Cyberlink PowerDirector 16

Advanced video editing made accessible and fun

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Our Verdict

We've tested a lot of video editing suites, and PowerDirector 16 is the only one that makes the process truly fun. It's entirely up to you how deep you go; the software can automate the entire process if you simply run a clip through the Magic Movie Wizard, or you can get hands-on with one of the other modes. Everything is clearly explained and accessible to users of any level. Highly recommended.

For

  • Intuitive interface
  • Feature-rich editing suite
  • Expandable via plugins

Against

  • Some features are quite hidden away

Video editing can be a complex, time-consuming process, but with Cyberlink PowerDirector 16 it's not only easy – it's great fun, too.

That's not to say PowerDirector 16 is only suitable for beginners – it's a complete video production suite that's packed with advanced tools you'd expect to find in industry-standard software. The difference is that they're packaged in an intuitive, accessible interface that lets you decide how much control you want, depending on your level of experience.

You can make a good-looking video in seconds using the smart Magic Movie Wizard, or dive into the more conventional Timeline mode and explore a wealth of infinitely customizable options. You can go as deep as you want in any stage of the process, or let PowerDirector 16's automate it.

Ways of working

The Magic Movie Wizard is the most extreme example of the latter approach,  turning a set of video clips and still photos into an impressive production that's ready to share with just a few clicks.

Pick your media, choose a style (optional, more are available to download free), choose whether to add background music (and whether to mix it with any existing audio), and set a duration. The software will process your imported media files and provide a preview. This can take a while for longer videos, but it’s incredibly straightforward and the results are impressive.

CyberLink PowerDirector 16 particle effects

PowerDirector 16 includes a particle effects to add a creative touch to your videos. You can stick with the default options, but like every part of the software, they're also amazingly customizable

It’s easy to import media files from your PC, CyberLink Cloud, DirectorZone, Flickr, or download royalty free music from Muserk or Audio Network. You aren't limited to working with video files you've already recorded, either; you can capture footage directly from connected cameras and microphones, your screen, or an optical disc (brilliant if you want to work with old home movies stored on CDs and DVDs). 

Editing and effects

The main editing interface is divided into 'rooms' dedicated to managing your media files, applying effects and transitions, mixing audio, adding titles and subtitles, and splitting projects into chapters.

All transitions and visual effects include animated previews to demonstrate the effect they’ll have on your project. Applying them is as simple as dragging them onto the timeline, then adjusting the duration, but right-clicking will present you with a huge selection of customization settings. This might seem daunting at first, but everything is clearly explained.

PowerDirector 16 content-aware editing

PowerDirector 16's content-aware editing tools help you decide what content to cut from your video and where to make it as engaging as possible

The voice-over recording tool is especially well designed. Speak over the video while it’s playing, and your narration will be saved as a new audio track automatically. You can also mute all audio tracks while recording, fade the recording in or out, and apply a time limit so you aren't speaking for too long.

Encoding and exporting

Encoding video can be a tough process to get your head around, but PowerDirector makes it as simple as possible by dividing the many options into convenient categories and providing plentiful tooltips and descriptions. There are also one-click presets for exporting to sites including Facebook and YouTube.

The disc-burning tool is superb too, though you’ll want to grab some more templates if you want to make menus; the only one provided as standard is Monopoly-themed. You can burn to DVDs, Blu-rays and AVCHD discs in 2D or 3D, and PowerDirector gives you a helpful preview before you commit to making the disc. There’s no need for separate burning software – just click once and the process will start immediately. 

Conclusion

CyberLink PowerDirector 16 makes it possible for anyone to turn clips, photos and direct recordings into something truly impressive, and it's completely adaptable to suit your level of confidence and experience.

If you're looking for something more capable than a free video editor, but the complexity and price tag of tools like Adobe Premier Pro has put you off, this is the tool for you.