GCN LAB REVIEW

CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Deluxe

Let’s get the criticisms of this program out of the way because there are only a couple of things we didn’t like about CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Deluxe: It has no Mac OS compatibility, and its video playback is a little choppy.

GCN LAB TEST

CyberLink PowerDirector 7 Deluxe

Pros: Blu-ray authoring capability, easy to use, inexpensive
Cons: No Mac OS version

Performance: B+
Features: A+
Ease of use: B+
Value: A+
Compatibility: B-
Price: $69

Now that I have that out of my system, I can tell you that we enjoyed this program. Capturing video in PowerDirector 7 was easy, regardless of whether the footage came from a high-end HDV camcorder or an older model. PowerDirector performed faster than any program we reviewed. It downloaded our videos at an average of 1 minute of waiting per 1 minute of video. Even though a 1:1 capture ratio is supposed to be the standard, CyberLink was one of only two products in this review that met — and in some trials exceeded — that goal.


Lead story: Video-editing tools cut to the chase


 

CyberLink was able to perform all the editing features discussed above, and the interface is easy enough to let you access all the features with only a couple of clicks. If anything, we were a little overwhelmed by all the features displayed at the same time. But that feeling quickly evaporated after we started focusing on what we wanted to do with our video footage.

Playback was slow at times, but the easy-to-find editing features were among the best in the roundup. For example, CyberLink lets you render videos in high definition or create videos with support for HD content, including AVCHD, MPEG-2 HD and WMV HD formats.

CyberLink lets you track picture-in-picture effects, so you can design image overlays and chroma key effects, and the program can mask as many as six independently animated objects.

A disc menu designer lets you navigate and animate chapter thumbnails and create stylish menus with subtitle on/off controls. One of the best features of PowerDirector is its emphasis on high-end audio and video quality. You can output to Blu-ray Disc or DVD with Dolby Digital 5.1, which lets you burn discs that have surround-sound audio quality.

Additionally, a feature called Resizable Workspace lets you adjust your workspace to make editing even easier. We were able to drag the screen to enlarge the timeline, which made editing a large video clip a less daunting task.

Combining two video clips, or pairing, can be challenging, too. The Magic Cut tool in PowerDirector 7 Deluxe gives you the ability to split the video in a simple and automated fashion. Magic Cut works by automatically condensing your video to a specified time frame. To use, simply select your clip, click the Magic Cut button and input the time length you want the clip to be trimmed to. For example, if you have a 20-minute segment that you want to cut to 18 minutes, select the segment you want reduced, click Magic Cut and enter 18 minutes.

If you don’t want to use the automated feature, it’s easy to manually trim in PowerDirector 7. First, select a clip and click the Trim button, then choose the “mark in” and “mark out” points on your timeline, and select OK. It’s important to note that PowerDirector lets you remove several sections from a video at the same time with a feature called Multi-Trim. When conducting those types of advanced editing techniques, a feature called Scene Detection automatically detects the start and finish of multiple scenes and segments them. That division of your footage makes it easier to add effects,  create transitions, and cut or remove multiple sections.

Although this easy-to-use program is packed with powerful features and delivers above-average performance, PowerDirector 7’s best feature is its amazingly low price of $69.

CyberLink, 510-668-0118, www.cyberlink.com

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