I got the opportunity recently to play around with ScreenFlow video capture software for Mac. It is a very easy alternative to use compared to Final Cut Pro and takes very little time to get up and running. I think it is great for recording short video lectures as supplemental course materials. It can also be used for more professional presentations: here at Duke, for example, CIT uses ScreenFlow to create Coursera videos, both in their awesome new Multimedia Project Studio and in Professor’s own offices (they have a great post about preparing a class). Here I am going to preview the software briefly to give you an idea of how it works.

First off, if you want to test drive the software, which normally costs $99, you can download a demo version at the ScreenFlow website–be warned, though, any videos you make with the demo version will have the words “Demo Mode” watermarked prominently across the entire screen. Here at Duke, you can use the Multimedia Project Studio (MPS) to access the software. If you record a short video using the demo software, you can save the .screenflow file to a thumb drive and take it to the MPS for processing, but do know that the files a very large: the five minute long video I recorded was about 2 gigabits in size. Duke already has a good post on how to use ScreenFlow, so I am not going to reiterate the whole process of creating a video, but just go over some of the features that you can pick up quickly.

The beauty of ScreenFlow is that it can record everything you are doing on your computer screen while (optionally) recording your voice and video through a webcam. All you have to do is start up the software and start a new capture when you are ready (Either through a taskbar icon or pressing ⇧⌘-2). One of the beauties of the software is that it records all your windows individually, so you can focus on the window rather than just record everything that is going on on your screen. For my video, I recorded myself talking through a Powerpoint presentation. When you are done, press ⇧⌘-2 and you will jump straight into the editing window.

ScreenFlow editing window

ScreenFlow editing window (from the Duke “The Spark” website)

At the bottom of the editing window you will see the “tracks” of your recording. These tracks are the content of your video: it will run as long as there is a track to display. The defaults will likely be the webcam video of you talking and the image of your screen. Zooming in and out will become useful, as it allows you much more control over the timing for your transitions.

You can easily resize everything that is on the screen by clicking on it and resizing. I only wanted the image of me talking at the start, so I easily decoupled the audio from the video with a simple right-click. Then, I positioned the video on my opening slide, and slid the video track so that it disappeared at the point when I left my first slide.

You can also easily add annotations to the video from the task window on the right. At one point in my video I was describing the difference in stress on words in Latin, and I used some jargon that I realized later I should probably explain. I forwarded the video to that point in the lecture and clicked in the task window over to the insert text tab. I created a text box on the video canvas and wrote out the definitions of the words I used. When I created the text box, a matching track appeared below, which I slid to appear for the appropriate length of time. Easy as pie!

When you are done editing the video, it is easy to export the video to any number of file formats and the software provides an easy menu to upload the video to popular video sharing sites like Youtube. Because I was just looking to keep my file size down and not make the video too public, I exported a low quality version to my Google Drive, which was as easy as selecting it from a drop-down menu and signing in. Overall it was a fun and easy task: I highly recommend it!

You can see the video at this link: