Review: CyberLink PowerDirector 9 Ultra64

November 22, 2010 – 10:01 by in Reviews Print Share 24 Comments
Overview
Manufacturer: CyberLink
Price (RRP): $99.95
Best Price: $79.95 (save 20%)
Platforms: Windows XP, Vista, 7, (32 or 64-bit)
Requirements: 5GB hard drive space/ 10GB (20 GB recommended) for DVD production/ 60GB (100GB recommended) for BD/AVCHD production
Softwarecrew Rating:
 
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It’s the first law of home movies: no matter how good your camera, or how skilled you are in using it, your first raw footage of any event will generally be poor.

A good video editor can quickly polish your movie and fix any problems, of course.  But choosing the right one can can be a problem, because most are expensive, complicated, or both. Fortunately, there is hope. CyberLink PowerDirector has always been a powerful, yet easy to use and low-cost video editor, and the new PowerDirector 9 Ultra64 improves it still further with a host of major new features and all-important speed improvements.

Notably there’s a native 64-bit editor, for instance, allowing the program to take advantage of all your RAM (if you’re running 64-bit Windows). Enhanced multithreading capabilities and GPU acceleration speed up many operations, you’ve a flexible 100-track timeline, new effects and templates, a powerful audio editing tool and more.

The program appeals immediately with its familiar interface: a collection of media files on the left, preview window to the right, timeline below.  If you’ve ever used a Windows video editor then you’ll feel immediately at home.

You’re an editing beginner? Just look around. Check above your media files, say, you’ll see four buttons: “Capture”, “Edit”, “Produce” and “Create Disc”.  Hmm, could they be the various stages of the editing process?  Tooltips confirm this, and a quick click on each button lets you preview these PowerDirector areas.   It’s all very straightforward.

And if you drag and drop a media file onto the timeline then more buttons appear, each highlighting a common task: “Trim”, “Fix/ Enhance”, “Edit Audio”, and so on.   Again, tooltips explain each button’s purpose, and you can click anything that looks interesting to find out more.

This isn’t quite perfect.  In particular, the program’s Help file is relatively short, and not context-sensitive.  So if you select a movie, click Trim and press [F1] then precisely nothing will happen. You must close the Trim window, press [F1] and search for Trim in Help to locate what you need.

Still, the core interface design is so good that this doesn’t really matter, at least initially.  Five minutes of pointing, clicking, dragging and dropping and most people will understand the PowerDirector basics, and that’s a considerable improvement on most of the competition.

Import

The editing process starts by importing your media into PowerDirector 9, then, and there are several ways to make this happen.

A comprehensive Capture module can capture content directly from DVD, HDV and AVCHD camcorders, along with many other audio and video sources: TV tuner cards, webcams, microphones, CDs, DVDs and more.

The program imports video files in many formats – HD MPEG-2, DVR-MS, DV-AVI, DAT, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, VOB, VRO, ASF, WMV, WMV-HD, MOV, MOD, TOD, AVCHD (M2T),MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), VOB, VRO with Dolby Digital 5.1ch/2ch, Canon and Nikon’s DSLR Video – with new MKV and FLV input support in this version.

Audio import options are limited, by comparison (MP3, WMA, WAV, M4A). And image import is mostly restricted to the essentials (GIF, BMP, JPG, TIF, PNG), although version 9 enhances this with support for many RAW formats.

And the program can access photos directly from your Flickr account, or you can easily search the site and download anything that suits your needs.

It won’t be long before your PowerDirector media library is packed with files, then.  Fortunately you can also filter the library by file type, view thumbnails or file details, and sort your media in various ways, so it’s generally easy to keep things in order.

100 Track Timeline

Just as in most other video editors, you’ll probably begin your movie-making project by dragging and dropping your media files onto a timeline.  And the new PowerDirector 9 timeline makes this far more straightforward than in previous versions.

