Cyberlink PowerDirector 6
- Simple interface, useful array of tools, makes video sharing over the Web easy
- A little too much handholding and 'magic' for its own good
If you've been too shy to dip your toes into the video editing arena, PowerDirector v6 offers a nice-and-warm introduction. More experienced users would be advised to steer clear, however.
Price$ 159.00 (AUD)
The nonlinear editing process can be a daunting prospect for first-time filmmakers. From correcting shaky footage to applying subliminal transitions, the huge array of options - both practical and artistic - are often baffling. Cyberlink, better known for its range of DVD playback software, has attempted to lessen the confusion with a basic editing package that puts simplicity at the forefront. Whether you want to burn your holiday movies to DVD or share your air-guitar renditions on YouTube, PowerDirector v6 makes the process a lot easier.
Indeed, when it comes to user-friendliness, PowerDirector v6 is in a class of its own, with one of the most streamlined interfaces on the market. Unfortunately, it sets the bar so unashamedly low that experienced users are likely to step over it in disdain (a situation not helped by the frequent use of the word 'magic' in its toolset). This places the program in the capable grasp of newcomers and beginners, who will doubtlessly appreciate all the handholding they can get.
Once a video has been captured, users can pick between a traditional timeline layout or a simplified 'storyboard' interface, which does away with multiple tracks and transitions. While both systems are straightforward and easy to use, they unfortunately suffer from a few minor limitations. For example, we would have liked to see more than four separate video tracks on the timeline layout; an oversight that curtails certain creative ventures. (Admittedly, such restrictions are unlikely to register with the average user, and are therefore of little consequence to its target audience.)
For those who would prefer to take a back seat to the editing process, the new Movie Magic Wizard takes care of the hard yards for you. By selecting a theme, movie duration and soundtrack, it is possible to make an effects-filled video in just a handful of minutes (with step-by-step instructions along the way). However, like a cheap bowl of instant noodles, the results firmly reflect the preparation time. Anyone with refined artistic tastes will be appalled by the cheese-laden production values, complete with animated GIFs and tacky templates. On the other hand, grandparents are bound to adore it, as will young kids and kitten calendar enthusiasts. If you don't fall into any of these categories, we suggest sticking to the manual process.
Another gimmicky feature - which we actually like - is the ability to add speech/think bubbles to moving images. Although the effect is a bit cheap-and-nasty, it remains an incredibly easy way to add humour to your home movies. It has the ability to make even the most boring wedding video a hilarious spectacle as the 'inner thoughts' of various guests pop up on screen. Although it's possible to do this with any number of editing packages, PowerDirector v6 makes the process deliciously simple.
We were also impressed by the Magic Fix and Magic Clean tools, which vastly improve the quality of poorly shot video. Common problems such as lighting, noise, white balance and even shaky footage are easily corrected in just a few simple clicks. However, we were slightly surprised by the inability to apply more than one 'clean' tool to a single clip; making multiple corrections highly difficult.
In an attempt to roll with the times, PowerDirector v6 lets users publish their work directly to YouTube. The interface automatically links to your YouTube account, allowing you to encode and upload videos in a simple and straightforward manner. Authoring DVDs is equally achievable for the novice, complete with slick menu templates.
All up, this is an alluringly accessible product which has been tailor-made for the entry-level user. It might be a little dumb, but since when did that hurt anybody?
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