A couple of weeks ago while attending the ADIM conference my buddy Colin Fleming turned me on to a new (well new to me) screen recording app called ScreenFlow (sorry PC users, this is Mac only). As you know, I’m always recording tutorials, podcasts, online classes, content for instructional DVDs, etc. So I depend upon my screen recording software weekly. My current choices are iShowU, which has become my primary app and SnapzPro X which not only does screen recording, but also does screen grabs in various formats with pro level controls.
The thing I absolutely love about iShowU is that once you’re done recording, that’s it! There is no post processing/rendering. The QuickTime movie pops up instantly. So it’s going to be hard to get me to go back to an app that has to render the final movie out after you record it.
Then why would I consider ScreenFlow?
Although ScreenFlow does require post process rendering, it may be worth it because of all the editing capabilities it has. Unlike iShowU and SnapzPro, ScreenFlow allows you to do post process editing right in the app. It also has a major advantage in that it also allows you to simultaneously capture your video via your iSight camera or other camera source. While all the apps capture your audio and computer audio (if you like), only ScreenFlow captures your video too. I really like that feature. ScreenFlow also adds several other enhancements like being able to cut out mistakes! Last night I recorded my most recent Creative Suite Podcast episode and I made a mistake during the recording. Once I was done recording, I was able to scrub to the mistake on the timeline and cut it right out. Not only can you make edits, you can have multiple tracks. So you can add in graphics and other recordings after the fact. Let’s say you mention a URL during the recording, you can add that URL as a graphic the pops up in the lower portion of the screen during the time that you mentioned it.
While these features are great, the other thing that really attracted me to ScreenFlow was the fact that it allows you to put in "Callouts." Callouts allow you to do things like zoom in on your cursor during post editing. You can add a click sound so that people know when you clicked your mouse. You can even add a radar type flashing circle so that people can see your pointer on screen and know exactly where you clicked. With Callouts you can also have your keyboard shortcuts displayed automatically on screen at the point you typed them. Very cool!
Putting ScreenFlow to the test!
Like I said, I wanted to see if ScreenFlow would be worth the post process rendering (during export). So I recorded my latest Adobe Creative Suite Podcast episode using it. This episode is a little longer (ok, a lot longer) than my average ones. It was almost 30 minutes long. That’s OK, because that’s as real world as it’s going to get for me. The recording worked GREAT! Editing on the timeline worked great. I was able to do a Ripple Delete and cut out a mistake I made during the recording (something iShowU and Snapz, don’t allow). I even took the time to add in some of the Callouts. After I was done editing, I did an export and that’s where the disappointment came in. About 3-5 minutes into the export process, the app crashed! I fired it back up (luckily I had saved my work) and tried it again. It crashed again at the same spot. I tried changing my export options several times and it crashed each time. Now I was annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to get my beautifully recorded podcast episode out of this thing and worse I’d have to record it over again using iShowU. However, I was persistent. I thought to myself, "it must not like something that I’ve added to this video." So I started turning off the fancy Callouts. Eventually I must have turned off the right one, because the export finally worked! I was too tired to try and narrow it down to exactly which Callout was causing the issue. Each time you relaunch the app after a crash it offers to send the crashlog to the developer and I did. So hopefully he’ll be able to fix this little (super annoying) glitch.
All in all, it’s a great app! I’m still not a fan of rendering, but it’s the price I’ll have to pay for the features that I can now add to my recordings to produce better recordings in the end. Although I didn’t use a timer, I would say that my export took about 15 minutes to complete of my 30 minute recording on my MacPro. ScreenFlow goes for $99.99 and you can download the demo and try it for free. Also check out the ScreenFlow demo video to see what’s possible.