Drag a clip this time, for instance, and there are no hidden rules that say it must be placed on the first track, or at the beginning of the timeline: you can drop it anywhere, on any video track, just as you’d expect.

And while you can have up to 100 tracks, PowerDirector includes many new management options to help you keep order.

So you’re able to select multiple clips, say, then “Group” them, allowing you to move the entire set around the timeline as a block.

You can also resize video tracks, expanding anything important for easier viewing, shrinking others to save space.  You might reorder tracks by dragging and dropping.  And an option to delete empty tracks helps you reduce any clutter.

Put it all together  and the new timeline should give most people a major productivity boost: it’s a significant improvement on previous versions.

Editing Basics

Your newly-imported clips can now be cleaned up in several ways.

The Trim and Multi Trim options allow you to zoom in on unwanted sections of each clip, for instance, removing them with pinpoint accuracy.

The “Fix/ Enhance” section includes tools to remove noise and compensate for lighting problems, as well as a video stabiliser.

Elsewhere are options to tweak colour temperature, brightness, contrast, hue and saturation, while a Video Enhancement tool uses a smart upsampling algorithm (the same TrueTheater HD technology that CyberLink use in their PowerDVD media player) that does an excellent job of enhancing video quality.

And the big news this time around is these effects don’t have to be applied to the entire duration of a clip: you can instead create keyframes that define exactly where they’ll occur, for much more flexible and precise editing, another significant upgrade.

Plenty of Effects

If you’d like to dress up your movie a little then PowerDirector comes with 105 video effects (and there are many more available for download). Most aren’t exactly subtle, but they’re easy to use: just drag and drop them onto the timeline and they’ll immediately be applied to your footage.

We were more impressed with the transition effects, 156 in total: all the fades, page curls, slides and wipes that you could possibly need. PowerDirector 9 provides more ways to use them, too.

You can now have pre-transition and post-transition effects, for instance (transitions that occur at the very beginning or end of a clip). And a transition between two clips can now be one of two types: an overlap, where parts of the two clips play over each other while the transition takes place, or a cross, where one clip ends, the transition occurs, and the next clip begins.  It’s a useful extra option.

You also get a Picture In Picture (PiP) Objects room, where you insert objects – a birthday cake, rose, umbrella, whatever’s appropriate for the clip – into your movie. You can then tweak the look of the object, give it a custom path to define how it flies through the frame, apply chroma key, add shadows, borders and more – it’s all very impressive.

A Particle Room uses even more configurable particle animation options to let you add animated snow, fire, fireworks and other effects to your movies.

Elsewhere are capable, if slightly basic Titles options; an audio mixing room allows you to tweak audio balance and volume; the Chapter room can automatically create chapters for your DVD and Blu-ray discs; and the subtitle room provides an easy way to build subtitles into your video.

Occasionally these options are tricky to use, then, but still, there’s a great deal of power here. Take the time to master these features and you’ll be able to produce some very professional movies.

An Easier Life

Not everyone has the time or inclination to spend an age messing around with a video editor, of course. Fortunately PowerDirector also provides simpler ways to create quality movies with the absolute minimum of effort.

The Magic Movie Wizard, for instance, imports your selection of images and movies, and optionally adds an audio file as your soundtrack.

You get to choose a theme for the finished video, which defines the effects and graphics that will be applied.  There are all the usual options – birthday, vacation, wedding, party and so on – and PowerDirector 9 extends these with new 3D templates.  Choose “Gallery”, say, and the program will generate a 3D view of an art gallery with your images hanging on the walls.

And in a click or two the wizard will automatically produce a movie for you. The results are variable – sometimes good, sometimes not – but they’re so easy to produce it’s worth a try: once you’ve found a theme you like, you can have a slideshow created in just a few moments.

