Screencasting on a Mac
I recently moved to a Mac as my main studio computer. One of the things I have to do regularly is screencasting (I do all of the tutorial videos for FXpansion). My needs are fairly simple:
- capture everything on screen
- capture system audio
- capture a separate microphone
- (optional) capture webcam
- edit all together afterwards, add titles and maybe import a few images
Here’s what I’ve tried so far:
The only ‘all-in-one’ solution appears to be ScreenFlow, by Telestream. Screenflow shows alot of promise, allowing you to capture, edit and title your tutorial all in the same application, but I had a few issues. Firstly ScreenFlow seems to struggle with multiple-output audio interfaces. This was a bit of a problem for me as I use an M-Audio Profire 2626. Most of the time ScreenFlow simply didn’t record any system audio at all. I did find a workaround eventually, which is to switch the number of ‘active software returns’ to 2 in the ProFire’s Settings panel. This fools ScreenFlow into thinking that the Profire is a dual output soundcard and recording system audio becomes stable. There are still more problems though. You want to record your voiceover AND the system audio at the same time right? ScreenFlow struggled with that too. If I tried to use the Profire for both duties the microphone recording came out distorted and unuseable. I had to dig out an old Mbox soundcard just to handle mic duties.
Apart from the soundcard problems, I also had problems importing videos created with other software. The videos would look blurry as soon as they were imported into ScreenFlow. Telestream’s tech support are currently looking into this.
I don’t want to put anyone off using ScreenFlow. It’s the only piece of software that met all my needs and it’s got some great features. It can record screen, webcam, system audio and microphone audio all at the same time (soundcard problems not withstanding) and once you get into editing your video, the workflow is fast and pleasurable. Zooming into parts of your video is really easy, and there are some nice effects to make your video look more pro such as drop shadow, reflections, rotations, titles etc.
Just make sure you test out the demo with your system first, especially if you’re using pro audio gear.
iShowU, by ShinyWhiteBox, is a capture program only, meaning that you’ll need separate editing software aswell. It will capture screen, system audio and microphone audio into one Quicktime file. The two audio streams are kept separate in the Quicktime file. Of all the software I tried, iShowU seemed to be the most stable and trouble free. It’s basic but it works.
The main problem here is that editing software for the Mac consists of either Final Cut Pro (a cool $1,299), Final Cut Express ($199) or iMovie. The obvious choice here is Final Cut Express, but it’s not an application I’m a big fan of. Doing things like Zooms are not trivial. Whilst it may be a powerful video editing application, it is by no means optimized for screencasting/tutorials.
Snapz Pro X ($69)
Snapz Pro X, by Ambrosia software, is another capture-only utility. I didn’t test it quite as fully as the other two applications here. In the main it seemed to work, although I couldn’t find any option to select which input to record microphone from, so presumably you can only use your Mac’s build in Mic input. I was also put off by the fact that it shouts idiotic gimmick phrases at you, like “Action!” whenever you start recording and “That’s a wrap!” when you export the video. This plus the fact that it’s 3 times the price of iShowU (for no additional features) put me off somewhat. Again, you need your own editing software for this.
The choice is limited. The ideal solution for my needs was ScreenFlow, but the technical issues are annoying. I’d love to hear from anyone doing screencasting/tutorials on a Mac. What software do you use? What’s your workflow? Do you use multiple applications? Perhaps there’s some software I’ve overlooked.