First Look: ScreenFlow, screen capturing

First Look: ScreenFlow

Every Mac comes with the Grab program, which can capture images of the screen that are helpful for showing others how a certain program should look or what users should see after choosing specific commands. Unfortunately still images cannot always show the complete story, just as viewing a photograph is less enthralling than watching a movie. To fill the void Vara Software offers ScreenFlow, which captures screen activity and stores it as a Quicktime movie file that users can copy and distribute to others. Such Quicktime movies, called screencasts, are useful for creating video tutorials for training or teaching.

The simplest screencast records everything that occurs on the screen, including the movement of the mouse pointer and any menus or dialogs that open or close. Users can enhance a screencast by including captured video from a Mac's built-in iSight camera, any audio from the Mac, or audio captured from a built-in microphone.

ScreenFlow can record iSight video and audio

Including audio allows users to narrate the steps captured on the screen, while video can display the screencaster's face. By explaining movements or actions as users manipulate the mouse or type on the screen, viewers can better understand as welll as follow the screencast.

After capturing video and audio, ScreenFlow enables users to play the media back as a preview. By displaying the separate audio and video parts of a screencast in a timeline, users can edit the work in progress by resizing the screen image, placing a video (captured through an iSight camera) in new location on the screen, or changing when a screen image appears or disappears from sight.

The timeline lets you edit the parts of a screencast

Users can store photos, video recordings, and audio recordings in a Media window to further enhance screencasts. The software supports simple drag-and-drop of items into a screencast timeline. Adding additional media to a screencast often makes the movie more visually interesting to watch, and can improve the delivery of information to viewers.

The most common use for ScreenFlow is creating video tutorials, according to Vara, and ScreenFlow can highlight the mouse in a circle to help viewers follow movement as well as clicks of the pointer. The software enables viewers to see exactly where they need to move the mouse and what they need to click in order to duplicate the actions displayed in a screencast.

Priced at $100, ScreenFlow essentially turns any Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard into a screen capturing movie studio. Users who need to create video tutorials will find a program like ScreenFlow indispensable.
  1. JackWebb 03/01, 10:30pm

    I welcome this program but let's be honest about what actually exists. Snapz Pro has been out for at least a couple years doing screen recording pretty darn well:

    I don't know if there are others yet. Maybe someone else can chime in if there are.

  1. ice_cold_irony 03/02, 10:43am

    Tried a trial of Snapz before though....and it is not pretty. Confusing and plain ugly I thought, I'm thinking this will be great for telling my gramma how to reply to email

  1. Guest 03/02, 07:53pm

    I use iShowU and am quite happy with it. At $20 it is hard to beat!

  1. majormauser 03/02, 08:57pm


    Apparently you totally missed how different this program is from iShowU and SnapzPro. Yes you can continue to do the same old capture a small square and pray that its saves without stuttering. With ScreenFlow I can Have 2 HD movies playing at 30fps and capture the Whole Screen all at once and then edit out what I don't want. Rendering time....There is none. Unless you want to save your files as H264 or a standard format. But to make the file is instant!

    Screenflow is a MUCH better way to work... and it can't be compared to OLD-FASHIONED screen-capturing software.

    Right now there are about 7 decent screen-capturing software programs out there... they all do the same thing. ScreenFlow finally Brings Screen capturing into the 20th century by being different and Harnessing the Power of Leopard and OS X.

    I own ScreenFlow, Snapz and iShowU

  1. Mac-a-Bayan 03/03, 09:51am

    Although I do welcome the introduction of additional tools to the Mac, it is sad however that Adobe Captivate hasn't yet arrived in the Mac platform. Aside from screen-capturing captivate provides Auto-text caption, interactivity, Quizzes, scoring, and scenerio branching plus a flash output. If Adobe won't produce a Mac platform, then I hope other company will develop something similar. Captivate has become an ideal tool for training, tutorial and elearning.

  1. JackWebb 03/03, 12:52pm

    Yeah, I suppose I missed how this program is different, true. But the entire first paragraph of the article argues the strawman of movies versus stills while not acknowledging that other screen movie apps exist. That was my point and it is still valid no matter how much better Screenflow might be.

  1. JackWebb 03/03, 12:54pm

    If it is so much better, why does the article pretend that other movie screen captures never existed before this program. Why not tout how much better it is and why. I might have been enticed to try it then. The dishonesty of the promotion of this program turned me off.

  1. majormauser 03/04, 06:33am

    The Article is not a review.

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