You also get a Magic Music option which will generate a soundtrack for you, and we found this more interesting. You’re able to choose from a wide range of musical styles – jazz, classical, new age, soundtrack – most of which can be varied in a click or two.  Preview these to find one you like, then set the duration you require, drag and drop it onto an audio track, and you’re done – a classy, professional soundtrack with no effort at all.

Output Options

It’s taken a while, but after much effort, your masterpiece is finally complete and it’s time to share it with the world.

The easiest way to go about this is to have PowerDirector 9 directly upload the clip to your YouTube or Facebook accounts, in anything up to Full HD quality (1920×1080).

The program can also save your creation as a video file in a variety of formats (AVI, MPEG-1/2/4, H.264 AVC, WMV, MOV, audio).  You can choose one of these at a click, or create a new profile with your own choice of resolution, frame rate, bit rate and more. It’s very flexible, although once again there’s a lack of documentation about what the various settings do.

New in PowerDirector 9 is the option to render your movie to a mobile device-friendly video format.  There are profiles for smartphones, say, along with Apple, Sony or Microsoft devices, amongst others: just pick a profile, choose your target device and the program will create a suitable file for you.

And the final option is to burn your video straight to a VCD, DVD, Blu-ray or AVCHD disc.  You get to customise the content, by optionally adding other videos to the one you’ve just created. Then you can apply a menu template from the small selection on offer (but if they’re not enough, you can always download one from DirectorZone, or create one for yourself).

Set preferences like the encoding quality, audio encoding format and so on, and one more click on the Burn button will set PowerDirector 9 to creating your disc.  With CUDA support available it’s generally a quick and flexible process that should have a high quality disc ready for you in very little time.

Other Features

We’ve discussed many of the PowerDirector 9 features that you’ll see as you use the program, but there are others, less obvious, that are also worth considering.

TrueVelocity, for instance, is a collection of new CyberLink technology that work to enhance the program’s performance. TrueVelocity 64, the 64-bit version of the program, allows PowerDirector to take full advantage of all the RAM installed on a 64-bit Windows PC. Essential if you want to work with High Definition video and export your video as a Blu-ray movie.

TrueVelocity Parallel makes better use of multiple processor cores and threads for improved speeds, and TrueVelocity Accelerator uses GPU-based hardware acceleration (both NVIDIA and ATI technologies are supported) for some effects, and when rendering videos, for an extra boost.

The program now includes WaveEditor, a simple audio editing tool.  You can manually trim parts of your soundtrack, or apply a few effects (volume boost and fade, change speed, pitch shift, noise reduction and so on).  These aren’t anything too special, but the ability to use VST plugins gives you access to many more useful audio processing freebies.

And there’s also support for burning movies to the new multi-layer Blu-ray format, BDXL.  These discs can hold up to 128GB of data, which should be enough to hold even your most lengthy Full HD projects.

Final Thoughts

PowerDirector 9 has a few minor flaws with the ineffective help system – but these are tiny compared to the lengthy list of reasons to like the program.  An intuitive interface means your editing project will quickly be under way, despite the dubious documentation, for instance; the new timeline will make you more productive; and good all-round performance ensures delays are kept to a minimum.

There’s also a sizeable selection of effects included, with thousands more available for free online.

And you get an excellent selection of output options, with easy disc burning tools, and highly customisable video profiles to ensure the final movie precisely suits your needs.

Put it all together, then, and PowerDirector 9 represents a major upgrade for the program.  And it’s now a very strong competitor in the consumer video editing market, even when compared with big names like Adobe Premiere Elements. If your home movies need a little extra polish, then give the program a try, and see just how much it can do for you.

