Cyberlink Powerdirector 15 Review

If you simply like creating videos for fun or if you’re a video content creator, should Cyberlink Powerdirector 15 be your editor of choice?

So for this review I’m going be taking a look at the easy editor first and then taking a deeper dive into the full featured suite. I’ll also be comparing it to my editor of choice which is Adobe Premiere Elements 14 and seeing how it stacks up. Unfortunately I won’t be able to test the 360 editor as I don’t have any footage, but if you want to keep track, this is Powerdirectors first win over Adobe Prem Elements as that doesn’t have 360 video support.

Easy Editor Quick Review

Lets take a quick look at the Easy editor first and its very straight forward. To use it you simply launch the software and select easy mode. You then import whichever video or photo files you want. This done by selecting the folder icon. The actual importing of your photos and video doesn’t take long, which is a bonus. After that you can then choose from 33 different styles of templates, however there is a massive online collection if you don’t like any of the presets.

After choosing your preset theme you then have the option to add music and audio to the video. Once you’ve added any music you then go into a preview section. This can take a while depending on the videos resolution, length and power of your PC. It took a good 20 minutes to do with my Ryzen 7 1700 system. But in all fairness I did use 4K footage. So its likely to be much quicker if you use 1080p video. After the video has done processing you get to watch the video to see if its turned out nicely. You can then either at that point save the video as is or take it into the video editor.

To be honest I’m not a huge fan of the easy editor as to be quite honest it was more complicated to me than the full featured editor.  It’s a little awkward, you clip on clips to edit them and it doesn’t show them, you then try to add more clips and it wouldn’t allow that. Maybe I was using it wrong, but to be honest I couldn’t get to grips with it. But in reality I spent most of my time in the full suite, which is why Easy Mode editors are alien to me.

But anyway, once you’ve done your edits you can save your video and share it online. Or if you require, you can take it into the full suite to perform even more edits to the clip.

final-step

Again being honest I didn’t like the easy mode as I found it to be a little long-winded and the easy mode editor was not all that good. With more time and practice I maybe would’ve liked it more, but when you’re used to having a big video timeline its a hard thing to get out of. If you’re an experienced editor you’ll probably understand what I mean.

But as a whole I’d rather use the full editor as its much quicker (for me) and you can preview your video as you are creating it. I can see Easy Modes appeal and if you skip the editor section its a simple to use and you can get some nice effects from it. You could even use it to make a YouTube video intro if you wanted to. But as a content creator for me it’s not so good. However taking my opinion off the table if you want to make a cool video to share on Facebook I could see its benefit.

Full Feature Editor Review

The full editor suite is to again be honest, where I and most other content creators would be spending their time. So here is my breakdown of it. I’ll start with the basics and then move onto what I like, then move onto what is just okay and then of course onto the areas I think need changing or improving.

The interface is nicely laid out, easy to navigate and honestly I grasped it quicker than I did my first time using Adobe. All the settings and options are at the top, the media, effects, text are on the left hand side. The media preview window is large and allows you to see of course your video as it changes. You then have your timeline below, this is where you’d add your video, music, audio to and begin creating. Just above that is a toolbar for making edits, but more on that later. As a whole it’s nicely organized and you should find it easy to pick up and get going.

full-featured-editor

Getting started with the actual edit is really easy, it’s mostly a drag and drop affair and I found that I could use the basic functions within 10 minutes and keep in mind this is coming solely from Adobes editor. Importing files is easy, you simply click on ‘File’ then select the import option and that’s it really. If you want to add additional files, simply drag and drop onto the media section.

Making edits and cuts to your video is a straight forward as Adobe and there are a few ways to do so. You can either click the split icon or right-click and split. I found clinking the split icon worked best for me. Also re-sizing the clip is easy to. You go to the end and hover over it, you can then drag left or right to change the length. I also think the auto gap fill is pretty handy, Adobe has this too, but with Powerdirector there are a few more options. When making a split you have the option to leave the gap as is, or to fill it in. This is done by selecting and deleting the clip you want to remove. This is good and for me it meant I could quickly fill in spaces without the need to drag the footage. Again its just a small thing but its great for improving flow.

You also have some easy ways to adjust opacity and audio gain. This is done by hovering over the footage and dragging up or down, this will make the photo or video opaque. Again its the same for audio gain and you can even fade in or out the audio doing the same thing. You can even adjust levels of a certain point on the audio, so if it’s too loud, you can drop the gain and bring it down. This is something you can do with Adobe as well, but its easier on Powerdirector and is great for really fine tuning your audio.

Another handy feature is the quick crossfade, this is done by dragging one clip over another. So if you aren’t a fan of fancy transitions, this would be a quick way to do that without having to dive into the transitions page.

quick-crossfade-feature

Positives

Lets talk about what I like about this software and the first thing is only a small thing but it really helps. That is a video check mark. Once you’ve added a file it lets you know by adding a check mark next to it. Again it’s so simple but it stops you from adding duplicate files to your video. I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that on Premiere Elements. So it’s a handy little feature.

check-marks

The next plus for me is the media playback. Even at 4K the playback is so much smoother than in Adobe. Even using the same system, its less choppy and it makes viewing your edits that much nicer. It’s also better when you’ve added effects as that causes even more choppiness and stuttering in Adobe, whereas here with Powerdirector it does not. A big win in my book.

