Entry-level video-editing software is hardly in short supply these days, but PowerDirector offers certain features that most of the competition can't. A combination of ease of use and some clever live MPEG editing sets this package apart from the rest.
You can tell by the low price and chunky interface that PowerDirector is aimed at the everyday PC user rather than the pretentious amateur film-maker. It's all very clear and simple: your project library of media files is shown in a window on the left and there's a preview window and attribute dialogue box on the right. By dragging media files to the iconised sequence strip across the bottom of the screen, you build your movie. A dial button in the top right of the screen lets you switch between various modes such as playback, audio, video capture and so on.
Underneath this simplicity lies CyberLink's proprietary SVRT (smart video rendering technology). This saves you vast amounts of disk space when capturing, editing and processing your movies by keeping it all in MPEG format from start to finish, rather than the more conventional approach of converting digital video to AVI format and then back again at the end. Unfortunately, what you save in disk space you may have to make up for in processing power: to capture video to MPEG-1 you'll need a 700MHz Pentium III, and for MPEG-2 you'll need a 1GHz machine, at least.
Another disappointment is the limitation of audio editing on a per-clip basis, with only one audio track available for stretching across an entire movie. But for under $250, you can't expect everything.
CyberLink PowerDirector ***
PowerDirector's low-end feature set won't woo the more serious amateur video editor. Unfortunately, "its high-end processing demands could put off "entry-level users as well.
Distributor: Communique Software.
Phone: (02) 9622 5624.