Download the CyberLink PowerDirector 9 Ultra64 trial

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Verdict:
Fast, easy to learn and with a stack of new features, PowerDirector 9 Ultra64 is a major leap forward for the package, making it a great way to add a professional touch to your movies
We Like:
Good performance, more flexible 100-track timeline, generally intuitive interface, access to thousands of effects, automatic soundtrack generator, 64-bit editing, excellent audio/ video correction tools, powerful output options
We Don't Like:
Help system not context sensitive and lacks detail, some bundled effects are gimmicky, keyframe editing can become overly complex
Softwarecrew Rating:
 

24 Comments »

  • Linda Caricofe says:

    I LOVE Power Director. I have Power Director 8 which is very user friendly. So, as soon as I was able to upgrade to Power Director 9 , I did so..however , 2 days later , not only do I not have my Power Director 8 anymore due to it deleting so the 9 can be added, but, Internet Explorer and Windows will not allow it to open. The link Cyblerlink customer service emailed to re install it , did not work…so, I took steps as directed on the net, to stop firewall so it will load, no way, still won’t. I do Linda’s Shop Talk videos for Ruby Lane , so, I am truly at a loss…being without my fabulous Power Director is almost like being without my favorite toy . I am still a fan of the Power Director though . If you want a fabulous video editor , that is user friendly , this is it. Best wishes , Linda

  • Chris Wiles says:

    Hi Linda, if you have problems with a CyberLink product, let us know your customer support reference number and we’ll try and escalate the query on your behalf.

    Chris.

  • David Kline says:

    What about the reliability or lack of crashes?
    I have used PD since V4, because I have JVC Camcorders which output a proprietary .tod format file which only PD and Pinnacle can edit.
    Each version – 4, 5, 7, and now 8 – crashes regularly. Worse, they crash and destroy previous work. After 5 years of frustration, I am ready to try something else.
    Does anyone else have this reilability issue with Power Director?

    Thanks for the info.
    David Kline

  • Chris Wiles says:

    Hi David,

    CyberLink PowerDirector is a popular product – TopTenReviews voted it their number one consumer video editor and PD9 keeps this crown. Are you sure that the crashing might be system specific, rather than PowerDirector? Software is dynamic, it performs differently on each computer depending on what you have installed etc etc.

    Try the latest PD9. There’s a brand new build due 3rd of December, so try it next Monday?

    Chris.

  • Mike O'Field says:

    This is a very cool product and it is much better than its previous versions. I like the flexibility of the timeline, and the speed of the video rendering. The new transition design allows me to arrange transition more efficiently. I also like the SVRT that render my video really fast if I only do a little editing then output.The best part of this app, instead of the editing features, is the DirectorZone website operated by CyberLink. On the website it claims 100,000 effects and objects available for download. But I have to say you can only see the top rated ones. It’s free, so I have nothing to complain.

  • walter says:

    Hoi every boddy,
    I like to say , i’m also many years, user of Power Director 5-6-7and now Power Director 8 Ultra , but i’m realy disappointed, that Cyberlink with the release of the new Power Director 9 Ultra ,has excluded the “Rotation tool” in the editing- timeline! I find this a step backwards, because of the reccording
    in 16:9 videoformat, i’s essential to have this option to rotate the files that are maked “vertical”.
    I hope they make steps , to bring the “rotatoion tool” back later, with a update !

    Walter.

  • AppleLink says:

    I have purchased this software and tried this on my Core i7 system with Win7 64 bits.
    It’s really cool that I can imported several HD videos (1080p H.264 files) to the the timeline to create a TV wall like video. Most of all, the preview experience is smooth even in HD review mode.
    Another cool feature is the new 3D MagicMovie templates which really helps me create cool stylish videos easily.

  • Mike O'Field says:

    Hi Walter,

    Actually this feature is not removed. Instead this is enhanced!
    In PowerDitrector 8, it only allows me to rotate 90/180/270 degrees, and the CyberLink guys put it into the “Power Tools” tab. In the current version, it allows me to do free-form rotation (of course it can snap to grids so that you can still do 90/180/270 degree rotation).

    The new UI design: Whenever you drag a video into the timeline, you see a rectangle. The border line with white points allows you to resize the video. The inner “+” in blue allows you to move the video. The the blue ring outside the “+” sign allows you to rotate.

