When you buy a computer, a hundred thousand “what is the best” questions will pop up. What is the best firewall, antivirus, system cleaner, porn site… er… anyway, you get the picture. And when you buy your first digital video camera, that same question pops up once you shoot your first few hours of film. How do I edit this and have it look decently professional without blowing a ton of money? The question isn’t the what is the best, it’s what works for me? For the consumer who makes all his/her on cinematic productions, there is Cyberlink Power Director 7. Its interface is perfect for the novice right up to the professional who just wants to crank out a flick on the quick.
Here are some of the many features available with this latest installment of Power Director:
- From Capture to Produce — in High-Definition – Create high-definition videos with support for HD content including AVCHD (import and export only), MPEG-2 HD, and WMV-HD formats.
- 6-track Picture-in-Picture Effects – Design breathtaking video effects such as image overlays, masks and chroma-key effects, with up to 6 layers of video tracks. Learn about using multiple PiPs.
- Disc Menu Designer – Featuring all-new DVD template designs available for standard and widescreen displays. Also support burning onto DVDs. For Blu-ray disc burning support, use PowerDirector 7 Ultra .
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator - Burn discs featuring surround sound audio that you can enjoy on your home-theater system.
- Re sizable Workspace - Adjust your workspace to make editing even easier. Drag to enlarge the time line, preview window and effects libraries.
- Automated Video Editing – Select a movie theme and let PowerDirector complete your video for you. No need to set a single edit point or add an effect. It’s totally automatic!
- Professional Slideshows – Choose from 7 unique templates, including the new “3D” style and slideshows featuring beat-detection technology to automatically sync your photos to music. The “cell” style gives your complete control, letting you arrange each photo.
- Powerful Video Enhancements - Intelligent fixes to video flaws and transform them into your best memories. Power Director’s video and photo enhancement tools let you adjust the degree of each fix then automatically create the results your are looking for.
Okay, so now you know the basics of what it can do. Install it, and let’s get to work. Here’s what I’m using as a test machine:
- Sempron 1.6Ghz Processor
- 1 GB Elixer RAM
- 320GB Seagate HD
- 40GB External HD for Video Storage
- French Bread Pizza
- Monster Energy
Once you start the software and you get past the creepy kid that is smiling from the load screen, you will be taken directly to your workstation. There will be a top-left sidebar that gives you many options to work with. These include your Media, Transitions, Effects, and PiPs. Hold your cursor over each button to find out what each one is. Although it is fairly easy to figure it out based on the picture on each one. This software is definitely aimed at the novice consumer.
At the top is four options, all in sequence for ease of use. These are Capture, Edit, Produce, and Create Disc. We’ll start with the first one and work our way forward. Click on the capture and you will find a host of devices that PD7 can capture from, including DV, HDV, TV, PC Cam, Audio CD and DVD. Many options, many choices. With the right video capture card you could be turning those old home videos of you at Woodstock into DVD’s to share with the other people in the nursing home.
Okay, let’s Edit! Click the button and you will see your editing station, complete with your media collection on the top left, and preview window on the right, and your timeline at the bottom. This is simple, drag and drop software, so all you have to do is put your video where you want it arrange any extra audio such as music and you’re good to go. The effects available are just as easy. Drop them where you want them and then stretch them to cover the area you want to have the effect. You can separate your video into chapters, add sweet transitions, and even add subtitles and voice overs!
Once you are done editing your movie, you can move on to the production stage. At the top, click the Produce button. Here is where you will convert your video for playing on personal players, DVD, the Internet, etc… If you would prefer to just go straight to DVD then click the Create Disc button. You design your own DVD menu, add sound, and then at the press of a button you are burning your own DVD playable in most standard DVD players.
I had no problems with the interface of this software, save for one little glitch. If you snip a video file, the end of the file seems to pause just before it moves on to the next segment of video. This could just be a driver issue. If you do have this problem, try updating your drivers and see if that helps. Most consumers will have no use for clipping files anyway, so I wouldn’t worry about it being something that would effect your final movie. Overall, I found this to be a delightful program, full of fun things that you can do to spice up your video and make it look much more professional. I would personally not recommend it for anyone wanting to do any commercial editing, but if you are looking for quality home video of the kiddies, or want to edit and upload to YouTube that video of your buddies running up to the fast food windows and snatching food, then this is your best bet.