A solid foundation, but the new features are disappointing and the competition is racing ahead
CyberLink PowerDirector 11 Ultimate is tricky to pin down. On the one hand, its inviting interface and various handholding features suggests that it’s aimed squarely at beginners.
However, with 100 tracks, sophisticated keyframe automation and superb preview performance, there’s lots to appeal to advanced users, too. This might seem like the best of both worlds, but a few issues have stopped us from giving it an unreserved recommendation in the past. Cyberlink has sought to address many of these issues in version 11, with improved colour correction, ripple editing options and a revamped picture-in-picture (PiP) editor for moving videos and images around the screen.
The old colour correction controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, White Balance and Hue and now joined by Exposure, Vibrancy, Highlight Healing and Shadow. The latter two are particularly useful for revealing details in the brightest and darkest parts of the image. However, they behaved strangely in our tests. With the preview set to 720p or 1080p resolutions, adjusting them made the preview enter a weird series of glitches, fits and bursts. We also found that boosting the Shadow control caused clips to flicker in brightness – not just in the preview but in exports too.
The improved colour correction should be great, once Cyberlink irons out the erratic flickering and stuttering previews
The new ripple editing functions were no better. Various options appear when clips are moved or truncated on the timeline, but selecting from these verbose descriptions felt clumsy – a global switch would be much better. The implementation was buggy, too, with options appearing when we adjusted the right edge of a clip or moved it to the right, but not for adjustments to the left. Bizarrely, moving a clip to the right created a gap on both sides of the clip being moved. Another bug caused clips on overlay tracks to be sent careering down the timeline.
The new PiP Designer makes it much easier to create fluid animations
The new PiP Designer module is more of a success. Its controls for opacity, scale, rotation, motion, skew and 3D depth each have dedicated keyframe lanes, so it’s now possible to animate each element without getting clogged up in a tangle of keyframes. As before, it’s also possible to create curved paths between Motion keyframes – not quite with the precision offered by Premiere Elements, but PowerDirector comes a close second for manipulating animated graphics.