How to add fireworks (and other special effects) to your videos

A friend of mine recently turned 50 — the, um, new 30. She celebrated the occasion by jumping out of a perfectly functional airplane. Good thing the event was caught on video, because (a) few of her friends would believe that under that mild-mannered exterior lurked a skydiving daredevil, and (b) the opening of her parachute cried out for something extra. Well, nothing says “Ta-da!” quite like fireworks. And I knew just how to make it happen: with CyberLink PowerDirector 9’s particle effects.

You might recall from my earlier post that particle effects let you punch up your videos with simulated sparks, snow, lightning, and other wild effects. To get started, I imported the skydiving video into PowerDirector. The video followed the action from start to landing in one continuous shot, so it needed no editing. It just needed fireworks!

I loaded the video onto PowerDirector’s timeline (where you arrange video clips in sequential order), and opened the Particle Room. The pre-built effect that comes with PowerDirector looks like a comet streaking across the screen, leaving stars in its wake. The stars look a lot like fireworks, so rather than try to find a ready-made fireworks display on DirectorZone.com (the CyberLink community web site where users share effects, titles, and transitions), I chose to modify the streaking comet particle effect.

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How to create special effects in your home movies

Ever wonder how computer animators and special effects artists create sparks, snow, and smoke effects that look and behave just like the real deal? You know, sparks that fly out of things and sputter off as they fall to the ground. Smoke that wafts upwards, free of gravity’s pull. Falling snow that blows across the ground as it’s pushed by a gust of wind. All can be simulated in movies by particle effects software.

I’ll spare you the techie details on how particle systems work their magic, but you’ll be jazzed to know that CyberLink PowerDirector 9 lets you add animated sparks, bubbles, snow, and even lightning to your videos. Don’t get me wrong — PowerDirector’s particle effects won’t turn your videos into special effects extravaganzas. However, they can definitely add some glam to your opening titles and punch up your family footage. After all, what proud parent can resist adding a fireworks display to a video of their kid scoring a goal?

Camping up your pet videos is a cinch with particle effects.

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Watch or listen to anything using CyberLink PowerDVD

I don't know about you, but I'm a serious media junkie. I mean, I've got a huge DVD and Blu-ray disc collection, more CDs than I can count, and a lifetime of family photos and videos stored on hard drives and thumb drives (as well as a bunch on my iPhone). When I'm not working, I'm usually watching a movie, surfing Facebook, or both.

So when I discovered CyberLink PowerDVD 11 Ultra, I was super jazzed. Let's take a quick look at what it can do.

PowerDVD is a universal media player. It lets you enjoy all your home entertainment activities in one place by accessing them from a single application. From within PowerDVD, you can play virtually any movie, music, or video file, and view photos online and stored on your PC and gadgets like an iPhone or iPad. PowerDVD even lets you enhance the quality of YouTube videos, clean up noisy soundtracks, and stabilize shaky videos. Think of it as a home entertainment hub that also fixes imperfections.

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How to add cool menus to your home-cooked DVD

What’s one thing restaurants, Web sites, and DVD movies all have in common? Give up? Menus! Without menus, we wouldn’t be able to, well, get to all the good stuff! For the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about how to create your very own movie DVD using Cyberlink PowerProducer. Today I’m going to walk you through creating a menu. You’ll need one so users can see what’s on your disc, jump to specific scenes in your video, and even watch bonus materials – just like a Hollywood DVD!

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Grandma not online? No sweat. Share photos on DVD with PowerProducer

Putting your home videos on a DVD or Blu-ray disc is a great way to share them with people who haven’t jumped on the social networking bandwagon yet — people like my parents. My folks aren’t on Facebook and they don’t own a smartphone. However, they do have HDTVs and DVD players all over the house. To them, a DVD with photos and videos of their grandkids is heaven on a platter. So I decided to use CyberLink PowerProducer 5.5’s easy-to-use authoring tools to create a DVD of my eldest daughter’s wedding.

The centerpiece of my project was a professionally shot video stored on a DVD. My plan was to copy this video and combine it with a bunch of still photos from my hard drive.

Luckily for me, PowerProducer accepts a plethora of video formats, including VOB (Video OBject) files, the format used by DVDs. Using Windows Explorer, I simply located the file on the DVD, selected it, and imported it. As you can imagine, it was a big file, so even my superfast laptop took a couple minutes to copy it from the disc onto my hard drive.

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Cyberlink PowerProducer satisfies the burning desire to make a blockbuster movie

Ever admired the look of a DVD and Blu-ray movie? I mean, those things are fancy! They open with music and background videos, have elaborate menus, and let you jump straight to specific scenes and bonus features.

Believe it or not, you, too, can make a movie disc that looks like it came straight out of Hollywood. You can burn your own videos, music, and still photos to a DVD or Blu-ray disc and add many of the same professional flourishes you see on commercial discs. Let's take a look at how to do it using PowerProducer 5.5, CyberLink's affordable and easy-to-use DVD and Blu-ray Disc authoring software.

To become a movie-disc-making mogul, you need a PC that can burn discs. (To create Blu-ray Discs, that PC will need a Blu-ray burner. For video CDs and DVDs, a standard DVD burner is fine.) If your PC is outfitted with a second-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, that's even better. Both of processors include Intel Quick Sync Video (Intel QSV) and Hyper-Threading technologies to speed up PowerProducer's disc authoring process. PowerProducer 5.5 is optimized to take advantage of these technologies, saving hours of production time without sacrificing an iota of image quality.

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