Saturday, February 28, 2015

First round of tests … PowerDirector 13 and AudioDirector 3 versus Premiere Pro CC and Audition CC versus Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite 13

Folks, I’ll give you the short answer right now … Adobe kicked Cyberlink up and down the field all day long … it was not even a contest in the end.

I had high hopes for Adobe CC, as I really like the suite of apps in general. Very powerful, a near infinite growth curve with plugins, very fast work flow and only moderately slow rendering. Certainly way faster than the Sony Movie Studio speeds. And CC supports multicam quite well.

Enter Cyberlink … their suite of apps is a pretty close match for Premiere CC et al. A separate audio app and a separate grading app that communicates back to the video editor make for a theoretically excellent work flow. It took me forever to figure it out of course … the videos are as much marketing as they are instructional and nothing of depth is covered well. There are far fewer users out there posting info, and mot of it is for older versions. Basically, this is like working with Gimp …. good luck.

But … I eventually got it to work and built up a decent looking file. One strength they have is multicam alignment by audio … it aligned perfectly, which is slightly better than Premiere pro was able to accomplish. That one needed a nudge on one channel. And … PowerDirector can handle an array of clips that line up all over the place. It takes a while but it got them all right. Premiere Pro gives up on the same set of clips, so this would be the major strength of Cyberlink’s suite.

On the other hand, were I a pro, I would just get Plural Eyes and stop screwing around with toys Smile

So work flow goes to Cyberlink for multicam alignment and Adobe for everything else. Adobe’s integration is far more discoverable. Everything works in the obvious way, unlike Cyberlink’s suite, which requires many wasted hours before you start all over having won some real knowledge the hard way.

And then there is rendering speed. Sony really annoyed me by taking 10 hours to render a 1:26 minute video at 1080p. That’s about 7x real time and I find it unacceptable.

Plus, Sony’s multicam workflow is really weak. As in, there isn’t one. Every cut is done manually and so is alignment of all tracks. I can do it, but why should I have to?

My first few renders with Premiere Pro were amazing. 2x real time. I’m not sure what I did after that because it jumped to 4x real time. That annoyed me, despite still being a lot faster than Sony (who always finishes last in every test of rendering speed.)

So once I realized how powerful and cheap the Power Director Suite is, I installed the trial and worked on a song of Nick’s (Time and I.) After the already document learning curve, I finally had a really nice 3:47 video that should have rendered in about 7 minutes, according to their constant advertising of their outrageously fast renderer.

And yet … a 3:47 clip took just over 1:36 minutes. That’s 28x rendering speed. Um … WTF?

Looking at the rather sparse info on Google, I know that the previous version had a serious rendering speed issue with NVidia cards. I use a pair of GTX570 cards that should be blazing fast. Yet rendering is a dog, and so is the preview. At first it worked well … but it degenerated over the two days I’ve used it to where I could not render anything in real time, even at the lowest settings.

So … 8 cores and two fairly high end CUDA cards and even Sony slaughters it.

I’m sure that there is a bug in there somewhere. And I don’t care.

But wait … it’s not done getting slaughtered. What about the quality of the rendered video? Well …

With Premiere Pro, the inbuilt grading is so good that I did not need to go to the external grading app. But the inbuilt support in PowerDirector falls way short of the mark. I just could not get a good look in the GM1 clips, as there was shadow that it could not handle. So I went through incredible pain trying to figure out the interface between Power and Audio Directors and finally got it when I watched their videos. They should put it up in a dialog on install – save yourself tons of time because our user interface is horrid … WATCH ALL THE VIDEOS YOU CAN FIND.

Meanwhile, after waiting an eternity for the render, the final result was just plain awful. The shadows were pure mush and there are terrible motion artifacts in the 24p output. Everything is jerky in the final video, while both Movie Studio and Premiere Pro render silky smooth video. As you expect!

The verdict

This is not actually a contest. There is a reason why Adobe can charge what they charge. It all just works. PowerDirector Suite was the front runner by a mile. Before the horse broke a leg, was stomped by stampeding elephants, and then blasted into ash by friendly fire.

I.e. it self destructed …

So … stay with Sony and buy Pro Edit? Or spend a lot more money on the Adobe Suite? I don’t really need CS CC since I own LR5 and CS5 outright, along with OnOne Perfect Suite and Nik Suite. I don’t really need Premiere Pro CC since I already own Movie Studio Platinum Suite. And I don’t really need DreamWeaver since I can just use Weebly, which is far easier to work with and creates beautiful web sites.

Hmmm … I may just have talked myself out of upgrading. So it’s back to the salt mines with Movie Studio I suppose …. sigh.

UPDATE – HOld the phone!


A 3.5 minute clip rendered in Sony Movie Studio in 1 hour and 1 minute.

That is 28x, to match PowerDirector …. so it looks like I need to diagnose what is going on with my computer before laying blame.

It probably won’t change the final choice though, because I found it really easy to master the latest song with Sony and frankly, Sony’s UI and clip adjustment interface take Cyberlink’s out behind the barn with a baseball bat. ;-)

So I might as well ride it out and see where Adobe goes with the next few increments of CC. They aren’t going anywhere after all :-)