Capturing your Mac’s screen is easy. All you need is to remember the right keystrokes. Or, use the built-in Grab app on your Mac. But what if you want to capture all you’re doing on screen into a QuickTime video? With sound? And clicks? And video effects, transitions, and easy upload to YouTube or other places online? The list of apps that do that is decidedly shorter.
Screen Capture, Meet Video Producer
My latest project is to create a video channel for a few web sites. That requires screen capture. More accurately, screen capture to a video, including audio, soundtracks, onscreen clicks, character generation and more.
I’ve looked at and own Camtasia and iShowU HD, both of which do just those basics. Now I’m deep into the latest version of ScreenFlow. Think of it as screen casting, pod casting, video casting for the masses.
What ScreenFlow does on the surface is rather simple. Whatever you’re doing or viewing on your Mac’s screen gets stored as a video. Audio input (either built-in microphone, or professional mic) gets recorded, live with the video, but on a separate track.
This is the kind of app you need to produce instructional tutorials, training videos, presentations, et al. Basic usage is a snap. Click a couple of settings, and click the big red Record button. Whatever you do on screen gets recorded as a movie.
You can also overlay your Mac’s built-in iSight or FaceTime camera to the screen, recording both what’s on screen, and you speaking to the viewer. ScreenFlow records full screen HD and has dozens of built-in 2D and 3D transitions.
Who Needs All These Features?
Competition breeds feature creep. In this case, ScreenFlow ups the level of competition by matching others, then adding a few that are unique.
Add titles and text, video actions from zoom to pan, different screen points, even freeze frame or change a clip’s speed. Each screen video capture can store annotations. Video and audio tracks can be edited, and transitions added between clips. Audio has special filters to remove background noise and enhance audio volume.
Once you’re done with a production, the whole shebang can be exported to YouTube or Vimeo or a QuickTime movie with a click. It even saves finished videos as Windows Media files or Flash videos (functionality missing in most other video screen capture apps).
One ScreenFlow feature I prefer over iShowU HD and Camtasia is audio scrubbing. Grab the playhead and move left or right, and hear the audio so you’ll know precisely where to edit.
All three apps are less complicated to use than iMovie, though they focus only on functionality that matches presentations and training. My order of preference, for now, is ScreenFlow (best mix of production features), Camtasia (easiest to use), iShowU HD (more recording and export options).