Next big plus is the transitions and text. These are in ways better than Adobes and in a way worse. There are as many to choose from if not more, but they don’t seem to be as good quality. By that I mean they animations are cool, but they just don’t seem as high quality in their visual appearance. It’s hard to explain but they aren’t as crisp. On the plus side the transitions are better in terms of what you can do with them. There are better stylized options to choose from and the effects look cooler, just not as polished. It’s the same with the text, its more plentiful (if you download them) but again they aren’t quite as sharp as Adobe.

Adding them is easy enough as it’s all drag a drop based and you can even tweak the transition style and duration.  The text editor is great to and is more full featured than Adobes offering. Its simple to use and you can pretty much tweak it to however you want.

Another plus is the colour correction and grading tools. Its not obvious at first where it is, but you can access one variant using the fix/enhance option on the toolbar. This lets you adjust a few things like lens correction and video stabilizer. Again this is good things as you can really go to town and fix any problems with your footage. You can then access colour correction tools by right clicking on the footage you want and selecting the ‘edit clip keyframe’ option. You then select edit/enhance to go into the deeper settings. You then have some great tools to colour correct and grade your footage. This is where its in another league to Premiere Elements.

The final plus point I’d like to mention is the audio editing, now if you already use Audacity then its something I wouldn’t use. But if you don’t it a great tool and is pretty well featured. You can pretty much change all aspects of your audio and then some. So if you aren’t happy with it, simply right-click the audio and open it in the wave editor. I would have preferred this built-in to make it quicker, but I understand why they’ve made it an additional piece of software. Again this is better than what Adobe offers in their suite. Adobes is a little easier to use and understand, but it’s nowhere near as full featured.

audio-editor

Neutral

The first not bad point as such, but it’s not good either is, when scrubbing 4K there is a little bit of jerkiness and the footage seems to move back and forth or up and down, its odd (its like a wobble) and something I haven’t experienced before. Nothing happens as such, but its something I thought I’d mention. Also Adobe has a cool feature where you can hear the audio being played back as you scrub through the footage, this isn’t a feature on Powerdirector, but it does make things a little easier when making tight cuts.

Another neutral point is adding text and other video to your timeline. Now I know I’ve said its easy, but it is a little counter intuitive. Instead of building layers upwards like you do in Adobe, you place text, other footage etc underneath your main video. It’s a little strange as again it’s not what I’m used to. So its not a bad point, just unusual and takes some getting used to. The image below illustrates the point.

text-underneath

The next and final neutral point is there is no fade to black transition built-in. Now I could have simply overlooked this or it may need downloading. Again its more a personal issue than anything as I like having this effect to transfer between light and dark footage. So it may not even concern you, but not having a basic transition like this is an issue for me.

Negatives

When adding an effect, some of them edit audio and cause it to either cross with the other audio or even lower the volume of the audio. There is no mute or remove feature to get rid of this and the only option is to un-link the audio and video and then move the audio away from the transition. If you know what to do, it’s not a major issue, but newcomers may not be aware of this. So its not a massive negative, but I’d rather it not be feature in the first place, than have to perform a work around.

The only other real bad point of the software I could find was there is no option to crop my video. I can expand and shrink it, but the option to crop is not available. Not sure why, but it simply will not let me crop a video. Again this is a basic function that is for some reason unavailable.

no-cropping

Final Thoughts

My closing thoughts are that I am very impressed with this software and I actually didn’t even mention how fast it is. I rendered a 7:48 video from 4K to 1080p @ 16 mbps in a really quick time of 3 minutes 21 seconds. My system specs are a Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB DDR4, a 1TB seagate Firecuda and 256GB Sandisk SSD. It manged to do the same video but rendered at 4K 50mbps in just 7 minutes 11 seconds. Compare that to Adobe times of

  • 1080p = 7 minutes 11 seconds
  • 4K = 10 minutes 25 seconds

And keep in mind all output settings were the same, as well as the SSD and HDD it was rendering from and to. So you can see its much quicker at rendering than Adobe. Factor in all the other features its quite easy to recommend this software. Its got more features than Adobe, more additional downloads, is quicker to render and is cheaper. Speaking of cheaper this pack can be found on Amazon for £39 (at the time of this review). Compare that to Adobes cost of £79 and the value is there. Adobe does have a newer version of their software which has more features, but I can only compare it to what I’ve got. Even so I still think Cyberlink is better value for money.

So should you buy it, well. Yes. Its cheaper than a lot of other software, more feature packed and does everything Adobe does and more. Yes it has a few issues, but so does Adobe and I think the positives outweigh the negatives quite heavily. All in all, it could be the best value video editor you can buy right now.

Score 8/10

Get Cyberlink Powerdirector via Amazon UK

CyberLink PowerDirector 15 Ultra – The No.1 Choice For Video Editors (PC)

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