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(Credit: Stephan Müller)

If you're looking for a professional-grade video editing app but have reservations about paying a monthly fee for your creative software, CyberLink has a powerful and affordable video-editing app that just may work for you. It's PowerDirector.

What is PowerDirector?

This is a nifty video editing package aimed at giving content creators all the tools needed to produce captivating stories in the form of video. PowerDirector isn't iMovie or Windows Movie maker. You're given a few more robust tools and effects to help enhance your video footage, but I'll get into that a little more shortly.

At times, enthusiasts of individual video editing software remind me of the fanatics who argue about iOS versus Android. But we have so many video editing options available, and each of those editing apps comes with different capabilities, options, and price points, so the real question is, which is better for the task you're using it for. So as someone who uses video editing tools each day, I want to make sure I looked at PowerDirector with an open mind as I started to use it.

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When looking at PowerDirector, I found that the video editor could potentially be an everyday video editing package creatives could use for their video projects. You just have to learn the user interface to get yourself rolling along -- which is pretty much the case with any piece of software. Fortunately, PowerDirector does try to guide you through using the software with popup tips and suggestions.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Getting going is easy enough

Once you've created a project, you can begin adding your video or photo footage. When you're ready to arrange your footage into your timeline, do so by dragging your files down to any of the "video" tracks below. This is pretty standard functionality with video editing software, so that felt comfortable. You're even given some sample footage to play with to help get started. I couldn't figure out how to get rid of that footage for every project I opened, but I appreciate CyberLink trying to be helpful.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

My first thought was to see just how well the editing tool handled ultra-HD or 4K video footage. In most video editors, working with super resolution video files means your computer pays a performance price. Rendering these files for previewing while you're working is really taxing on your computer, no matter how beefy your hardware is. With PowerDirector, you're given an opportunity to use "shadow" files in place of your regular 4K footage. This is similar to the proxy file workflow Adobe uses in Premiere Pro for 4K footage.

My test used shadow files as well as the originals. There's definitely a performance difference, but even using the original files wasn't as painful as I would have expected. Either way, performance was also acceptable when scrubbing through the timeline or rendering out to final output.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Effects

With regards to sprucing up the video project before the final render, I couldn't help but giggle at some of the effects found in the the FX options. Color grading was pretty straight forward when it came to setting up proper exposure, contrast, and so forth. PowerDirector also offers the ability to use LUTs (Look Up Tables) to give a quick color grading filter to your footage with just a few clicks. I wasn't fond of the user experience when trying to adjust the sliders for exposure or other settings. You're dragging your mouse, which is easy, but sometimes you just want to reset to the original setting. I didn't see an easy way to reset other than completing an "undo" function.

Some of the transitions and effects in PowerDirector came off a bit cheesy for my taste. Sure, you have fades and dissolves as part of the transitions, but there are quite a bit of "dated" transitions and effects, such as a star wipe. Is this 1985? Maybe someone has a use for that stuff but not me. It of course has nice options. For example, there's the ability to track motion within a clip. This is great for drawing attention to certain spots in your scene or attaching movable text. Very nice option.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

How's it compare to Premiere Pro?

I've been pretty open about being an Adobe Premiere Pro fanboy, so I wanted to do a comparison between PowerDirector and Premiere Pro as part of my testing. Premiere Pro is more robust in functionality, but that's not a knock on PowerDirector. PowerDirector reminds me more of a more robust Premiere Elements. It's just a more "happy" and "bubbly" interface than that of Premiere Pro. I did notice that by default, PowerDirector tries to sharpen your footage upon import. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's something to be considered in your workflow.

Notice the difference in the two screen that follow. Here is a Premiere Pro preview.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Here is a PowerDirector preview. PowerDirector is definitely sharper to start. Particularly, the view of the dog's head.

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(Credit: Ant Pruitt)

Pros

  • Buy once and use. If you'd rather steer clear of monthly or annual subscription fees, PowerDirector is a solid choice.
  • Acceptable performance, even with super resolution video files. Performance was pretty good, for example, when scrubbing through the timeline or rendering out to final output.
  • Easy-to-use interface. The video editing app comes with helpful tips to get you going with the video tool's appealing interface.

Cons

  • Some transitions and effects feel a bit off. Some of the transitions and effects look a bit cheesy, and others feel dated.
  • No Apple versions. If you are looking for a cross-platform video-editing app, you will need to look elsewhere, as PowerDirector is available on Windows and Android but not MacOS and iOS.

Bottom line

PowerDirector is definitely a viable software option if you're looking to edit video. You get quite a bit of functionality to help make your videos look and sound professional. And the pricing is quite a value: You can order PowerDirector starting at $99 flat. And a package for $129 gives you a few more video templates and effects, though I think the $99 version is sufficient for most causes. CyberLink also offers a subscription model for $70 annually, where you're always offered the latest and greatest versions of the software.

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Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.