    Try it! I enjoy it very much. :)

  • DirectorG says:

    Hey walter and Mike O’Field,
    I do not know what you say at first, but after I figure out what “rotate tool” really is – I love rotate control in PowerDirector 9! It is so easy and conviente tool compare to other editors, big thanks to CyberLink!

  • Paul says:

    Hello!
    I love the new PD9. =)
    Only question is, is there a way I can speed
    up it’s ‘start up loading time’? Because I always
    have to wait about 10-15 minutes each time I open it.

    I use a laptop with 512Ram.

    Thanks!

  • Nathan says:

    Hi all, I really had success with pd8 ultra and quickly acquired 9 for the 64bit application. Sadly, I am having problems importing flv files and producing only gives me an error telling me the necessary decoders are not installed (the same files worked fine with 8 ultra). Has anyone had this problem and what solutions do you have. I really want to give it a go but will re-install 8 if it comes down to having the ability to import flv again.

  • I need to update my comments of this outstanding product.
    The customer service team of Cyberlink were patient with me , and thanks to their patience, I was able to correct the techincal problems , which was the fault of my computer’s settings, not the fault of the Cyblerlink app at all.
    I use the latest edition of Power Directer and I am amazed at the results of my videos.
    This latest Power Director has enabled me to create a professional video .
    I have Linda’s Shop Talk on Ruby Lane video series.
    I have also created the Decorator’s Touch video series..and thanks to this outstanding editor, I am in the process of creating another video series that will feature vintage jewelry and fashion.
    I am not a computer expert.
    I am not a professional photographer.
    If I can create videos that look like professional using this fabulous tool , you can too…and you too, will be as proud of your videos , as I am of mine.
    Thank you Cyberlink , you are a solid 10 , the best
    Sincerely,
    Linda Caricofe
    RC Antiques on Ruby Lane
    RC Antiques Too on Ruby Plaza

  • gary says:

    Is it just me that is having a problem with this software. I have problems rendering, hangs at a transition or scene changes, usualy at around the 60% mark but ALWAYS at a trnasition or scene change. I have told cyber link customer service who asked for all the DXDIAG info which I supplied and its a weeks and Im still waiting for their response. I have a top end PC so it isnt the PC. I agree Power Director 9 is a lot lot better than Coral which was hopeless at editing HD, but it isnt the smooth flawless product I keep reading about. Is this some kind of global scam or what? If I get some solution from Cyberlink soon I will update this review but right now I am fed up with video editing software and all the complete lies about how great it is!!!

  • Michael Lewis says:

    I would like to use pd9 ultra but I have read that 6gb dd2 of memory is recommended. I have and i3 processor and 4gb dd3 could you tell me if this would be big enough for pd9 ultra to run as it should.

  • Chris Wiles says:

    Hi Michael,

    According to the specs, 6GB is only recommended if you have the 64-bit version of Windows and, frankly, if you want to edit HD video. If you’re serious about editing HD video, then you really need as much memory as you can throw at your PC. Opening and editing HD video can take a serious amount of system memory.

    Chris.

  • Karmil says:

    I like apps like this, but they install a bunch of thing which even cant be uninstalled.

    One more cute app is Proshow Producer, clean and neat installation, everything else can be be added/installed after. NICE!

  • Matt says:

    I purchased and installed PD9 Ultra on a 64 bit, quad core machine with 8GB Ram. The machine has a 1GB AMD card and a 2.4GHz processor with nearly 3TB of hard disk it can access, so should be more than capable of running any amount of HD production. However, the program is unstable at best. It crashes constantly when splicing clips or adding transitions (by crashing, I mean freezing and hanging) and it will only produce about 2mins of a 14min video at 720p resolution (let along 1080p) to be uploaded to YouTube. I have installed all of the latest updates, defragged the machine, reinstalled the latest video card and chipset drivers and closed all other non-essential programs whilst running it. All to no avail. It remains unstable. Some have said to turn off the virus programs, but this means I have to disable the internet connection – a slight problem if it is trying to produce a file to go to YouTube…

    Come on Cyberlink – surely you can do better than this?! The usability benefits are all but useless when the program continually fails to run. And who ever heard of a company that CHARGES additional fees just to get phone help for a faulty product THEY provided??

