CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Ultra review

Price when reviewed

Consumer video-editing software must cater for a range of abilities, and CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Ultra leaves no stone unturned in its quest to provide something for everyone. At its simplest, the editing process involves importing footage, picking a themed template and exporting a finished video. At the other end of the scale, there are plenty of advanced features, including multiple-lane keyframe automation; sophisticated colour correction; curve-based object motion; slow motion with interpolated frames; and support for resolutions up to 4K.

The middle ground is covered, too, with particle effects, animated drawing tools and plenty of disc-authoring templates. These features may not live up to the highest expectations, but they do provide plenty of fodder for creative home users. Meanwhile, everyone benefits from the superb preview performance, with smooth playback of multiple 1080p streams on moderate hardware.

Version 12 follows the same formula, with new features for all types of users. The Theme Designer draws on those instant-results templates, but lets users mix and match them and gives more control over which photos and videos are used where. We struggle to muster much enthusiasm for these kinds of editing modes, which tend to churn out clunky edits.

CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Ultra

The Theme Designer did nothing to convince us otherwise. The interface was clumsy and we found it hard to keep track of which media had been used. The templates are nicely produced, but we’d prefer to see more of our footage rather than lengthy transition animations. Some templates were buggy, too, transitioning to one clip but then jumping unexpectedly to another.

Content-aware editing was introduced in version 11 to guide users towards the best bits of clips, based on analysis of motion, faces, shaky camerawork and poor lighting. Now it can also detect sections that include speech. It’s a simple idea that proved useful in cutting down the time it took to trawl through raw footage.

There are four new effects. Tilt-shift blurs the picture except for a band or ellipse of sharp focus. There’s precise control over the shape of the sharp and blurred areas, and it’s easy to animate them via the comprehensive keyframe tools. The other three new effects – Lens Flare, Water Reflection and Magnifier – are welcome, too, and help bring the creative effects up to the same standard as PowerDirector’s accomplished colour correction.

CyberLink PowerDirector 12 Ultra

PowerDirector already excelled in its ability to animate text, graphics and video clips around the frame, with curved motion paths and multiple keyframe lanes that give precise control over animations. It’s further enhanced by a Motion Blur tool, which blurs animated elements according to the direction and speed of their motion.

It’s carefully implemented, blurring not only for motion but also rotation, scale and skew animations. It helped make animations appear smoother and more natural, and is something that Adobe Premiere Elements 12 currently lacks. Premiere Elements still comes top for animation, with its Bézier curves for both path and acceleration between pairs of keyframes; however, PowerDirector is catching up.


Software subcategoryVideo editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?no
Other operating system supportWindows 8

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