If you’re serious about software or iPhone demos, video tutorials and/or video training, then ScreenFlow is about your only choice on a Mac. ScreenFlow 5 is the latest iteration of this powerful video/screencasting application and Telestream has once again added some very nifty features while improving others.
ScreenFlow has always been about recording your entire screen and then editing the results in post . That hasn’t changed in version 5 — it’s the most sensible approach to screen recording anyway — but the latest version adds new features in several categories, making ScreenFlow 5 the screen capturing app of choice for anyone who creates screen recordings for professional purposes.
First let’s look at a few facts. ScreenFlow 5 works with Retina screens of up to 2880 x 1800 resolution without the app getting bogged down under the working stress. Part of ScreenFlow’s performance is its algorithm, part of it lies in its 64-bit architecture. ScreenFlow is developed by a company specialised in video production. Unlike its main competitor in this market, which is a company specialised in (Windows) desktop presentation software, Telestream knows about video editing. That’s why ScreenFlow has a workflow that comes close to a NLE, offering its users nested clips, closed captioning, chroma keying and rolling edits. Telestream’s transcoding experience results in ScreenFlow using the x264 codec for fast and high quality H.264 exports. The company’s many business partnerships let you enjoy publishing options such as direct export to Vimeo and Wistia (new in version 5). Multi-layer track-editing and profesionally designed transitions — 16 extra wipe transitions included in the new version — more or less complete the package.
ScreenFlow 5 adds iOS recording. iPhone and iPad screens can now be recorded straight into ScreenFlow, just like an iSight or DV Camera. A Recording Preview (a full-blown Recording Monitor, actually) allows you to quickly confirm you’ve got the right angle. It also gives a continual spot check of your shot to ensure all is properly aligned, while also displaying total elapsed time of your recording.
ScreenFlow 5 has native support for the MPEG Transport Stream/AVCHD file format, which higher-end Sony, Panasonic, and other HD camcorders use — no conversion is needed anymore.
You can set your recording frame rate. Although I think most users will leave this set to Automatic, you can set an optimal frame rate for recordings before you start. This should improve efficiency and decrease overall file size, at least if you know what you’re doing.
There was one new feature category I couldn’t test as I lack iOS devices, which is everything related to them, including Touch Callouts. I’ll tell you what these are without further commenting: Touch Callouts make up for the inability to pull in finger gestures when recording an iPhone screen remotely. In ScreenFlow 5 you can add your gestures explicitly by creating Touch Callouts — circular areas that represent a gesture — to guide your audience.
The Touch Callouts should ideally represent what you were doing with your fingers when demo’ing whatever it was you were demonstrating on the iOS device.
I tested the other new features while creating a screencast. The one that I love the most is the Snapback Action, which is available for all three types of recordings. It makes life much more simple because it automatically reverts the state of a clip to the previous state it was in, with no further effort.
In the Transition department, ScreenFlow 5 gets a whole new bunch of them by including a previously optional Wipe Transitions pack with 16 wipes. The other new features are all to be found under the sharing category. For example, you now have batch export — allowing you to export multiple files all at once to the same settings. An App Preview export option allows you to check for Apple’s specs for Preview on the iOS App Store, while the sharing dialogue for Youtube or Vimeo now also has an option to include a local copy as well.
Sharing services have been updated as well with Wistia having been added as a new service.
While working with ScreenFlow 5, I noticed that a number of minor flaws in the previous version have been fixed. For example, redrawing the audio waveform clips is much faster. The interface blends in nicely with Yosemite. The Timeline scrubber is now entirely red, making it easier to see on a cluttered timeline.
So, is ScreenFlow 5 worth the upgrade? I am sure it is. iOS recording is a boon, certainly for training videos or demo’ing, as is support for higher-end cameras. The Snapback Actions will save a lot of time and the overall improvements make up for a better and snappier user experience.
With version 5, ScreenFlow confirms its position as the best screencast app available for the Mac.