Anyone shooting with a state-of-the-art 360-degree video camera should be excited about the latest version of CyberLink’s PowerDirector video editing suite. PowerDirector 16 trains laser focus on 360-degree image editing of this burgeoning genre of consumer cameras and offers a variety of sophisticated post-processing tools.
Last year’s PowerDirector was one of the few consumer video packages that offered 360-degree editing, allowing you to import equirectangular files and process that footage for use in standard video projects. This new version builds on that foundation to include object stabilization, movement, and tracking and titling, as well as a host of other VR-centric capabilities for posting to Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo, or producing videos for viewing on reality headsets. virtual.
All of that sounds complex, and it is. But one of PowerDirector’s most ingenious tricks for its audience of consumers and “prosumers” is that it keeps the complexity under the hood, allowing you to dive right into any aspect of the show.
CyberLink PowerDirector 16 offers three standalone versions and two suites: the Deluxe version ($ 69.99) includes basic features, while the Ultra version ($ 99.99), reviewed here, includes 25 GB of space on CyberLink Cloud for a anus. The Ultimate version ($ 129.99) includes several NewBlue and proDAD video effect packages and specialized templates. PowerDirector 16 Ultimate Suite ($ 249.99) adds ColorDirector and AudioDirector add-on apps, additional premium content, and 50GB of space on CyberLink Cloud for one year; Director Suite tops that with PhotoDirector 9, its photo editing software, for $ 299.99.
We tested the latest 360 degree editing tools and many other new features.
360 video stabilization
Video stabilization has long been essential for movie making, even standard 2D output, because most non-professional portable images are shaky. But when it comes to stereoscopic video footage for VR headsets, the problem is amplified by movement: people ride bikes, run, dance, kite surf, and generally ride horses. Nothing induces a migraine faster than shaky VR images directly against your eyes. To that end, version 16 introduces a new algorithm that points and corrects for translation and rotation camera shake, providing even more comprehensive 360-degree editing capabilities.
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In the program’s Repair / Upgrade menu, there are a variety of settings, including the slider-based stabilizer tool, offering up to 120 levels of force. You don’t need a pilot’s license, just a pair of alert eyes as you move the slider back and forth to fix your shaky footage. You can even split the preview directly across the window to compare before and after motion, allowing many adjustments for the best results.
When you’re working with 360-degree video, many things ask for adjustments, including your video titles. The new PowerDirector Title Room includes special titles for these videos, a feature designed to maintain their shape and position without warping or distorting them while the movie plays.
The basic controls give you a large selection of fonts and you can adjust the font size, color, kerning, shadows, and text spacing. The more granular controls include start and end effects that allow you to set specific type In and Out points, and other effects.
Object and motion tracking
PowerDirector offers two new types of tracking for 360-degree video: one for native 360-degree footage and the other for 360-degree video intended to be included in a standard movie.
The Motion Tracking tool allows you to choose and follow an object or person in a 360-degree video, and then add text and / or a PiP object or sticker to track their movement through the clip. With a busy clip, motion tracking helps you highlight what you want the viewer to focus on.
While the motion tracker worked as advertised, tracking faces or objects accurately, it was awkward to learn and took a few tries to master. This was especially true when text and media clips were attached to the tracked object, as the bounding boxes for each overlay until you can position them correctly.
In preview, positioning is an approximation, and previews sometimes looked strange when three objects were moving through the video. While this depends on the video you are using and the object you are tracking, it was sometimes difficult to visualize the final product until I saw it on the timeline.
PowerDirector’s View Designer now supports the fantastic and popular Little Planet projection mode, which makes your video subjects appear to be standing on a very small globe. You can adjust the X, Y and Z rotation to change the viewing angle of the video and set keyframes with a Fly In / Out function that customizes the animated effect. Ease In / Out option calms choppy videos. As with the Image Stabilizer, you can achieve this effect completely with sliders that allow you to preview the effect in real time.
Sometimes it’s all about finding innovative ways to share photos and videos through social media. PowerDirector, like Adobe Premiere Elements, now offers an easy-to-use video collage feature, allowing you to create a single animated package with up to seven adjustable still image and video modules. You can access the Video Collage plugin through a drop-down menu at the top of the window; Here, you can find about two dozen templates to choose from.
Video Collage templates contain both photos and videos that can be played at the same time. The designer lets you obsess over the little details. Adjust the play time, sequence and time between plays; freeze the video; or display a colored board or loop. You can zoom or crop each video separately and set a graceful frame animation.
The PowerDirector 16 Color Match feature allows you to align the lighting conditions of different clips by copying the color gamut from one clip to another.
This feature couldn’t be easier. Just pick a clip that needs enhancing and combine it with a reference clip whose lighting you prefer. Click the Color Match button and you’re done. An adjustment of the slider modifies the results.
Another new color feature lets you use Color Lookup Tables (LUTs) to assign a specific color range to a set of clips. This process was somewhat more complex. To apply a LUT, you must first find and download a lookup table. After selecting the first clip on your timeline, use the Fix / Enhance control to choose and apply the lookup table, and then apply it to the rest of the clips. While PowerDirector accepts a wide range of LUT formats, I found that some were incompatible with the program.
To round out the new standard and 360-degree video color utilities, the app also includes controls for white balance, HDR, and split tone, including options like hue variations, saturation, and light and shadow balance. All of these color controls work with sliders that allow you to see a preview in real time, thus adding some sophisticated features to the program that do not require any technical skills to use.
A new Audio Ducking feature displays spoken words more clearly by reducing the volume of background music or other sound while automatically optimizing the mix for videos with dialogue or narration. The tool uses sliders to determine the sensitivity, the level of crouch you prefer, and the duration of the fade in and out. The algorithm does the rest.
I tested PowerDirector on an HP Specter x360 laptop running Windows 10 Home. Its 64-bit Intel Core i5-5200U processor runs at 2.2 GHz on an HD Graphics 5500 system with 8 GB of RAM. I combined five clips into a 2.5 minute video at 60 frames per second and rendered the projects in MPEG 4 at 720p. I calculated the rendering at both 60fps and 30fps.
CyberLink always performs fast, and internal enhancements in this version allowed my video to run through 60fps encoding in 1:23, compared to 3:07 using the same video in the previous version of CyberLink. At 30fps, the speed daemon renderer clocked 1:02, down from 1:58 for the previous version.
This speed reflects the application’s responsiveness to commands throughout the interface and its overall smooth and stable operation. However, one flaw I found in my testing was that a Windows 10 update affected critical audio functions, and I ended up having to reinstall the program to get the audio working again. Also, some CLUTs did not work.
CyberLink PowerDirector 16, which could well be called PowerDirector 360 Edition, brings 360-degree video recording and editing into the mainstream. Motion and Object Tracking functions offer immense control over media that can otherwise be difficult for filmmakers and viewers alike.
The new color features elevate the app to a prosumer category for filmmakers looking to create more artistic works. But the app doesn’t sacrifice its appeal to familiar shooters as it showcases the new Collage Designer and easy-to-use Little Planet feature. The performance is also top-notch. Even if you’re not getting into the 360-degree arena any time soon, the PowerDirector 16’s video collage and advanced color matching features make it well worth the investment.
Credit: Jackie Dove / Tom’s Guide