Only a few years ago, turning your PC into a movie-editing suite was a fairly ambitious enterprise. Now, however, in this world of DVD, FireWire, rocket-powered processors and gargantuan hard disks, video-editing is much less of a niche market.
These days there’s no shortage of software to capture footage, edit it, add swish effects and then burn it onto a CD or DVD.
CyberLink has recently added two of its own authoring suites, introducing PowerProducer and PowerDirector Pro 2.5.
This extremely simple program is designed to get your video footage and still photos onto a CD or DVD as painlessly as possible. Like most multimedia applications, PowerProducer starts by capturing or importing video clips and graphics from various sources.
If you already know what kind of disc you’ll finally be making, then capturing is easy — select either DVD, VCD (video CD), SVCD (super video CD) or MiniDVD from the first screen of the wizard and the program will adjust the quality, frame rate and compression settings automatically. With your footage on board, the wizard takes you step-by-step through the rest of the disc creation process. Those who just want to get straight to the shiny, round version of their recordings can keep clicking the Next button until PowerProducer starts burning your CD or DVD. However, there are some simple video-editing, menu-authoring and slideshow creation tools at your disposal, should you want to experiment creatively.
Alternatively, clicking on the QuickBurn button bypasses even the most minimal interaction and produces a disc automatically. Your finished DVD or VCD should play back in most set-top DVD players as well as PCs with a DVD-ROM/CD-ROM drive. Some of the other formats supported aren’t as widely catered for, so check compatibility before you go into mass production.
PowerDirector Pro 2.5
People looking to get more hands-on with their video before committing it to disc will be interested in PowerDirector Pro 2.5. All the usual capture, edit and output tools are present (see here for a screenshot). In fact, PowerDirector features most of the same CD/DVD authoring facilities as its kid brother. Here, however, the focus is on getting to grips with your footage and jazzing it up with the help of motion effects, transitions and titles.
PowerDirector has some smart features such as scene detection which splits your footage into small chunks. This can be done either during capture or after you’ve imported files into a new project. It also comes with a fast render engine, although this feature’s success largely depends on the processing power of your PC.
The drag-and-drop storyboard approach to arranging clips is common among budget video-editing programs, so the choice of working in a timeline mode would have been a nice addition.
CyberLink has obviously attempted to apply the same no-brainer approach to the editing process it has pulled off successfully in PowerProducer. Sadly, however, many competing brands’ equivalent products seem to do a better job of disguising the complexity of the video-editing process, while offering a wider selection of features in the same price range — one prime example being Pinnacle Studio 8.0.
In brief: If you want to knock up a quick VCD, DVD or slideshow, you won’t find an easier way of doing it than with PowerProducer. PowerDirector 2.5 contains the same disc authoring features along with a whole lot more, but it doesn’t fare terribly well when compared with rival video-editing programs.
Price: $US49.95 for physical shipment, $US39.95 for download
CyberLink PowerDirector Pro 2.5
Price: $US99.95 for physical shipment, $US95.95 for download