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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.

My one complaint about the feature is that the callout dots are constrained to a line. That means that I can't illustrate a four-finger pinch-to-Home-screen gesture as I can't put four dots on screen in a four-cornered arrangement.

Making editing easier

If you've spend enough time with ScreenFlow you're accustomed to those "There's got to be an easier way to do this" moments. For example, you've added a video action that zooms in on a particular portion of the screen. Undoing it requires that you add another video action and then reverse the settings from the previous one — zoom out to 100 percent, for instance.

ScreenFlow 5 offers a new feature called Snapback Action that, when implemented, adds an action of the same length that undoes the previous action. Using my example, I'd add my zoom action and then, when I want to return to full screen, choose Actions > Add Snapback Action > Video. An "undo-what-you-just-did" action is added to the timeline and ends at the current playhead position.

Another time-saver is a the Recording Monitor. Select it from the ScreenFlow menu and you see a preview of what your webcam is capturing along with meters that reflect your audio input gain. This is particularly helpful when you're using a webcam for a picture-in-picture effect. Far too often you've performed your capture and, on playback, discovered that your face is positioned incorrectly or your microphone gain was set too low. Being able to preview each is helpful. If you have two monitors you can keep this preview window open, but "off camera" on the second monitor. If, instead, you leave it on your primary monitor, it will be captured along with everything else on the screen.

ScreenFlow 5 also lets you insert markers — both during recording and as you edit. To do the former you need to set up a hotkey that you can press when you want to mark a point in your capture — perhaps when you want to later remind yourself that you'd like to cut your clip at this point or add an action. This is yet another time saver that allows you to spend less time scrolling through your timeline to find just the perfect edit point.

Finally, ScreenFlow 5 has incorporated Apple media browser. If you wish to insert an image from your iPhoto library or a track from iTunes, you can now easily do it.

Export duties

ScreenFlow 5 also introduces a couple of new export features. As I mentioned earlier, ScreenFlow now lets you capture video and audio directly from an iOS device. This makes it possible for iOS developers to create preview movies that they can post at the App Store. Making that job just a bit easier is the new iOS App Preview export setting. Choose it and your movie will be converted using the ProRes 422HQ encoder.


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