  • Cosmo says:

    I agree with Matt, I’ve been trying the trial on 2 powerhouse Pc’s that I own and I get nothing but freezing and crashing no matter what I try doing with the software…… it freezes the whole system and I must push the pwr button down for 4sec to get it to shutdown.

    both windows 7 pro, 64-bit, 8gb ram, 2gb nvida dedicated video cards., all updated drivers, windows updates, etc

    Then I tried Corel Video Studio, and it runs great on both machines!!

    I think it is a global con job by Cyberlink, even that TOP TEN chart is bull !!

    I think which ever software company pays TOP TEN the most $$, that is who gets #1 ranking.

  • Pat Eddy says:

    I have PD9. My problem is that after I move a video file from the Media room to the Timeline and then play the video it has flashes of white light in the video. This also shows in the DVD that I create. The flashes of white light are not in the file in the Media room but appear there after the file is put into the Timeline. Do you know what causes this and what I can do to get rid of the white flashes of light?

  • Recently purchased my first PD. I am a convert from Pinnacle after HD15 refuses to run on my Win7 64bit with 8Gb Ram (and I can’t seem able to get my money back or any response from Pinnacle).

    Absolutely delighted with PD9, installed like a dream, runs and performs speedily and is a very ‘user friendly’ prog.

    I have a Gigabyte Radeon HD5450 1Gb graphic card and good CPU cooling/case cooling. I wonder if some of the problems reported by users here could be CPU core temperature related as PD9 does appear to really work the CPU and graphics chip fast. It would be interesting to know what cpu core temps are registering on, for example, Cosmo’s pc’s.

  • Ron Taylor says:

    I need to know if this program will do some things.

    1. Can I zoom and crop out portions of a frame. Example, can I zoom in on one person’s face in a video? Some software allows this for still pictures, but not for video.

    2. All computer editing software uses time lines. I want to use the beats of the music. I know I can’t expect the software to do this. But can I use something like a mouse click to enter beat points on an unsused timeline. I’d play the music and click my mouse in time (like someone would tap their foot) along with the music to insert these markers into the software.

    3. Finally, can I split the final video screen into, say, four quadrants? The result I want is to have four different videos begin at various times in each of the four quadrants. Example, one begins on beat one in a measure in the top left corner; another begins on beat two in the top right corner; another on beat three in the bottom left; and one on beat four in the bottom right. All four would need to run simultaneously. Can this product do that?

  • Billy says:

    Hello all :) just to say, if you’re having trouble with starting up PowerDirector (very slow start up or it just stops working) you should definitely download the patch. Sorted it right out for me. This is the link to it : http://www.cyberlink.com/downloads/support/powerdirector/patches_en_US.html . It may sorts out other faults too :)

  • Bernie says:

    was able to produce a decent video of mixed media, including JPEG, MOV. MP4 and various audio without too much difficulty. However, when editing, the MP4 video clips displayed as a greenish ghost image only. In the Trim and Multidrim window it did display correctly in full color. From reading the info in the manual I got the impression the ghosting problem would go away when producing the MP2 video but it didn’t. The finished product has the greenish ghost images where it converted from MP4. My 30 day trial is finished. Before considering buying, does anyone know whether that problem persists in the PD9 Ultra version?

  • George says:

    the flashes of white light are very irritating…i solved this by removing all of the transitions between videos…what a pain…fortunatly, pd v.9 doesn’t seem to do this…i only have 4 gb of ram and have 64 bit as well.