Hands-on with ScreenFlow 4

Keith White
29 March, 2013
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For many years screen capture on the Mac lagged way behind the Other. In recent years, however, the situation has improved – particularly when Telestream’s ScreenFlow appeared on the market in 2008.

From a promising beginning ScreenFlow has evolved into a fully-featured screen capture and video editing suite with a large range of quality video output options and an impressive feature list. Many of my compadres on my favourite Final Cut Pro X forum make great use of it in conjunction with FCPX.

Version 4, which I’m looking at here, continues that trend with a slew of new features.

Firstly, a couple of really useful organisational features. Professionals who use ScreenFlow regularly to quickly create compelling visual tutorials based on what’s happening on their Mac screen can quickly end up with complex sequences in the timeline and a messy media library. To clean up Timeline clutter Version 4 introduces the concept of nested clips. I can merge a number of clips into a single clip to which I can apply video and audio filters and actions, which is a great way to get consistency.

A range of new media organisation tools makes it much easier and intuitive to manage my library. These include lasso selection, a resizeable library window, extended ‘arrange by ‘criteria and many others.

A new caption editor tool allows me to create caption tracks I can add to MPEG 4 movies for viewing on iOS devices. These tracks can be in multiple languages and also can be exported separately as standard .srt files. These MPEG 4 movies export very quickly and at high quality using the x264 codec. In fact the export options in ScreenFlow 4 are quite astounding. Apart from direct publishing to YouTube, Vimio and Flash I have options to export to a wide range of viewing platforms.

I remember using a technique called Chroma Key when I was teaching video production last century in the pre-digital era. Film somebody against a uniform background, always green in those days, and then use a keying device to replace the green with another image. Presto, I’m standing near the Eiffel Tower or on top of Ayers Rock. It took a bit of work but it was magic. In ScreenFlow I can do it with a single click.

ScreenFlow now gives me access to a wide range of core audio and video effects from my Mac. They are not automatically available, so I add them to my library from drop-down lists. Audio effects include EQ, compression, delay and reverb. Video affects allow me to fine-tune my colour, apply artistic blurring and distortion, and special colour effects.

When I modify media using other software, ScreenFlow keeps track of my original file and offers me the chance to replace it in my media library with the modified file.

Another nice feature is the recording timer. When recording starts I can never remember the short-cut to stop. Now I just set the time in minutes and seconds and let ScreenFlow call it quits.

As I’m using version OS X 10.7 ScreenFlow now runs as a fully 64-bit application and I notice the jump in performance. Output quality now includes Retina display up to full 2880 x 1800.

Pricing? Around $99 might seem a bit steep in the world of cheap apps, but this is no toy. The many useful new features all add up to make this latest version of ScreenFlow a serious professional tool for Mac screen capture and editing into great looking and compelling videos.


Watch the official ScreenFlow video below:

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