I use a variety of apps that record what I’m doing on my screen. I use these apps to produce my Creative Suite Podcast, online training, tutorials and training DVDs. Although I recently became enamored with ScreenFlow, I found myself drifting back to my old favorite iShowU. When I want to do something longer and have the ability to edit it, there’s no question that ScreenFlow is the best choice. However, when I want to do something quick/down and dirty my favorite app is iShowU!
So needless to say when I saw that there was a new version of iShowU I was very excited to check it out. This NEW version of iShowU, dubbed as iShowU HD Pro offers some of my favorite features of ScreenFlow. The biggest feature of interest to me is the ability to have webcam video floating over the screen as needed. Sometimes I need a minute to explain something in more detail. I’m just talking and not really showing anything during that time. So it’s nice to be able to pop up a window of my "talking head" video and then when I’m done I can hit a key to make it go away.
Another feature that I like is the ability to show keystrokes automatically on screen. So for example, If I’m recording a tutorial on how to do something in Adobe Photoshop, I may say, "hit Command-J to duplicate the layer." As I hit that key sequence it’s displayed on screen. One cool thing that it also does is it shows an animation of each time you click so that the viewer can easily see where your mouse pointer is and where you clicked it.
Actually there are now 3 versions of this app
So far I’ve only been talking about iShowU and iShowU HD Pro. There are actually 3 version. There’s the original iShowU "classic" that we all know and love. Then there is iShowU HD and iShowU HD Pro. To see the differences between these versions, check out this handy Comparison Chart. The Pro version offered a couple of features that I wanted that the HD version didn’t offer, so I popped for the Pro version. Those features were the ability to Embed Watermarks and as I mentioned earlier, the ability to Record Keystrokes. The ability to Embed Watermarks helps me by allowing me to have my logo superimposed over the video during recording. This eliminates the need to do it in post production.
How well does it work?
I recorded my latest Creative Suite Podcast episode using iShowU HD Pro. While the app worked as advertised and I’m pleased with the end result, there are a couple of interface quirks and oddities. When I first launched iShowU HD Pro, I noticed that there is a fairly large LIVE Preview window. I still haven’t figured out what benefit it provides. You don’t see the window while you’re actually recording and I just can’t see why it’s there. Nor does there seem to be a way to turn it off. Another thing that threw me for a loop on the first day was that they include a sample Watermark. Of course they tell you this in the manual, but I usually only resort to the manual as a last resort. This was one of those times. I just couldn’t figure out that first, it was a watermark and then once I realized what it was, it took a quick peek in the manual to figure out how to turn it off/delete it.
Although I was really pleased to see the addition of recording keystrokes, the current implementation is flawed! It shows ALL keystrokes. Even the ones that you use to control iShowU HD Pro. For example, to show and hid your webcam window, you hit Command-Shift-C. Well, I don’ want that recorded as a part of my recording. Yet, it does show and record every keystroke. I finally just stopped fighting it and turned that feature off.
Lastly, I wanted to set my recording window to a specific size of 1280×720. My display preferences were set to 1280×800. While I could manually size the window to whatever size I wanted to, there was no indicator to show me what size I had just set it to. Nor was there a way to simply key in the size of the recording window that I wanted. In the standard version of iShowU, the pixel dimensions are shown in the lower right corner of the recording window as you drag it.
Although these quirks were annoying, the product performed well! Also the main reason that I like iShowU over any other product out there is that there is no post rendering process. The iShowU HD Pro version also renders in real-time as it’s recording. That’s HUGE for down and dirty recordings that you need to get done quickly! Once you stop the recording there is a Quicktime Movie of your recording sitting there waiting for you.
What about editing? Although iShowU HD Pro doesn’t have any built-in editing capabilities like ScreenFlow does, they have made it much easier to set it up so that it can be easily edited in apps like Final Cut Pro.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a Mac user and you need to record your screen, you should look at iShowU PERIOD. If you need more then check out iShowU HD or iShowU HD Pro. There have already been a couple of free updates for the app since I’ve had it. I would really like to see the quirks I’ve listed above worked out in the very near future.
iShowU goes for $20. iShowU HD goes for $29.95 and iShowU HD Pro goes for $59.95. If you have iShowU and you want iShowU HD or iShowU HD Pro you’ll be able to upgrade for basically the difference in price. Buy it here.