I produce a lot of screencasts. These are much more advanced than simple screen recordings, incorporating animation, graphics, zooms, effects and many of the fine-detailed editing techniques you would use in an editor like FCPX or Premiere - ripple edits, frame-by-frame animation and more. But my tool of choice for screen casting is Telestream’s Screenflow.
There are many reasons for this; it’s a dedicated screen capture suite that records in a special format, rather than outputting vast MOV files like more movie-centric software would do. It can directly capture from any connected iOS device. It has tools that address my exact needs, rather than the more movie-focused video editing packages you may be familiar with. It automatically identifies screen elements - almost creating a layered canvas, unlike the largely 2D operation of the aforementioned video suites.
Screenflow has been improving with every version, but the new version 8 feels like a big step forward. There’s an exhaustive list of every tweak here but I will focus on the major changes, which lean towards workflow. One of the things that has been fiddly has been the need to continually re-specify many settings and parameters between projects. It just didn’t save them, but now there are two great new features - templates and styles.
Templates remember all your project parameters including input device selection, screen size, frame rate and more. And styles, available in every edit panel, let you save and store presets for any element, such as text properties, video clip size and position, audio parameters, callout settings and so on. Almost any parameter in any edit section can be remembered as a preset and this will save a huge amount of time when editing. It’s very, very welcome.
You can now annotate in freehand form rather than being limited to preset shapes, and the edit timeline can be detached, which is great for multi monitor setups. There’s a quick narrate button in the timeline for quicker voice over recording, track thumbnails (finally!) that help you navigate projects, expanded frame rate support, caption burn-in on export, Instagram export and animated PNG export, and import support for H.265 (HEVC) formats as found mostly on the iPhone and iPad. With multi channel audio interfaces you can now select which channels to record (instead of it defaulting to recording them all) and YouTube scheduled upload is available.
One final big addition - and there are many smaller cosmetic tweaks and refinements we’ve not touched on - is access to an online Stock Media library right from inside the app. This costs $60/year and has over 500,000 images, video and audio clips that can be searched and downloaded from the browser as long as you’re online. This works seamlessly and the clips I tested (admittedly not all half a million) were high quality, usable content for backgrounds, menus, intros and other stock-style uses. It's much easier and cheaper for most users than buying from a third party stock library.
Screenflow 8 is a significant update that brings much-needed workflow enhancements in the form of styles, templates and access to the stock library. It’s more flexible and feels more professional than ever before. For any kind of promotion, product video, teaching or creative endeavour it’s both powerful and easy to learn. It provides animation tools that are slicker than a video editor’s and also much less complex than something like After Effects, especially for those who only need simple animation. It can import, record, edit and export video, audio and graphics in more or less any format, without blinding you with science.
What Screenflow does so well is to get out of your way - I can’t remember ever running into a format error, an unsupported file or having to render anything prior to export - it just handles what you throw at it. It can even access your entire audio plug-in collection for audio processing. And exporting to a whole bunch of formats and destinations is equally smooth. With version 8, Screenflow has addressed many workflow issues and is now the benchmark for screencast production on the Mac.