Reviews, Video

Screencasting on the Mac more fun, efficient with ScreenFlow 7

Fancy creating a screencast or a presentation involving demos of iPad apps, or a PiP (picture in Picture) video presentation of new software? Then ScreenFlow has been your best option for some years now. Telestream recently released version 7 of the application. It comes with new options, such as text animations, a global media library, multi-pass x264 encoding and more.

With ScreenFlow 7, you can now finally add MP4 files, like iPhone and GoPro recordings, to your project without serious performance hits. Even large MP4 files process fast and exporting is a lot faster than with older versions of the app.

Of course, every new version of any app justifies adding some new functionality. The best new feature for creating a professional looking end-result is animated text. ScreenFlow 7 lets you add a number of animated effects to your videos with enough options to create unique text effects. One word of advice: don’t go overboard with them as that may actually make your video look more amateurish.

A new feature that I don’t fully understand the need for is that you can now set your clips to play in reverse on the timeline. Why you would like to do that is a mystery to me, but for those of us who have the need, it’s available now.

A new feature that I do see the need for and that will allow you to more efficiently manage your assets is the Global Library. We already had project libraries, now you can show assets under the Global Library icon and re-use common assets, such as your intro/outro graphics for each video. This is going to be a real time saver and it will also save some space on your disk.

ScreenFlow 7 offers a new export dialogue, with the ability to switch from automatic to manual mode. The default export dialogue starts in automatic mode, showing presets as it used to, but you can also create your own export settings in its own tab. ScreenFlow 7 lets you select between higher quality or quicker exports and automatically picks the best settings for your project.

For a long time — I can’t remember if it was there in the very first version, but I believe it was — ScreenFlow has had its own automatic save and document recovery system, but when it’s combined with macOS’ native AutoSave functionality, conflicts can arise. I personally have never had any problems with it, but Telestream says projects could easily become corrupted when saved to remote locations such as network drives or cloud storage solutions, or when transferring files between projects.

The combination of both recovery systems also could use excessive storage space in certain instances. When you start up ScreenFlow 7, though, the macOS AutoSave is automatically turned off and these potential issues no longer occur.

Audio processing support

One thing that I personally am very happy with is the audio waveform progress bar. Often, when you’re editing a ScreenFlow project, the audio waveform doesn’t show immediately and it may indeed take a while before it does. ScreenFlow 7 will now keep you informed that it is performing an intensive process in the background, and it will alert you when it is completed.

Other improvements include ScreenFlow 7 now taking advantage of hardware accelerated encoding, multi-pass x264 encoding, which is said to improve quality of exports when compared with single-pass. ScreenFlow 7 supports 60fps timeline frame rates and in the bottom right there’s an indicator that shows the mode you’re in. A shortcut manager lets you add new shortcut keys to commands that did not previously have a shortcut assigned to it, or change existing ones. The shortcut manager even lets you have different shortcut sets.

An improvement that makes the app (still) crash easily is the added support for the custom interfaces that come with most Apple Audio units (AU). I tried it with Apple’s own (these worked fine), iZotope’s (some crash the app or make it hang) and NUGEN Audio’s (crashing ScreenFlow hard).

Finally, ScreenFlow 7 will allow you to quickly and easily publish directly to Imgur. There’s no need to export as you can simply visit the upload page, find your file, and submit.

ScreenFlow 7 is certainly worth the upgrade price of $39 (from ScreenFlow 6.x) and as it is the best screencasting / video tutorial creating app for macOS, its $129 price for a full licence is pretty decent too. Telestream should, however, find a way to make the AU custom interface work for all Audio Units, not just Apple’s and a few others.