Shooting video of your family and friends, of holiday and important moments is all very well, but unless you actually do something with those clips and photos, they are destined to stay inside your camera, or perhaps viewed once and forgotten.
Cyberlink Media Suite 8 provides all the tools you need to turn these fragments into a compelling story and share them either on disk or online. Although actually a collection of independent applications, Media Suite’s programs all conform to a strict and appealing visual design, making it easy to find your way around, within and between applications. The suite is available in three versions: Centra, Pro and Ultra. The difference between the three is in which of the supplied applications support Blu-ray (see here for more information).
The main launch interface has had a gentle revamp since the previous edition; gone are the gaudy pictures, replaced by abstract light splodges and content-relevant icons. Tasks are themed, which makes it easy to find the right tool for the job, whether it’s creating a DVD or ripping a CD. You can either use this interface to complete individual tasks or launch one of the full applications which are also available separately in the Windows Start menu.
Photo management is provided by MediaShow 5, a £30 product in its own right. It does an excellent job of managing your photos and vidoes, and provides for basic photo editing and enhancement. Face recognition and automated tagging is cleverly implemented, but not always perfect.
While it found all the faces in our test photos it didn’t always correctly identify the person, so some manual editing was required. These tagged photos can then be uploaded directly to Facebook. MediaShow is also the main base for slideshow creation and video conversion, and supports hardware acceleration from Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia and ATI graphics processors equipped with CUDA and Stream respectively. You can seamlessly upload videos and photos directly to media sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube, as well as Facebook.
Media Suite 8 includes PowerDirector 8 (Blu-ray support in Ultra and Pro editions only) to enable you stitch together your captured videos into more professional productions. Drag and drop video clips and audio tracks into sequence and add transitions, effects and captions to create a movie.
If the bonanza of included effects and transitions are not sufficient to sate your creativity, you can find more at the online Cyberlink DirectorZone. Once you are satisfied, process your finished piece into a final disk using PowerProducer. A handful of Blu-ray and DVD menu templates are included, but you might want to download more from the CyberLink Director Zone. We found plenty of DVD templates, but no Blu-ray menus at time of press.
DVD and Blu-ray playback is handled by the excellent PowerDVD 9 (Blu-ray playback in Ultra only). The full Blu-ray version costs £60 alone, which is a good chunk of the Ultra edition’s £100 price. With its excellent post processing and upscaling of DVDs, this is a real must for movie buffs.
WaveEditor is a new addition to the suite and allow you to record, import and edit sound files files. It allows you to clean up and crop files to fit your needs. This is useful if you would like to include commentary on a slideshow or video. Although the included PowerBackup is not as sophisticated as dedicated backup applications, it provides a modicum of protection for your files and system settings through incremental and differential backups.