ScreenFlow 9.0 adds NLE features and multi-screen capabilities

ScreenFlow 9 is a major upgrade to Telestream’s screen capture app for macOS. It’s fully Catalina compatible and has a slew of new features that enable you to create a complete videocast and/or screencast without having to jump back and forth between ScreenFlow and your NLE. Version 9 has multiscreen recording, a Timeline Tools palette and a clip editor, and it comes with the ability to use automatically generated proxies. There are also new controls for the radar click effect and some major performance improvements. Telestream included a trial subscription to their stock images and videos service.

Before ScreenFlow 9, and to obtain the highest possible quality when you record yourself presenting parts of a screencast, you would need to jump back and forth between ScreenFlow and an NLE. The reason was that ScreenFlow’s files could become so huge you would sit waiting for the app to catch up with every edit you made. Proxies are the obvious solution to that problem. Now, I thought the proxy feature would be available on all types of recordings, but it isn’t. Telestream’s technical product manager told me proxies are only available when the app decides it makes sense using them. As ScreenFlow optimises the recordings you make with it, that would indeed not make any sense. They are available for imported media, though.

Proxy support gives you three options in the Preferences panel: Manual, Automatic and Always. In manual mode, you create them using an option on the clip’s context menu. With many clips, you’ll get the “Not suitable for proxy” message. With 4K clips, however, you’ll quickly be able to create them — I tried it with a 2min 4K/30 MP4 (HEVC) clip. The size of the clip was 1.52GB; the proxy’s was 3.1GB. HEVC adds computational complexity in exchange for a lower bitrate while maintaining the same quality. On a GoPro, space is at a premium and the goal is to store the lowest bitrate/quality combination possible. In your NLE, storage space is not so much a concern, but the ability to playback the file without severely increasing CPU usage is. ScreenFlow will therefore decompress the HEVC file first and then store it as an optimised proxy file. With HEVC files, the resulting proxy will be bigger in most cases. With a high-res MP4, the proxy was 674MB; the original being 4GB.

It should be said that ScreenFlow 9 is quite fast when using any file — it’s faster than previous versions overall — but it was kind of weird to see that an equal-quality HEVC file rendered smoother than the bigger proxy. I can only explain that by the bigger size of the proxy versus ScreenFlow being better at rendering HEVC files now.

Another new feature is multi-screen capability. Multi-screen means literally that; you need two or more real monitors hooked up. It won’t work with Catalina’s Sidecar or the Duet system extension and an iPad. Having said that, the product manager told me they’re trying to get support for Sidecar ready within the version 9 timeframe.

The new Clip editor is a clip display that allows you to create In/Out markers, move the selected In/Out points and the I/O range with the mouse and place the selected range on the Timeline. It makes ScreenFlow more NLE-like than ever before and it’s a feature that simplifies a job significantly.

Also in the department “making the user experience more like a real NLE” is the support for Hand, Zoom, Blade and Track Select functionality, controlled by either hotkeys or mouse-selection. Needless to say, these save time.

Of course, Telestream there are had to be at least one fun improvement and that’s the Radar effect, which is about the most often used when creating software presentations and tutorials as it is nice to look at and pretty efficient at drawing people’s attention. You can now adjust the size, colour, duration and blur to create the perfect look. Especially combining a blur with a long duration creates a mesmerising effect that, if your viewers have been burning the midnight oil, makes them fall asleep rather than keeping them on their toes, though.

Finally, ScreenFlow 9 has updated capture card support, thumbnail image improvements and better manual media management.

It’s the best upgrade of the app I’ve seen in years.