Monday, 18 December 2017
Reviews

Review: CyberLink PowerDirector 16 Ultra


Introduces comprehensive support for 360 videos, but there are plenty of non-360 enhancements too.

CyberLink always jumps on the latest technology trends quickly, and with version 16 of PowerDirector it’s hoping to get ahead of the curve for 360 video. Even if creating VR videos holds zero interest, there are many other handy new features as well.
There are four different versions of PowerDirector 16 available: Deluxe, Ultra, Ultimate, and Ultimate Suite, ranging in price from $129.99 to $274. I focus on the $129 Ultra version here, but will also be looking at the key new features in AudioDirector 8 and ColorDirector 6, which come with the top Ultimate Suite bundle. 

The 360 support in PowerDirector 16 includes several useful tools, although sadly not stitching; you’ll need to use software that comes with your 360 camera to do this, if the video isn’t already output pre-stitched. Once you’ve imported 360 footage, you can set which direction the view is pointed towards at the beginning with 360 Start View. You can also extract a 2D view to use your 360 footage in a 2D project.

One of the key new 360 facilities is image stabilisation, because regular 2D tools won’t work with this kind of video format. The video stabilisation can be found in the Action Camera Center, and was effective with footage I took whilst bushwalking. 

A significant problem when you’re editing 360 video arises when you want to add titles. A regular titling tool will place two-dimensional graphics over the top of the spherical footage, and won’t move when you pan around. But PowerDirector 16 comes with a collection of titles that are designed to work in 360, moving around as the viewer pans. They can even have motion tracking applied so they follow something in the frame as it changes relative location within the 360 sphere.

But I promised you new features that had nothing to do with 360 footage. First up is a collage designer, which makes it easy to create rapid multi-clip opening sequences. This includes a selection of presets that can be animated. You simply decide which clip goes where via drag and drop, and whether all will start at once or in sequence. 

Another high-end addition is colour matching. This is something found in dedicated grading tools such as Adobe SpeedGrade and is extremely useful if you’re shooting the same subject with different cameras or settings. You can select two clips and colour correct one so that it matches the other more closely by choosing that clip as the reference. I found it effective at making clips shot on different cameras look more uniform. Another grading-oriented update is support for Look-Up-Tables (LUTs) in standard 3dl, mga or m3d formats. No examples were included, but you can readily download some classic looks from third parties.

Although CyberLink leaves the most sophisticated audio editing to the separate AudioDirector, the core sound functions in PowerDirector still receive a useful upgrade in the form of audio ducking. This is where the volume of a music soundtrack can be set to automatically fill gaps in a speech audio track. I found the default parameters needed careful tweaking so the volume changes didn’t sound too abrupt, but it isn’t hard to achieve good results and this tool saves a lot of time.

The Ultimate Suite bundle includes the latest versions of ColorDirector and AudioDirector. ColorDirector 6, unsurprisingly, also has support for 360 video. You can now grade this in the same way as 2D footage. Whether grading 2D or 360, the one-click tone adjustment can detect different scenes in a sequence and will adjust the grade separately for each one. 

AudioDirector 8 can also import 360 video so that you can edit the soundtrack, but there’s no facility to pan directional audio within the 360 space. AudioDirector can also automatically splice up music to fit a given length, so beginning, middle and end still flow smoothly but the length fits exactly. You can also sample the ambient background noise and add it to areas of silence, so these don’t stick out from the rest.

With version 16 of PowerDirector, CyberLink maintains its position as a serious video-editing contender, particularly if you opt for the Ultimate Suite bundle. A wealth of extras are included in all the premium options, such as powerful plugins from NewBlue, ProDAD and Boris FX, and this makes CyberLink PowerDirector 16 one of the most powerful consumer video-editing tools on the market. 


CyberLink PowerDirector 16 Ultra


5
5


“With version 16 of PowerDirector, CyberLink maintains its position as a serious video-editing contender…”


Overall

Recommended













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