CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite Software Review

Are you looking for a powerful video editing program? Lots of readers have asked me this question before - what's the best video editing software to work on videos? Which ones are easy to use, yet flexible enough for more advanced effects and creative work?

Well, if you've been in video editing for sometime, you'll know there are some great candidates for enhancing and adding special effects to your videos post production.

CyberLink PowerDirector is one such application. To be honest, I've always relied more on Corel VideoStudio or the Adobe suite of video editing products - but CyberLink has caught up so well in the past couple of years, I just had to take notice.

Let's take a look at CyberLink PowerDirector 11 "Ultimate Suite" in this article.

This is their latest version of the award winning PowerDirector video editing software.

1. Introduction

CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite is an affordable video editing software for both beginners as well as experienced editors.

Besides the standard video editing must-haves - clean-up tools, filters, special effects, transitions, titles, audio and so forth - the program now has a couple of new features.

Some of them include a new TrueVelocity 3 rendering engine, as well as things like color detector, autodetector and new editing tools.

The CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite

2. Editing Environment

The first thing I look at when I use a video editing tool is the user interface, or editing environment.

Is it intuitive? Are the software controls laid out properly and are the most commonly used ones easily accessible?

In this aspect, CyberLink PowerDirector 11 wins hands down. It has one of the better editing environments I've seen - with a HD preview window, customizable hotkeys for easy access to actions and a 100 track timeline.

There's a nice "ripple editing" feature which allows items in your video timeline to stay aligned while I insert or remove video clips.

And that 100 track timeline means I can overly PiP (Picture-in-Picture) objects, titles, particles to produce very compelling video productions.

3. Editing Tools and Effects

The second thing that's very important in a video editing application is its editing tool and effects support.

Some of the less well known applications like to "string" together smaller tools to help you achieve an effect. For the better applications like CyberLink PowerDirector, these effects are built right in the core of the software.

Again, PowerDirector is top-notch in this area. It comes with a Title Designer, Particle Designer, PiP Designer and Menu Designer. With this, I can mess with my objects, particles, etc. all in one place.

I tried the Title Designer out and it rocks - I can add 4-color gradients to text I insert into videos, or put in reflection effects.

You know those effects like snow, dust, rain or other stuff that commonly fill videos? Well, the PowerDirector Particle Designer has a built-in particle object library that can be used to create these effects.

Usually you may have to pay for separate software programs (e.g. HitFilm) to achieve the same.

The PiP Designer allows you to add objects, video clips or other animated objects into a video frame - lots of creative editing work you can do in there.

The Menu Designer is a DVD or Blu-ray menu designer. I tried it out, there are some built-in templates which make your video look really professional. Alternatively, I can customize the titles, chapters and objects to make things more unique for my production.

You can use the full screen editing interface and timeline for a more accurate animation design, or overlay particle effects over titles. Apply reflection effects to title text or PiP objects, or use the 4-color gradient to make your title text really stand out.

4. Other Goodies

And I've not yet started on what else is in the PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite. The Ultimate Suite comes with NewBlue FX Effects, Travel Pack 2, Holiday MagicStyle and Romance Pack 3 (perfect for wedding videos).

The specific effects you'll find in CyberLink PowerDirector 11 are too numerous to mention! I'll try to go through some of them here.

Precise Keyframe Controls - the application has one single single interface for easy control and timing of each effect in your video. Some video editing suites don't have this and it is troublesome to synchronize all of your video elements together.

Chroma-Key Tool- chroma-keying is now stock standard in almost every intermediate level editing tool I've seen. It allows you to shoot videos in front of a green sheet and merge it with other videos or pictures to create cool special effects, just like in Hollywood movies.

Time-Lapse & Slideshow Creator - photos can be turned into beautiful videos using time-lapse. Cyberlink PowerDirector has full support for time-lapsing and also comes with tools to customize photo slideshows, with your own animations and background music added in.

3D From Start to Finish - 3D video is now all the rage. PowerDirector now allows you to import and edit videos and photos in breathtaking 3D. And there is support for all major 3D video and photo formats, so I find I don't have to be worried about compatibility.

DirectorZone - what I also like about Cyberlink is that there's a rich library of free video effects and templates sitting in their video editing online community, called DirectorZone.

This is indeed one of the largest video editing communities on the web - I've seen others like those from Corel and Adobe and they don't have as much content compared to Cyberlink.

5. Performance

Rendering your video for you to preview what you've edited and created is of utmost importance.

I remember in the old days, I'd edit and save the video, then spent a long time rendering it just to see what the effect looked like. These days, with better computer hardware, you can make use of the graphics card in your computer system to render very quickly.

For those of you interested in performance, you'll be glad to know Cyberlink PowerDirector is amazing in this department. It comes with TrueVelocity® 3 - which is basically support for multiple CPUs on your graphics card.

So what you do is to buy a powerful graphics card for your computer, and PowerDirector can fully leverage on that hardware. And use it to speed up and optimize editing, rendering and effect processing speeds.

For those more technically inclined, PowerDirector is the world's first native 64-bit consumer video editing program. So if your computer is 64-bit, you're going to see much faster speeds all round the application.

Other functionalities like Smart Video Rendering Technology (SVRT) - which analyzes the full video project and selects the best output profile for speedier production - is built into PowerDirector. It also has support for OpenCL and the latest Intel and AMD CPUs out there.

6. Other Features

One of the best new features I've found in PowerDirector 11 is Content-Aware Editing. You know when you have a 2-hour long video to edit? It's tough to find the pinpoint the scenes you want to focus on.

Content-Aware Editing helps you sieve through the footage automatically to find points of interest.

There's also the capability to identify imperfect shots due to shaky or poor lighting automatically using TrueTheater.

It saves me quite a bit of time in your video editing process as I don't have to trawl through the entire video to find these bad spots.

7. Shortcomings

I don't have much to complain about when it comes to Cyberlink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate Suite. The only drawback is that its new features could be a little intimidating to newcomers.

I know the package is aimed at both beginners and intermediate level video enthusiasts, but many of the new features (e.g. PiP objects, menu designers and a 100 track timeline, sophisticated keyframe automation) make it difficult for beginners.

I'd prefer that Cyberlink a bit more focused, perhaps even creating a separate beginner level product altogether, so as to ease the learning curve.

Wrapping Up ...

Well, you've seen quite a handful about CyberLink PowerDirector 11 above.

In my opinion, if you're an intermediate level video enthusiast, PowerDirector 11 is one of the best options for video editing.

You get a whole slew of editing tools and effects, plus a high-end rendering engine built into the software.

The learning curve of the software is quite steep though, so I don't recommend it for beginners (although if you're patient you probably can pick it up quite easily).

All in all, a great package at a good price point and something you should consider if you're in this video hobby for the long term.

Click here if you wish to purchase a copy of Cyberlink Powerdirector 11 Ultimate Suite.