clip, as well as its position, motion and other properties using the PiP Designer. So for my grandson’s birthday party I can put in the video I took and on the corners have the 200 still pictures showing in four PiP (he’s really cute.)
The Slideshow Designer has been enhanced with more styles to choose from. They say you can synchronize photos with the beat of the music and full creative control over the design in slideshows. I did not do that, but I was really impressed with the Slideshow creation. Easy to do, add music to the background, pan and zoom in Magic Motion, or add a style. It will help you create soundtracks that fit perfectly within the length of a video clip or photo slideshow. PhotoNow will let you edit images (stills.) You can resize, crop, rotate, remove red eye, adjust color, brightness and more. They show you the original and new image side by side so you can decide how it compares.
Magic Cut helps you fit a video clip to a specific time by automatically cutting out unnecessary portions and keeping only the best moments. The Magic Cut feature uses video technology to locate and keep the most interesting moments, while discarding sections of lesser importance. Great for the times when you have to get that 70 minutes of video down to 60. I did try it and thought it worked pretty good. You still want to check to make sure everything you need is in it.
In the Title Designer you can move the title to any part of the screen, change font, change the color, blur it, make it transparent (percentage), or change the gradient direction. As I said you can download many different DVD menus, or it is not that hard to create your own. One of my favorite things is to created a short video of up to 90 seconds and have it be the background for the DVD menu. When burning to a DVD in the past version they had a feature called Smart Fit which supposedly it helped to make your video fit onto a DVD. Most of the time it would not work for me. Well now in 7 they fixed it.
The Voice-Over Recording Room contains controls for recording a narration from a microphone while watching the video clip the voice-over is destined to accompany. You can control the position and volume of the recording.
Magic Fix will help smooth shaky video and clarifies blurry footage (don’t expect miracles on a bad video.) With the previous version using Magic Clean users could only apply one improvement method at a time - Lighting and Color Adjustment, White Balance and Backlight Compensation. With 7 you can apply all at the same time.
Is it perfect – well no video editing software is. When going to burn a DVD the program default is to add background music that goes with the different templates. Excuse me, if I wanted it I would put it in. Also the template has the title put in as “My Videos” for each page you have. More chapters means you will have more buttons and therefore more pages. You can edit and put in whatever you want. If I put in Soccer 1993 on the first page I feel is should put that same title on all the pages. Instead I have to edit each page (and remove the background music from each) to change the title.
Besides burning the video to a DVD you can save the video you worked on to a good variety of choices. These include AVI, MPEG-1, 2 and 4, with full control over codec settings. Streaming options of WMV, RealVideo and QuickTime. If you want you can write your videos back to DV or HDV tape. The Production Wizard will link directly into your YouTube account, encoding and uploading straight to the Web.
PowerDirector Ultra is $119.95 while the Deluxe version is $69.95. if you do not have a camcorder that outputs to AVCHD, or Blu-ray than you only need the Deluxe. You can download a 30 day trial version from the CyberlLink website or Download.com.
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