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ScreenFlow - Screen movie capture and editing Pick of the Week
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[Score: 8 out of 10]
No, this isn't a one-day-late April Fool's Day prank -- the Pick of the Week is back, hopefully somewhat more regularly than it has been in the past. To start things off, I've chosen an app that has really changed at least one aspect of my work -- my production of video blogs for Macworld. In the past, I've used Snapz Pro X (a member of the Pick of the Week Hall of Fame) to capture all my video for such projects. However, for my most recent video, I used ScreenFlow, and found it had some very nice features that made for a more user-friendly video -- things like zooming in on windows or cursors and adding callouts. ScreenFlow also keeps track of mouse clicks, key presses, and the mouse cursor, so you can add clicking sounds, display typed keys, and show or hide the cursor as you wish during editing.

The other key advantage over Snapz is that ScreenFlow captures are instant, so as soon as you stop the capture, you can start editing. Only when you're done editing and need to export out the final movie do you wait for processing. (With Snapz, you wait for the render after every capture, then go and edit your footage.) You can read more about ScreenFlow in this Mac Gems entry I wrote about it a couple weeks ago.

I'm now using a combination of Snapz and ScreenFlow in my worfklow, as both have their strengths. (Snapz Pro includes a still capture feature, and you can create "follow the mouse" movies that track the cursor as it moves around the screen.) But for a first-version product, ScreenFlow has a great feature set and performs well, even on slower hardware. I did all my captures on the latest video on a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo mini, and never had any dropped frames or laggy performance.

If you do much at all with screen movies, it's well worth a look. It's not perfect -- you can't, for instance, specify a portion of the screen to capture -- but the combination of instant capture and useful editing tools make it a compelling choice to consider.
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Authored by: keaka on Apr 02, '08 10:35:47AM
Have you tried iShowU? How does it compare to ScreenFlow? At $20, iShowU is a lot cheaper, but I haven't tried either of them yet.

Sanity Software:

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Works on a powerbook, too
Authored by: sr105 on Apr 02, '08 02:23:27PM

I have been using this on a 1.25 GHz Powerbook. It works really well. The only downside to a slow machine is that the final renderings take a while, but that's not really a problem for me since that only occurs at the end of the entire capture and edit task.

Just go to the screenflow website and there are lots of demo movies online that show the program in action.

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Use a headset or an external mic
Authored by: sr105 on Apr 02, '08 02:26:20PM

I made a 15 minute video earlier and decided to use the built-in mic. I didn't notice until I started editing that my laptop fan started during the recording and is *really* loud when recorded by the built-in mic.

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ScreenFlow - Screen movie capture and editing
Authored by: sborsch on Apr 06, '08 11:20:23PM
I'm a fan of SnapzProX but needed more and bought iShowU...mainly for the instant rendering. When ScreenFlow came out, I was blown away and purchased it immediately since it gave me the ability to make a screencast into a production.

The ability to modify the cursor highlights and add video effects is huge. But being able to import media is incredibly useful (I often export a Keynote as a QT movie and import it for a short, few slide intro to a section in Screenflow).

Here's one "gotcha" for all users to be aware of: Though Screenflow *does* work on older hardware, I created a Screenflow on my Macbook Pro (Intel, of course) and wanted to finish it at home on my dual 2.5ghz G4 tower with my big cinema display. The kicker? The file isn't compatible from Intel to PPC or vice versa and it took a trouble ticket and a response from Screenflow support to learn that this Macintel/PPC machine-to-machine file use isn't supported.

This is a remarkable product for a 1.0 version and I'm expecting even more from the next release and have already convinced four others to buy it in the last month.

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Some more reports for comparison
Authored by: osxpounder on Feb 24, '09 10:39:31AM

For those interested in comparing screen capture software:

The ability to modify the cursor highlights is included in iShowU (for both left and right clicks). I've used that feature.

I know of no video effects in iShowU. iShowU lacks a video editing interface and that cool ability of SF to extract a window/dialog box as if it were on its own layer.

I have moved captured video from Intel to PPC machines and continued working without problems. I think this may be because the files iShowU exported used my choice of QT-compatible codecs.

On my Mac Pro, iShowU is stable and reliable, whereas ScreenFlow is not. SF crashes now & then.

Snapz Pro X 2 crashes often, too, usually at the worst time: it either crashes during export (losing all your work, forcing a reshoot), or it exports a file that won't open in QuickTime. Since the export takes so long, that's a very bad time to discover that Snapz has failed.

Anyone's experience may vary; this has been mine. I used Snapz a lot, till iShowU, then iShowU often. I've only used the demo version of SF. It's too expensive for my needs, because I already have 2 or 3 video editors: QT Pro, iMovie, and Final Cut Studio. For those who lack an editing program, SF may be a better choice.

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