Hands on with ScreenFlow 5

Keith White
28 November, 2014
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Screenflow 5, mac, app, macworld australiaFor many years the Mac OS lagged behind Windows in screen capture technology. This all changed when ScreenFlow arrived on the scene in 2008. After a modest beginning the software has matured into a stable and very capable set of tools, especially with the release of version 5. A couple of recent instances from my own experiences highlight just how useful ScreenFlow can be.

Scenario 1. I am coming to the end of a four-year document digitisation project and the client doesn’t quite buy my explanation of the time it takes to turn badly-worn heritage documents into clean, searchable PDFs. I figure the easiest way to make my point will be to record the actual process, so I load up Photoshop with a rather dirty-looking image straight from the scanner.

I plug my headset in and then get ScreenFlow started. I first make sure it’s picking up the audio from the headset and not the built-in microphone and then direct it to record the happenings on my entire Mac screen, rather than via the iSight camera or an external video camera. 5-4-3-2-1 and we’re recording.

I now step through the various processes I use to clean up the image using a set of Photoshop Actions and finally some manual enhancements with the eraser, dodge and spot fixing tools. All the while I’m running my commentary through the headset. When I’m finished I stop recording, do any quick edits needed and export the file to a suitable format. These range from lossless ProRes through to iOS device- specific settings and high/low web presets. And the screen capture quality runs right up to Retina if I need it. Recording the actual steps as I run them gives my client a first-hand understanding of what’s involved. I rest my case!

Scenario 2. I use a couple of amp modelling apps on my iPad to give me a wide range of guitar sounds at my live gigs. I’m often asked how this all works but it’s very hard to explain if I’m not actually sitting there playing. But with ScreenFlow’s new ability to capture video and audio from an iOS device tethered to my Mac via iTunes this is no longer a problem. I load up the app on my iPad, plug the headset into my Mac, choose iPad from the video input menu in ScreenFlow and hit Record.

I then run through my demonstration on the iPad with comments via the headset as I go. When I’m finished I get the video with sound from my iPad plus an audio track with my comments. All very easy, but I had to upgrade to Yosemite and iOS 8 to make it all work.

 

But ScreenFlow is now much more than a mere screen capture tool. It is also a simple but powerful video editor with a full range of essential video and audio filters (including chromakey) and transitions. Audio captioning is supported with a caption editor and the ability to import SRT files. Some of the other new features include touch callouts which mimic finger gestures on an iOS device, rolling edits, improved media organisation, particularly with direct access to my iPhoto and iTunes libraries and the ability to customise my recording frame rate. The new iOS recording capability coupled with the touch callouts are an ideal way for app developers to showcase their products.

As the owner of a succession of Sony video cameras I am more than pleased that another of the new features is native support for AVCHD file formats. If I want to generate professional video quality I can now hook up my camera rather than using my Mac’s inbuilt iSight.

Over the years I have found that ScreenFlow upgrades have consistently brought significant improvements in performance, quality and functionality, as well as adding useful new features. Version 5 continues this tradition and is now an even better tool for educators to create high-quality presentations in a short timeframe for online or classroom instruction.

The improved editing features give me the ability to produce professional quality material right here on my Mac. Around AUD$115 from Telestream.

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