PROS / This program helps beginners learn the basics of video editing without sacrificing the needs of more advanced users.
CONS / There is no Mac version of this software. Apple customers would be well served by having an alternative to iMovie.
VERDICT / With the power of a full-featured editor and the ease of an entry-level program, PowerDirector 15 Deluxe is an ideal program for beginners and casual users.
PowerDirector 15 Deluxe by CyberLink has topped our rankings of the best video editing software since we started reviewing the category. It does so because it strikes the delicate balance of making the program accessible to new and novice users without sacrificing the functionality and tools that hobbyists, prosumers and professionals demand. It has again earned the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
This editing software offers three main ways to create your video projects. You can use the Full Feature Editor, which is the familiar timeline, or storyboard, layout used by industry professionals since time immemorial. But in case you're not ready to jump into that quite yet, there's also a simplified editor that automatically creates a video for you in just minutes. Additionally, you can use the express project module that allows you to fill in preprogrammed templates with your own content, which teaches you how to use the Full Feature Editor to its fullest potential.
The Full Feature Editor contains simplified versions of nearly all the tools available to professional video editors. For example, you have access to an audio mixer that lets you fine-tune your sound, the chroma key that allows you to create green-screen effects, and even a surround-sound configurator that optimizes your video for home entertainment systems and even movie theaters. These tools and more allow you to make the same type of videos as Hollywood professionals. PowerDirector is a great program not only for creating great videos, but also for learning nonlinear editing in case you decide to upgrade to professional video editing programs.
The Easy Editor launches the Magic Movie Wizard to help you create a finished video in just a few minutes. All you have to do is load the clips you want in the video, select the style of video and pick your background music. The program then analyzes your footage with its Magic Style algorithms to pick out the best shots in your footage and arrange them into a finished project. When you preview this generated video, you have the option to do some fine-tuning in the Full Feature Editor.
The Express Projects module offers a library of preprogrammed video templates to choose from. PowerDirector walks you through sorting your footage, choosing the best shots for your video and letting you experiment with where to place footage in the template. This is important for two reasons: First, it allows beginner and novice users the opportunity to complete a project without being intimidated by the complexity of the software; second, it does so in a way that teaches you to use the tools in the Full Feature Editor, making the jump that much easier.
All the other tools you would expect from consumer-level video editing software are present and work excellently. You can add titles, closed captions and other text to your video project with a few simple clicks. You also get a video stabilizer that smooths out shaky video, as well as a library of over 500 effects and transitions for you to choose from.
One new feature added to PowerDirector Deluxe is True Theater Color, which analyzes the color of your footage and enhances aspects like hue, saturation and brightness. It's a great way to get Hollywood-style color treatment on your video project. Even at the entry level, you get more than enough tools to create a video that looks like it could have been made in a movie studio. You may never edit a full-length feature film with this software, but you could.
Ease of Use
The great thing about this video editing software is that anyone can use it, regardless of their general computer skills or video editing skills in particular. If you can install and launch the program, all you need to do is follow the learning path created by CyberLink in the form of Express Projects. If you're a more advanced user, you can bypass the training wheels and find the tools you're already familiar with are present, powerful and intuitive.
While this program is a great tool for computers that run Windows, CyberLink has not released a Mac-compatible version. The sheer breadth of tools and its usability would make PowerDirector a great alternative to iMovie.
Editing is only part of the story with PowerDirector. Once your video is finished, you need to get it in front of an audience. This could be your friends and family through social media, the whole world via video-sharing sites like YouTube, or any individual you wish by burning a disc. PowerDirector has robust solutions for all of these situations.
The most basic way to produce a finished project is to export it as a video file. You can then use this file as a master copy of your video and keep it for archiving purposes. But you can also manually upload that file to various internet sites where it can be seen and shared. However, you can skip that step by uploading your finished project directly to YouTube, Facebook, Dailymotion and other sharing sites from within the program's interface. It allows you to input all the necessary information, metadata, descriptions and keywords needed to optimize your video so as many people see it as possible.
There are times that you won't want to share your video with the entire world. Burning a disc of your video is an excellent way to finish and personalize your creation. PowerDirector comes with several menu-creation templates, but it also allows you to build custom menus. You also have the ability to add chapters to your videos and features such as subtitles for the hearing impaired. You can create a disc for any purpose, whether it be as a gift for family, a screener for an independent film or a professional presentation for colleagues.
Help & Support
As easy as CyberLink makes this product to use, there may be times that you need help. To that end, the company established DirectorZone, a community of videographers, filmmakers and aspiring editors. This allows you to connect with, collaborate with and learn from other video makers. DirectorZone is the perfect resource for editors of all skill levels.
CyberLink also offers a full array of support options. You can get your questions answered by posting in one of its forums, submitting an email support ticket, or watching its free tutorials on its website or YouTube channel.
PowerDirector 15 Deluxe topped our review of the best video editing software because it's easy to use for beginners, causal users and seasoned editors alike. It provides all the tools you need to transform the footage on your camera into a polished video you can share with family and friends easily. This program is designed to help you learn video editing without compromising the power of the tools it offers.