CyberLink Director Suite Review

by Reads (8,335)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 10
      • Performance
      • 10
      • Total Score:
      • 10.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Individual content creation apps are powerful
    • Reasonable price
    • You can move to another application from within current application
  • Cons

    • No central launch point for suite
    • Software help files, but no printed (or PDF) user guide

CyberLink Director Suite is a multimedia content creation package that does it all, whether you want to create your first YouTube video, make yourself look better in a Facebook photo, or produce a professional-looking video with a soundtrack to match. Relatively new on the scene, the product is well suited to users ranging from beginners to high-end movie makers. As we’ll detail in this review, this reasonably priced suite pulls together feature-rich software applications for photo, video, and audio editing.

Overview

Maybe you aren’t familiar yet with the CyberLink name. If your laptop came with DVD player software, though, chances are good that it’s a CyberLink product, regardless of what it’s actually called. For some time, much of the company’s business revolved around providing its software for laptop and desktop PC vendors to private label. That business model has changed in recent times, however, with CyberLink taking a more active branding of its products. Additionally, CyberLink has started to bundle its most popular products into suites.

The newest collection from CyberLink, Director Suite, contains five main components: PowerDirector, PhotoDirector, ColorDirector, AudioDirector, and Wave Editor.

CyberLink’s stated purpose in the release of the Director Suite is to let you easily take advantage of the huge outflow of user generated media by creating your own. This trend is reflected in the explosive growth of YouTube and other media sharing sites.

Each component of the suite is designed to be used in conjunction with the others to produce a professional appearing piece of video, though there is certainly nothing at all to stop you from using any of the components individually, such as using PhotoDirector simply to touch up a photograph.

You don’t need to be an expert to make good use of the capabilities that Director Suite affords you. It will help to have some knowledge of concepts such as timelines and audio tracks. Yet each application in the suite, taken individually, spans a range between basic and high-end professional. CyberLink describes the applications as prosumer, and I agree with that assessment. Most of the components of the suite are available as individual applications, too.

Still, at $239.99, it might be worth your while to purchase the suite even if you don’t use every component. The suite also adds extras like 22 NewBlue motion and paint effects, as well as three CyberLink Creative Design Packs which provide templates to give you a framework for building your own media.

Perfomance

Director Suite is available in both physical form (retail box) or as a download. We tested the downloadable version, but our copy was a press edition which needed to be downloaded from an FTP site instead of a direct download link, which is a more common method when you purchase downloadable software. Consequently, your experiences in installing the software might be slightly different from mine.

Installation consisted of downloading a number of .RAR files (a compressed archive format) as well as an .EXE file that was the expander and installer. I ran the installer uncompressed and installed all of the applications. An icon for each application was placed on the desktop. Unlike CyberLink Media Suite 10, which I reviewed for NotebookReview previously, CyberLink Director Suite contains no central launch application. (For expanded views of the screenshots at right, please click on the images.)

Each application needs to be launched either from the desktop icon or within another application. Since the main goal of the suite is to produce an integrated piece of media with video and audio, it makes sense to let a user bounce back and forth between other applications from directly in the application you are working with, rather than having to save a project in one application, open it in another, and so on.

You do have the option of working this way, should you want to do so. There will probably be times when you’ll want to work on a file, save it, work on a different file, and then open the first file in a different Director Suite application to perform additional editing.

PowerDirector

PowerDirector, the video editor, is the centerpiece of the suite, and it is where most users will start. The application can import video and audio clips existing in just about any format other than the .VOB format used on commercial DVDs. These files would have to be transcoded into MP4, MOV, or AVI format before being imported. Software from other vendors, such as WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, is available to convert movie formats into editable file formats, though doing so may violate copyright laws.

PowerDirector 11, the most recent edition, can also take advantage of increases in processing resulting from using a 64 bit version of the Windows operating system (if you have it), multi-core processors, as well as graphics acceleration using the GPU in the video card. If your video card supports it, you can take advantage of PowerDirector’s native multi-monitor support.

Numerous effects are included with PowerDirector, as is content aware editing, which analyzes major scenes containing objects like faces, motion and zoom, and poor lighting and shakiness, letting you correct these automatically using controls found on the left side of the screen. These controls are pretty intuitive. This is fortunate. While there is help contained in the application, there is no printed (or even PDF) manual. Additional help is available if you sign on to the DirectorZone, where online tutorials and advice exist.

When you first launch PowerDirector, you are asked whether you want the Full Feature Editor, the Easy Editor or the Slideshow Creator. You can set any one of these as the default, and launch any other when desired.

As its name indicates, the Easy Editor is the easiest to use. Unlike the Full Feature Editor, it doesn’t use timeline tracks at the bottom of the screen. You simply import your video. Then you move on to the “next” tab, which provides a large selection of different styles. Select one that you like, hit the “next” button at the bottom of the screen, and proceed to the adjustment screen where you can add music to the clip and set parameters for the Magic Movie Style, which tries to determine where editing cuts should be made.

I found this feature somewhat hit-or-miss. It’s a good way to start off, but most users will quickly transition to the Full Feature Editor with its more common track timeline at the bottom of the screen to provide more control over the editing process.

