Pros / This application has every tool and feature we look for in the best DVD authoring software.
Cons / There is no Mac version of this software, which is unfortunate, since it would be a natural alternative to iMovie.
Verdict / PowerDirector offers an editing and authoring experience that’s both easy to learn and powerful enough to achieve high-quality results.
Editor's note: PowerDirector 16 is now available. Clicking the Buy button will take you to this version for purchase. We will evaluate, rank and review the when we next update the DVD Authoring Software reviews. Meanwhile, enjoy our review below about CyberLink PowerDirector 14.
In our review of the best DVD authoring software, CyberLink PowerDirector earned the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award. And it does so because it combines powerful video editing and DVD maker tools. It allows you to take your raw footage, transform it into a beautiful, entertaining video and then burn it onto a disc that you can share with family and friends.
- Time to Create Test Disc
- Editing Tracks
- Effects and Transitions
- Usability Score
In order to determine which DVD authoring software was the best, we subjected each product on our lineup to a battery of tests. One of these tests included building and burning a test disc using each software application. With PowerDirector, we were able to build our test disc in 10 minutes and burn it to a blank DVD in 25 minutes. These are the fastest creation times of any product on our side-by-side comparison chart.
Even though you can crank out a new DVD quickly, you’ll probably want to take the time to learn how to use all the tools this DVD maker has to offer so you can make a truly personal and polished disc. The DVD menu maker is arguably your most valuable tool to make that happen. It allows you to either design your own menu from scratch or choose from a number of preprogrammed templates, which you can customize to your liking.
Almost all discs that are commercially produced allow you to skip chapters from within the movie and select specific scenes from the disc's menu. PowerDirector gives you the ability to set chapter markers in your movie.
When you’re finished designing your new DVD with PowerDirector, you're ready to burn it to a blank disc. However, you don't have to do that to finish your project. This DVD authoring program allows you to create your DVD's ISO file, or ISO image, and DVD folders, which you can then save to your computer's hard drive. This is a great feature for those who want to archive their projects in the cloud or to an external hard drive.
An ISO image is essentially a blueprint for a DVD which acts as a virtual disc in your computer's DVD-player software. You can also use this type of file to burn new copies of your DVD, even without the benefits of DVD authoring software. You can use DVD folders to burn new discs, but you'll most likely need DVD authoring software or at least DVD burning software to do it.
When our testing was completed, our video experts inspected the DVDs created by each authoring program and searched for imperfections in the video quality. And while no product created a perfect picture, PowerDirector had an advantage over the others: Only minimal distortion and compression artifact in the small details of the video were found, and it's likely that an untrained eye would not detect them.
Video Editing Tools
Even though it has excellent DVD authoring tools, PowerDirector is primarily a video editing application. It contains many of the same tools that industry professionals use to create feature films and network TV shows. Features such as the chroma key (green screen), audio mixer, digital effects, titles, credits, closed captions and more are all available and can be learned and used by anyone willing to invest the time.
And while these tools are not as powerful as those found in professional video editing software, they offer anyone who is willing to learn the ability to create any kind of video they want that can rival the quality of their professionally created counterparts. And when you export the movie onto a disc, you can optimize it for playback in a home theater or even a full-sized one.
The Editing module of PowerDirector has the familiar timeline/storyboard layout. Storyboard is generally considered to be easier for new editors, while the timeline is where more advanced edits take place. The software allows you to switch between the two modes with your edits intact. One of the best ways to learn the basics of video editing is to use storyboard mode to make the broad strokes to your project and switch to timeline mode to fine-tune your video.
The timeline module has 100 editing tracks. This allows you to create extremely complicated projects. Most users will never take full advantage of every editing track; however, if you’re ambitious, there’s nothing stopping you from editing a full-length feature film on your home computer. It wouldn't be "The Avengers," but it might be something that could be accepted into an independent film festival.
Ease of Use
During our evaluation of the best DVD authoring software applications, we examined each product's interface to determine how easy it is to learn and use. Among other things, we tracked how complicated it is to perform common tasks, like performing basic video edits and picking and customizing menu templates, as well as burning a DVD and saving an ISO file. At the end of our testing, PowerDirector had the highest usability score of all the products on our side-by-side comparison matrix.
Even though this software is relatively easy to use, once you know your way around the interface, you will often need instruction on how to use specific tools effectively. CyberLink understands this and provides reams of tutorials and guides on their official website as well as on social media sites like YouTube. You can learn to use every tool found in this product for free so you get the most out of your purchase.
Help & Support
In addition to the tutorials and guides posted on their website, CyberLink provides other avenues for you to get both technical and customer support. The most useful one is their expansive creative community called DirectorZone. When you log in, you’ll find thousands of potential collaborators, teachers and friends. You can also find virtually unlimited content, objects, menus and more designed by other PowerDirector users.
Customer support issues can be resolved by reaching out to the company either through their email ticket system or by phone. However, you may get a faster answer by consulting the FAQs in their knowledgebase or by posting your issue in one of the CyberLink forums.
In our review of the best DVD authoring software, CyberLink PowerDirector came out on top due to its full set of DVD-maker tools as well as a complete array of video editing tools. When combined into the same app, PowerDirector becomes a miniature post-production house, capable of creating high-quality DVD movie discs that you can proudly share with your family and friends.