CyberLink Director Suite: Prosumer video, photo, and audio editing with great features and effects
At a Glance
CyberLink's $300 Director Suite is a collection of four of the company's best editing programs—three in new versions and one new introduction—combined to form a highly competent video and photo production package. The fab four: AudioDirector 3 Ultra, for fine editing and processing of audio tracks; ColorDirector Ultra, a new application for video color correction and effects; PhotoDirector 4 Ultra, for photo manipulation; and PowerDirector 11 Ultra, for video editing and composition.
While a set of separate applications, Director Suite is tunneled so that you can send content directly back and forth. For instance, you can pass a video from PowerDirector to ColorDirector to give it a new feel, pass the audio track from the video to AudioDirector 3 for noise reduction, then pass it all back to PowerDirector 11 for final composition. Blu-ray, hi-resolution video, and 3D are supported throughout the suite.
The central component, PowerDirector 11, is a mature, storyboarding multi-track video editor that compares well with competition such as Encore and Final Cut. New features in version 11 include content-aware editing that allows you to apply effects to objects you masque, even while they move. You can now insert video into the timeline with subsequent video sliding back to create room. Formerly, you had to move existing clips manually to make room.
CyberLink has expanded PowerDirector's support for video cameras, added 4K/2K (4096 x 3072/2048 by 1080) video support, and now imports and exports the open-source Matroska (.MKV) container format. Alas, the subtitles in my text .MKV rip did not import correctly.
PhotoDirector 4 retains previous versions' paneled interface with split-screen comparison, which makes editing and applying FX to photos a breeze. The most impressive new features in PhotoDirector 4 are smart selection and content-aware removal. The first is reminiscent of Photoshop's Magic Wand, but easier. The content-aware removal is a stunner. Select the cow in the foreground blocking the shot, remove it, and it's as if it were never in the shot. It's pretty darn amazing, though it works best with objects in front of contiguous backgrounds (just sand, as opposed to both sand and ocean).
Photo-vanity features abound in PhotoDirector 4, including a body shaper, eye enhancer, and teeth whitener, wrinkle remover. Never before has it been so easy to mislead your adoring public. The program tags faces, uploads to social media sites, and is a good multi-purpose organizer. All four editors are available as standalones for the PC; however, PhotoDirector 4 is also available as a Mac standalone--one of CyberLink's few. It fared as well as the PC version in Connecticut-based artist Susie Klein's hands-on, and in my own.
ColorDirector is a brand new program that handles color correction and color effects for video. Its raison d'être is to give your video a look-and-feel such as Silent Era (less distinct black and white), 80s Fab, 70s Flick, etc. However, it also lets you to correct or enhance saturation, white balance, etc. as well as replace colors. I found no video stabilization like that included in PowerDirector 11. This isn't a problem within the suite because PowerDirector can take care of it, but if you're buying the $130 standalone, you should be aware of this feature's absence.
The ColorDirector interface is much like PhotoDirector 4's, with an easy-to-use pane of options on the left side of the main window. Unfortunately, neither program allows you to collapse the options pane to gain more screen real estate. ColorDirector also has the same advanced automatic masque selection so you can color manipulate only sections of video, and it smartly tracks objects in motion.
AudioDirector 3 is a plain, but better-than-average wave editor that handles multiple files and up to 7.1 audio. It has surprisingly good noise reduction and can utilize VST effects--the industry standard for processing plug-ins. The program handles most common files types including MP3, lossless WMA, compressed WMA, wave files up to 32-bits/192Khz and Ogg. It doesn't understand FLAC or Apple lossless, but that's hardly an issue within the suite, as video tracks never utilize those formats. I found the program facile for the most part, though the cursor that tracks the current playback location moved rather jerkily.
The only caveat with Director Suite is a somewhat steep interface learning-curve due to a heavy reliance on small icons. It also requires hefty hardware--6GB memory, 60GB of disk space--if you want smooth performance with HD video. Then again, Director Suite is positively lightweight and easy compared to most pro-level products. It's also very fast compared to the majority of the competition with full hardware-acceleration support and tight coding.
When all's said and done, Director Suite's editors are all amongst the most capable in the consumer market. Taking into account the 22 New Blue effects, 3 packs of templates, and access to the bustling DirectorZone community that CyberLink provides, it's a formidable and affordable creative package for video and photo mavens.