PowerDirector 5

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, March 2006
Published by: Cyberlink
Requires: Microsoft Windows 2000 or WinXP; AVI Capture/Produce: Pentium II/450MHz or AMD Athlon 500MHz or faster; VCD Quality (MPEG-1) Profiles: Pentium III/600MHz or AMD Athlon 700 MHz or faster; DVD Quality (MPEG-2) Capture/Produce: Pentium 4 2.2GHz or AMD Athlon XP 2200+ or faster; High Quality MPEG-4 and Streaming WMV, QuickTime, RealVideo, DivX) Profiles: Pentium 4 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon XP 2400+ or faster; MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-2 HD Profiles: Pentium 4 3.0GHz with HyperThreading or AMD Athlon 64 or faster; PowerDirector 5 is optimized for CPU with Dual Core, MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNow!, and HyperThreading technology; 512MB RAM, 4GB available hard drive space (15GB for DVD production)
MSRP: US$89.95

When I initially received the review notification for PowerDirector 5 I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to review it. More and more I'm finding myself drawn away from video and motion images. However as I began to work with PowerDirector I did enjoy getting to grips with what I consider to be an excellent consumer and video and DVD authoring package.

PowerDirector is easy to use with a four stage process for creating and burning your productions and DVDs. The four main activities—Capture, Edit, Produce and Burn—all take place within the same interface. As you move through each stage, only the relevant tools appear providing you with a fairly trouble free interface for your production.

Capture immediately identifies supported devices connected to your PC, allowing you to capture media for inclusion in your project. Remarkably, it immediately identified that I had a TV capture card, a webcam, DVD player and video camera. Capturing was really easy and trouble free, though in trolling the online forums, I did come across a lot of users complaining about a lack of support for particular devices. I did not have problems. If you are considering PowerDirector 5, contact CyberLink to find out if your device is supported.


Edit consists of seven virtual rooms which allow you to add content, apply effects, add titles, apply transitions, mix audio, apply voiceover/narration and define production chapters or scenes. Content which is added in the Media Room can consist of audio, video, still images and color boards. There are 57 special effect filters available to assign to your content in order to achieve that look you desire. The text and titling features are fairly easy to use with 41 title templates and a Title Designer which allows you to define text attributes, styles and properties and also title animation characteristics (which are limited to beginning and ending behaviors in this version).

The Transitions room features over 143 transitions, which are really very easy to apply. The audio mixing and voiceover rooms are pretty basic but effective nonetheless, though you will no doubt need a microphone to create narrations or descriptive voiceovers. The final room is where you decide how chapters are defined, There are three basic settings for this and again it's easy to use.

The workspace which includes the now traditional production timeline, also features six utilities for working with content. Not all these utilities appear at once as they are dynamically linked to the type of content currently selected. These utilities are Magic Clean, Magic Cut, Magic Fix, Magic Motion, Magic Music and Magic Style. Each utility performs a clearly defined role in the PowerDirector tool kit.

Magic Clean is designed to very effectively enhance your production video and image-based source material. The test footage I tried came out looking sharper, brighter and more vibrant. Magic Clean also does an excellent job of removing unwanted noise. The split view preview showing before & after views is especially useful and a must in any application doing this kind of clean up. The white balance features and audio cleaning capabilities are very well implemented and a pleasure to use. I had some footage with a constant hum in the audio track and Magic Clean all but eliminated the problem.

Magic Cut in essence acts as a smart editor by removing static and uneventful scenes from your clips. It allows you to automatically select scenes based upon a number of predefined criteria, all of which are automatically calculated into the mix when Magic Cut analyzes your footage. The Scenes with Moving Object feature is excellent, allowing you to use a slider to determine just how much movement to allow into your footage. This is an excellent feature for the amateur videographer, but not ideal for the pro who will most likely opt for a higher-end solution anyway. The audio capabilities for this tool have also been well handled with the addition of a feature which matches your footage to the length of your background music or soundtrack.

Magic Fix is really very straightforward in that it allows you to repair imperfections in your source materials, including red eye, poor focusing and camera shake. Although not entirely foolproof, this feature is quite simple and effective when used carefully.

Magic Motion is great for inserting and applying motion effects to your still images or footage. This capability can be used automatically or manually and with a fine level of definition. It's an excellent feature for creating motion presentations from digital images such as holiday snaps, family events and school projects. Intercutting between video and still imagery can create a great sense of focus and style. It'll be interesting to see how this feature is improved as PowerDirector is updated as it already does a good job.

Magic Music uses SmartSound Technology to compose theme music for your video based upon a genre which you select. This was to me the least satisfying of the tools in the application as the royalty free library which comes with Power director is somewhat weak. Of course you can also use your own music via the media room, an option which I definitely prefer.

Magic Style allows you to apply a visual style to your footage. With it you can apply one of 12 thematic styles including vacation, birthday, romance, fast motion and old movie. Old movie was a fave as it runs your footage through a filter which creates a sepia look and adds scratches and noise to enhance the aging effect. The styles are well implemented but some of the templates need a little work as they are somewhat unrefined and show some artifacts as they blend with your source footage.

Many of these features are well done and show some promise and what's more are fast to use. The interface is really quite basic and therein lies its strengths it helps us to work with the software pretty much as the developers intended, allowing you to achieve your production goals.

The final phase of creating your DVD or video with PowerDirector 5 requires you to produce and burn your project, both of which the software performed with little or no trouble. I created a DVD of an old project I had which needed to be archived and created a menu for the DVD so that I could navigate through the project easily. PowerDirector 5 did it all without a hiccup—a very satisfying end to a few hours of playing with this excellent application.

Cons: Some of the templates and styles need to be refined. I'm not entirely won over by the interface. The text handling could also do with some work in its implementation as well as its user interface.

Pros: Easy to use and configure. Plenty of transitions, effects and features. It hits its target right on the nose—home, home-office, and SOHO users. PowerDirector 5 is a powerful consumer-centric video and DVD authoring tool, and with its support of video formats like MPEG2/4, DIVX, DVD and several HD compliant formats, it proves itself to be quite powerful. If you are an enthusiast looking to easily create short promotional videos, home movies and DVDs then look no further. I recommend PowerDirector 5.

KSN Product Rating:





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