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Edit Review: Telestream ScreenFlow 1.1

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Reviewer: Franklin McMahon

Screencast software captures your desktop and your camera, offering extensive editing chops.


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For the desktop windows in your screencast, you can choose to show the mouse pointer. You have two options here: You can either automatically record your mouse-clicking sounds and zoom in to wherever the mouse is at any time, or you can highlight any mouse move or window by adding a callout. A callout is a point in your presentation timeline at which you want something to stand out. For example, highlight the mouse cursor and place an outline, a bordered circle, or a bright, feathered oval around it. You can set durations for your effects and have a highlight fade in rather than pop up.

Amazingly, ScreenFlow even lets you highlight the foreground window in your screencast. If you are recording your desktop and you bring up a program, with a few clicks, you can set it to slowly zoom in to the window while the background fades out to dark gray and blurs. Don't like it? Just delete the action and try something else.

Most of your work will be interacting with the timeline. Drag a graphic to your timeline and shrink it down as a watermark by reducing its opacity. Want to add music? Drag in an audio clip and then use the program to turn the audio level down so it plays under your vocal presentation. Any audio on the timeline can be faded up or down at any point. Forget to comment on something? Record a patch and add it. Need to make some edits? The software allows in/out points for cut-and-paste editing, as well as ripple editing and trimming by dragging. The program records whatever happens on your screen; you can record DVD video and audio for your presentation and have it play back at full speed within your presentation. You can also have multiple instances of ScreenFlow open at once so you can work on several timelines.

Once you have your entire presentation tweaked to perfection, it's time to export. There are several presets for web video, Apple TV and iPhone, and NTSC DV, but there's no Flash option. You can also export to any format supported under QuickTime, including Apple ProRes 422. When exporting, you can scale the movie up or down to any size, as well as add motion blur. Enabling motion blur upon export ensures that windows that move quickly or spin 180 degrees do so smoothly. Little touches such as this make the video look professional. Your file gets saved in Apple's package format, so your video elements are saved with your project as one file.

The program runs smoothly and quickly on a Mac Pro. I experimented with it on a client project by recording myself. One snag: I used a standard DV camcorder for video, and while I was editing, the camera shut down automatically after 5 minutes of disuse. ScreenFlow kept prompting me to check the camera because it saw that the camera was disconnected. Ideally, an external unit should be able to be shut down and not trigger prompts that disrupt the workflow.

Also, because this was a DV camera, the video was 720×480. When I played it back, the program did not adjust it to square pixels or remap to 640×480. As a result, the clips looked slightly elongated. Resizing the video is easy. You can move any side or hold shift to scale up and down, but there should be an option in the program to correct for aspect-ratio variations. This is hardly a deal-breaker. Also, ScreenFlow defaults to starting the capture program when you boot up your Mac without asking you. (This can be switched off in Preferences.)

Testing on a eight-core Mac Pro, I did have a couple of instances where I got hung up. The 1.0 version had a few rough edges that have been tightened up for the 1.1 update, so the program is maybe one update away from being bulletproof. On the plus side, you might have noticed that I did not stack the software up against other Mac screen-capture programs, and that's because ScreenFlow simply is in a class by itself. First, it harnesses the latest OS X technologies. Moreover, its focus on editing after recording, its professional-looking graphical options, and its ability to tweak/alter just about any element make ScreenFlow the leader in the Mac screencast market.


bottomline

Company: Telestream
www.telestream.net

Product: ScreenFlow 1.1

Assets: Allows editing after recording, harnesses Mac OS X technologies.

Caveats: Launches straight into recording on system boot up, limited aspect-ratio variations.

Demographic: Mac-based editors.

PRICE: $99

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