The Magic Movie Wizard will analyze the video and apply suggestions which you can then preview. This process is a bit time consuming, so if your clip is on the long side, you probably have time to make a cup of coffee while you’re waiting.

After the Magic Movie Wizard is finished, you can preview what the software thinks your video should look like, with titles and transitions, and then either produce the movie, creating a disc, or switch to Full Feature mode and continue editing on your own. This mode features multiple tracks, each of which can contain video, audio, titles, transitions, background, and/or effects. Multiple effects and motion effects are included. You can also add subtitles and break up your video into chapters. All of this can be done in 4K Ultra HD video format.

PhotoDirector

PhotoDirector is not tied to video production, but rather to still photography. As a photo editor, its capabilities are closer to Adobe Photoshop than to an entry-level editor like Picasa. That said, you certainly don’t need to use all of the drill-down settings in the individual adjustments menus within PhotoDirector.

Also, some of the adjustments and settings that you make in PhotoDirector can be exported to ColorDirector, and then incorporated into a video that you are working on.

Yet even as a stand-alone photo editor, PhotoDirector has a lot going for it. The advantages start with the ability to import your images. Many of today’s digital SLRs have the ability to shoot in RAW format. These images take up a lot more space than the JPEG format most users store images in, but they also contain a lot more data which can result in cleaner photographs and truer color. PhotoDirector can import the RAW images created by cameras from Nikon, Canon, and others with RAW capability. This is a feature usually found only in high-end image editing applications.

Face recognition technology isn’t exclusive to PhotoDirector. Other photo editing applications are able to identify faces in an image and retrieve other images which contain the same face. It’s a nice feature to have, though, when you want to work on a batch of photos with the same person included on each. In my testing, the face recognition feature in PhotoDirector didn’t always work. Yet it did work often enough to be a useful (and cool) feature.

The advanced editing controls are where PhotoDirector really shines. Content Aware Removal lets you draw an outline around objects that you don’t want in the photo, and the software automatically removes the object and fills in the area based on the colors surrounding the object. As with face recognition, it doesn’t always work flawlessly, but it’s way better than having to do pixel-level editing.

A similar feature lets you point out flaws in a picture of a person. It removes blemishes and wrinkles, whitens teeth, and the like. Use it with the included Body Shaper that lets you reshape specific parts of a portrait. Magazines have been doing these modifications for years, and now it’s pretty easy to create your own cover shots.

ColorDirector

The final component of the DirectorSuite is ColorDirector. This is a set of tools used in post-production (after your video is edited and before it’s finally distributed) to make some pretty dramatic adjustments. There are several built-in presets that you can use to give your video a different look, such as converting the video to black-and-white for that old-time movie effect. You can also correct under- and overexposure errors.

One of the features that I like best, though, is the color replacement capability. It’s not difficult to use. You can take a frame of video, for example, and change the color of a shirt a person is wearing. You don’t have to make this color replacement in every frame, ColorDirector will track the object (a shirt in this example) and make the replacement in every frame for you.

AudioDirector and Wave Editor

AudioDirector and Wave Editor are extensions to the PowerDirector. PowerDirector offers the ability to do some basic editing on the audio tracks, which is useful if you just want to drop in music and/or a voiceover. Yet if you want to really fine tune the audio portion of your media, the features that AudioDirector offers will help you to do just that.

AudioDirector uses a timeline-based waveform display, so you can precisely cut and edit a soundtrack. The application also includes noise reduction. Free sound clips are offered for download on the DIrectorZone.com site.

I think that many users will find AudioDirector somewhat more difficult to use than the PowerDirector application. Many of us have some basic experience with video editing, possibly with Windows Movie Maker or a low-end editor such as Muvee Reveal Express. With video editing, you can see what the effect of an action does.

Lots of people can adapt pretty quickly to cutting audio, but it requires a bit of experimentation and experience to become comfortable with making changes to the audio track — such as fades, dynamic volume leveling, and similar functions. That’s true with AudioDirector, or even with an open source audio editor such as Audacity. Wave Editor provides even more granularity in manipulating wave files, but until you become familiar with doing audio editing, it’s likely you won’t get much use from this editing enhancement.

Conclusion

CyberLink has gone to a lot of trouble to make Director Suite usable by people with varying levels of skills. Unfortunately, this really isn’t all that obvious until you actually install and launch the software, so it’s very likely that some users who aren’t experienced in using these kinds of editors will give PowerDirector a pass.

That’s too bad, because the PowerDirector is a great way to ramp up video and audio production skills. It can be used at a very basic level, with features like the Easy Editor. Then, when you gain more familiarity with the process, you can move up to the more sophisticated and granular features within the suite.

You get a lot for your $239.99, regardless of how experienced you are in these types of applications. Moreover, a free trial version of CyberLink Director Suite is downloadable from CyberLink‘s Web site.

Pros:

  • Indiviidual content creation apps are powerful
  • Reasonable price
  • You can move to another application from within current application

Cons:

  • No central launch point for suite
  • Software help files, but no printed (or PDF) user guide


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