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Review: Screenflow 8

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.

Big Screen

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.

But There's More...

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.

Conclusion

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.

Price: $129

Pros: Huge rage of formats supported. Very slick and friendly interface. New workflow features like styles and templates are very welcome. Improved audio recording features, access to all your plugins. Much more approachable than After Effects for non-graphics pros. Stock media library option. Better multi-monitor options. An awesome screen casting package.

Cons: Mac-only.

Web: https://www.telestream.net/screenflow/overview.htm
Learn more abut video editing: https://ask.video/
Hollin Jones

Hollin Jones | Articles by this author

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance writer on music technology and Apple topics for well over a decade, along the way publishing several books on audio software. He has been lead writer at a number of prominent music and technology publications. As well as consultancy, full-time journalism, video production and professional photography, he occasionally plays Hammond, Rhodes and other keys for people who ask nicely. Hollin is Contributing Editor at Ask.Audio.

Comments

Aug 26, 2018
Jay Asher
Hollin, I had to roll back from 7.3 to 7.2 because of the following issue: when trying to record a live performance from the Facetime camera on my iMac while playing playing and singing along to a Logic Pro X track, in order to capture all of it I had to switch the audio output preference in Logic Pro to Telestream Audio Capture but as soon as I did, the latency when I play the keyboard is just too much to keep time.

Is Screenflow 8 better at this, because 7.3 was a step backwards.
Aug 28, 2018
Hollin
Hi Jay

I'd heard about this but never experienced it with my combo of software and hardware. So I don't know - probably worth asking Telestream.

What I can say is that I have long used Soundflower as a virtual internal routing system for audio on OS X, which has solved a lot of these kinds of problems. Might be worth a look.

https://github.com/mattingalls/Soundflower
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