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ScreenFlow 5 review: The Mac's best screencasting app gets better with iOS capture

Christopher Breen | Dec. 1, 2014
If you're in the business of creating screencasts or Mac-based video demos, there's a very good chance that you're already using Telestream's $99 ScreenFlow. With the latest update, the app is sure to gain a new group of supporters--iOS developers. And it will because Apple is encouraging these developers to submit app previews--video captures of their apps in action. It happens that this latest version of ScreenFlow not only lets you capture video directly to a Mac running Yosemite from an iOS 8 device that bears a Lightning-connector, but also lets you add touch callouts--overlays that mimic finger taps and swipes.

You're welcome to combine multiple input sources. For example, you could choose to capture your iPad, your Mac's display, narration from a connected microphone, the audio your Mac plays, and video from your Mac's FaceTime camera or compatible webcam. Most sources are added as separate tracks. Select a video track and you can move and resize its contents in ScreenFlow's preview window. For example, you might want to move the video captured by your webcam to the top-right corner and make it smaller, place your Mac's screen capture on the left side of the frame, and scale the iPad's video so it takes up most of the frame's right side and slightly overlaps your Mac's screen.

When capturing audio played by my Mac I ran into one significant problem. While the Mac's audio was captured perfectly as long as I chose the computer's internal speakers or connected Thunderbolt display as an output destination in the Sound system preference, if I instead chose a USB-connected destination such as my audio interface, the Mac's sound was distorted and delayed. Telestream is aware of the issue and is working on a fix.

Enhancing the mobile experience

The ability to capture high-quality video from your iOS device is welcome, but just as useful is the option to then add callouts so that viewers have some notion of where you've tapped and swiped. This feature is called Touch Callouts in ScreenFlow 5 and works this way:

Select the video track captured from your iOS device, drag the playhead to the position in the timeline where you'd like to add the callout, and choose Actions > Add Touch Callout. A gray dot appears on the screen that you can drag to a new position. A yellow Touch Callout action is added to the track and the Touch Callout pane appears on the right side of the ScreenFlow window. Within this pane you can choose the number of dots that you'd like to appear, their size, spacing, color, and opacity. You can also create an animation so that the dot moves from one place to another — something you'd do to illustrate a drag or swipe.

Adding these callouts would be tedious if not for the fact that ScreenFlow 5 also adds templated actions. This lets you create actions and then save them. For example, you could create and then save a Touch Callout action that illustrates a swipe down. You can later choose that action from the Templates entry in the Actions menu and it will be added to your project, complete with associated animation. Telestream has kindly added a collection of preconfigured Touch Callout actions including Single Tap, Swipe Left, Swipe Right, Zoom In, Zoom out, Four Finger Swipe Left, and Four Finger Swipe Right.


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