Best Mac Screencast Software

Screencasting with ScreenFlow 3

Many of the videos I make for the Wizardgold YouTube channel our screencasts, showing how to use Mac applications for the readers and listeners of Mac20Q and now also for VideoMagical. Mac20Q did start off as a website with a podcast emphasis, hence listeners. If you are going to show your followers or fans screencasts showing how to do things with the Mac, then you’re going to need screen recording software. On the way to using ScreenFlow for Mac, I did try to other screencasting applications. While these others were competent, I found that the capabilities and usability of ScreenFlow meant no going back after trying it. There are some people that will look at ScreenFlow vs Camtasia, a ScreenFlow alternative, and wonder which is the best of the two, but for me ScreenFlow always wins hands down. Screencast for Mac with Screenflow.

The best part is not the screen recording

Screenflow for Mac

Even though Telestream ScreenFlow is essentially a screen recording application, the fact that you can take what you have recorded and also edit it, takes it from a good application into a great application. In fact, not only can you edit your videos within ScreenFlow and achieve great quality while doing so, you can also upload from within ScreenFlow to YouTube. This makes ScreenFlow a one-stop shop for screencasting for the Mac. In fact is it the best screencasting software.

Using ScreenFlow – The basics

ScreenFlow will capture the whole of the screen and you can even choose screens if you have more than one. At the same time it will record audio from either the internal microphones or better still the external microphone you have connected. You always get better sound quality recording from external microphones. On top of that, ScreenFlow will record the video from your iSight camera. Once you have all of this footage recorded from your computer, you can arrange it within the editing window. You can have a number of tracks or layers of video and audio which makes it very easy to do picture in picture, for example.

Making the transition with video clips

You can make easy transitions from one video clip to another by dragging the end of one clip of the top of the one next to it. Once you have done that you are presented with a settings icon, so that you can choose from a number of transitions available. For a more professional job, it is better to stick with the cross dissolve or a fade to black or white, but you can also do fancy things like making the picture rotate or slide across, among other things.

With a screencast you are bound who want to bring attention to areas of the screen. You may want to show off what to click on within an application menu. You may just want to zoom in, in order to give your viewers a closer look at something. You can easily zoom a track in or out using two fingers on the Magic Trackpad, or you can set it more specifically using a slider, or with numbers, or a percentage. In earlier versions of ScreenFlow I used that facility to create my own transitions or animations between clips, now and then.

Using callouts in ScreenFlow

Instead of using the zoom feature to do a pan and zoom for a Ken Burns effect, you can use callouts to highlight your video. When using the callouts, you can set a zoom for the area where the mouse is. You can also choose to blur either inside or outside the callout. If you’re blurring within the callout, it is probably because you are intending to hide a certain part of the screen. Instead of choosing to highlight and zoom where the mouse is, you can set it to put the emphasis on the foremost window. Then there is one more option for the callouts which is the freehand callout. The freehand callout can be a section drawn totally free hand with a round spot, or it can be a rectangle area.

Good enough to be called a pro application

Despite having used the application for a number of years, last week I managed to find a function I hadn’t used before. ScreenFlow will get the Mac OS X speech facility to talk for you, which works surprisingly well. You may have to re-spell one or two of the words so that they get sound right phonetically. Quite a handy capability, especially so if you have a speech impediment.

One of the tools that are used more frequently would be the marking of in points and out points in the timeline, so that I can do a rolling edit. This allows me to chop out a section of the recording, all of the tracks, and for the empty space to be closed up. Why this is so useful, is because it means that you can keep all of the sound and video tracks synchronised to the right of your edit.

Fast and efficient screencasting with ScreenFlow

Even though the application records the whole of screen, which can be quite a large area if you’re using the 27 inch iMac, once you have finished recording you hardly have to wait before you can start editing. ScreenFlow is quick. One of the other applications I tried for screencasting was much slower to have the video ready for me. When you start editing your video you can crop the area that you want to work with. Generally I will set the video area at 1280 x 720 and size things to fit. Sometimes I will leave it at the full size of screen, it depends upon what I have been recording, and then when I export out, I let it export out at 50% size.

Going all the way with your screen cast

I have tried exporting directly into YouTube from ScreenFlow, it works perfectly, but there are one or two things I prefer to finish off in Final Cut Pro X. I could easily have an intro and an outro ready-made, to drop into the media area of ScreenFlow. You can then take these and put them into the timeline to do your final edit. I use Final Cut Pro because I like the individual adjustments I can do with the titling and with the lower thirds. I can well imagine that there are one or two users that will use ScreenFlow to create their complete non screencast movie rather than using iMovie.

Getting the audio right in ScreenFlow

There were a few extra audio tools added in version 3 of ScreenFlow – screencast software. When you adjust the volume of the audio you get a visual representation of the size of the waveform. There are also some basic audio editing tools. You can easily chop up your audio track, which is especially good if you want to take out one or two words you no longer need. By pressing Command T when you have a track or multiple tracks selected, ScreenFlow will split the track or tracks. You can then grab an edge at the start or end of a video or audio clip, usually to shorten it.

The verdict on ScreenFlow

In my opinion there is no better Mac application for screencasting. You can if you wish record your screen using built-in Mac OSX tools for free. The recordings you get that way, you can also work with in iMovie, a version of which you will have on your Mac anyway. Although there is free screencasting software, the ease of use and the quality that you get with ScreenFlow for Mac, makes it well worth getting. I particularly like the video actions, which are used to set a start point and endpoint for a zoom in or zoom out of the video. I find that works much better in ScreenFlow than in Final Cut Pro X. ScreenFlow the screencasting application for the Mac gets the Mac20Q seal of approval. The only thing that I would complain about, is that there are icons at the start of tracks in the timeline which are too big and get in the way. Other than that, ScreenFlow for Mac is the bees knees. Time to download ScreenFlow and get your screencast online. It will not take you long to learn how to screencast.

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