ScreenFlow 5 Review: Is It the Best Screencasting Mac App?

Let’s say you’re in the publishing business or you run a blog wherein you dish out tutorials and create program reviews for your readers and consumers.

Since the Internet and content creation is steadily evolving at a scintillating pace, so should the pieces of content you’re promoting: text-based content alone will no longer cut it. You need to create video presentations and demonstrations.

What better way to do so than with an application that allows you to record your screen and after getting the footage you need, edit it? Ladies and gents, introducing the ScreenFlow 5.

So, what exactly is it, what does it do, and what do we think of it?

What ScreenFlow 5 is and what it does

First off, it’s priced at $99.99 in the App Store, which makes it rather expensive no matter how you put it.

However, its capabilities justify the cost: the app is a screencasting tool which enables the recording of anything and everything that happens on your screen. Not only does it allow you to capture the contents of your monitor, but also record what’s happening on your iOS device, the audio of your computer, and the voice input being recorded by your camera.

It also doubles as a video editor for the captured screen footage. While it’s not as advanced as mainstays like Final Cut and Vegas – its capabilities are pretty basic, but it works well if you’re going to use it to edit screencast footage.

Screen recording

The ScreenFlow’s recording capabilities are pretty advanced: the app is able to record footage taken from Retina display screens, giving you high quality footage on your videos. However, it’s still unknown if they have updated it for the new iMac models. Its current version has been optimized for Yosemite – it’s only a matter of time before Telestream, the company which owns the app, optimizes it for El Capitan.

With it, you can also use it to add markers while recording and customize your frame rate (especially if you want to lessen file sizes) which comes in handy for recording on-screen game and app footage.

Personally, I found the experience great: compared to other screen recording software, the app didn’t slow down my Mac during recording. Note that I was doing so while recording a mock review of a high-performance real time strategy game – there were no frame rate drops and lag.

Video editing features

Though basic, its video editing capabilities are pretty usable. Right after you record your footage, you can go straight to editing it. The interface is intuitive and easy to use: it requires little to basic knowledge of video editing apps to work with – although people who have never used editing apps would have a bit of trouble coping up with it. Here are some of ScreenFlow 5’s video editing capabilities:

  • You can easily add images from your computer into the video being edited.
  • You can also add custom text and upload audio into the video. The latter is a great addition, especially if you need to gather and refine the recorded audio in other apps, like Audacity, you’ve taken from your microphone.
  • You can also add nested clips, closed captions, annotations, and video and audio filters.

I found it easier to use than iMovie. It’s also perfect for quick edits (clipping videos, etc) if you don’t want to use more advanced software.

After editing, it can either be in a Quicktime or MP4 format, allowing you to view it on most video players and in uploading it to various video and file sharing websites.

Mobile recording and editing

We’ve covered Unicorns, an application which allows you to connect your iOS device to your Mac and stream video online – it’s free…and it’s nothing compared to ScreenFlow 5.

If you connect your iOS device (via a Lightning Port) to your Mac, may it be an iPhone, iPod, or an iPad, ScreenFlow 5 captures a video of what’s happening on your device’s screen, along with the audio that is currently playing. There’s a catch though: you won’t be able to preview it on your Mac. However, you can still use your mobile device as usual – again, there’s little to zero lag and frame rate drops.

The negatives

Not everything is fine and dandy with it though. There are several improvements I would want Telestream to implement in the future versions. Anyway, here are some of the notable issues I’d want t them to address:

  • It could use more advanced video editing features. Not that I’m complaining, but adding more would do ScreenFlow 5 a lot of good.
  • If you use a USB-connected audio output, the recorded audio will be rather distorted delayed. However, if you use the Mac’s internal speakers, there won’t be any problems at all.
  • The file sizes are enormous, though you can adjust the frame rate and resolution to help deal with this.
  • Zooming in and out to a particular part of the screen is quite tedious. You need to add a video action to zoom in and later

However, its awesomeness far exceeds the negatives!

Why use it?

As mentioned earlier, it’s a useful tool for product reviews and tutorials. Other than that, it’s a great go-to app for almost everybody. Here are ways people can use it:

  • Developers who are creating demos of their applications. This is perfect if you wish to upload a preview of your product on the App Store. Considering that it allows taking videos from mobile devices, it’s great for iOS developers.
  • You’ll need it to record online video conferences, live events, and meetings, particularly if you outsource work and regularly meet with clients.
  • Websites who provide reviews and tutorials, especially if you’re reviewing mobile applications.

Verdict: should you download it for $99? Definitely. There are only a few alternatives to this app and if there are, ScreenFlow’s quality cannot be matched. Sure, there are some negatives and departments Telestream should work on, but these are nothing compared to what the app provides. If you haven’t downloaded and used it, do so now.


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