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CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra review

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra is a good, if expensive, video editor for both beginners and advanced users.

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra review
(Image: © Cyberlink)

Our Verdict

With the power of a full-featured editor and the ease of an entry-level program, PowerDirector 18 Ultra is an ideal program for beginners and casual users. Unless you own a Mac.

For

  • Easy to use
  • Very scaleable
  • So many features

Against

  • No Mac version
  • Expensive

CyberLink PowerDirector has been among the best video editing software for years, and 18 is another strong version of the program, even though we've bumped it down our overall list. It offers three main ways to create your home movies: there is a Full Feature Editor, which is the familiar timeline design seen in other editors. You can also use the storyboard layout, if you're more confident. If you're just starting out, however, there's also Auto Mode that automatically creates a video for you in just minutes with just a handful of inputs required. It's a good way to ease you in.

The Full Feature Editor contains simplified versions of nearly all the tools available in professional editing programs. 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 a surround-sound configurator that optimizes your video for home entertainment systems and even movie theaters. These tools and others 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 non-linear editing in case you decide to upgrade to professional video editing programs. However, because it's expensive, you might be better placed trying DaVinci Resolve, which is equally powerful and totally free.

Auto Mode 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.

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra review

(Image credit: Cyberlink)

Within the timeline editor, you can access the Express Projects module. It offers a library of pre-programmed 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. However, it may be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. To access this feature, click on the puzzle-piece icon at the top of your media bin and select Express Projects.

Express Projects are 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. You can add titles, closed captions and other text to your video project with a few simple clicks. The chroma key (green-screen) works flawlessly. 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.

PowerDirector Ultra 18 features CyberLink’s True Theater Color technology, 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. 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 likely could.

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra review

(Image credit: Cyberlink)

While this program is a great tool for computers that run Windows, CyberLink has not released a Mac-compatible version. This seems like an oversight, given how many video editors use Macs.

While PowerDirector has great tools that help newbies learn the ropes of video editing software, it also has powerful advanced tools to take your videos to the next level. PowerDirector 18 is capable of importing, editing ultra-HD 4K video resolution, even in 360 video. Additionally, this video editor features an integrated action cam center that eliminates the need to edit footage captured with cameras in a separate application and importing them into PowerDirector.

PowerDirector includes a module that allows you to manipulate 360-degree video. This tool can set anchor points, pan and zoom through your footage, add effects, and stabilize shaky recordings. You can even add 360-degree titles that match your footage perfectly, rather than trying to warp a regular title to fit. And with the view designer, you can convert 360-degree videos to work with conventional projects.

Another great advanced tool found in PowerDirector Ultra is the multi-cam module. This allows you to import footage of an event taken from multiple sources, sync them up and then switch between angles easily. The result is a seamless single video that has the look and feel of a professionally produced piece. This is especially useful for events that have been recorded on several smartphones.

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 Ultra review

(Image credit: Cyberlink)

The motion tracking tool is great for advanced editors who want to give their videos a special look. It allows you to isolate a moving object, person or other element and then apply effects that will follow them through the video. This is good for situations such as when you want to brighten up the colors on a person but keep the background the way it is, or even change it to black and white.

One of the newer tools found in PowerDirector is the ability to make nested sequences. This means that you can create a sequence and save it as a single clip in your media bin. You can quickly access commonly used elements. For example, if you’re making a series of videos that have the same intro or outro, you can save it as a nested sequence and easily drop it on the timeline. This is superior to exporting a sequence as single clip because you’ll have the option to expand the sequence and make edits unique to each project. 18 Ultra also features a bunch of performance and user enhancements, to make life a little easier, like volume meter display, larger thumbnails, and an improved title designer.

PowerDirector helps you enhance your footage with Intelligent Color Correction. This allows you to quickly and easily match color settings across your entire project, which unifies the look and feel of your video and eliminates a lot of guesswork. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s a real bonus for video editing software at the consumer level.

PowerDirector Ultra is a good choice for video editing software because it's easy and enjoyable 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. This program helps you learn video editing without compromising the power of the tools it offers. While it doesn't offer the same tutorials as rivals, and it is more expensive, it's a good all-round option whatever your skill level. The latest comes with incremental changes, rather than genuine steps-forward, so you should consider carefully whether you choose to upgrade or not. For newcomers, though, it's a solid choice.