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Making Better Screencasts With Screenflow

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
This post is part of a series called How to Screencast.
A Masterclass in Screencasting on a Mac
Screen Cast Like a Boss Part 1

Screenflow is a powerful screen casting tool created by Telestream. If you have ever wanted to create quality screencasts, you should check out their free trial. Once you are convinced, go grab the full version from the Apple App Store.

In this tutorial I will show you how to take the clip you have recorded and add:

  • Shadows/callouts
  • Text overlays
  • Audio ducking or manipulations
  • Animated transitions

Screencast


Making Better Screencasts With Screenflow

The Set Up

Starting a basic screenflow recording
Starting a basic screenflow recording

To begin, launch screenflow and start recording. Any part of your screen will do. The length of the recording should be several seconds, but less than a minute. The point here is to create anything that you can manipulate. For the purpose of this training, it doesn’t really matter what you record.

Once you stop the recording, Screenflow should automatically bring up the timeline. Let’s start adding those extra features!

The generated timelines
The generated timelines

Adding Shadows/Callouts

Adding a callout that shadows everything on the screen except for the callout can be a tremendous way of driving your point home.

Choosing the callout menu
Choosing the callout menu

To add a callout to the first five seconds of the video, you will first need to ensure your scrubber (the red line that runs vertically down across all timelines) is set at the beginning of the clip. Then click on the video timeline to select it. Now choose the cursor icon tab from the edit menu. And lastly, click Add Callout.

The callout menu
The callout menu

A callout will be added in yellow to the timeline and the callout option panel will be enabled. The callout panel will give you 3 types of callouts to choose from:

  • Mouse Cursor - This callout will add a circular shadow to everything except for where the mouse cursor was during the recording. You can adjust the radius of the circle with the border slider to the right.
  • Foreground Window - This callout will add a shadow to every part of the screen except for the most prominent (or foregrounded) window.
  • Freehand - This option will let you click and drag a rectangle around the area that you would like to callout. The remaining part of the screen will get shadowed out.

Play around with each of these callouts until you feel you have mastered them and their various options. Once the callout is setup, you adjust the edge of the yellow box in the timeline to ensure an exact five second duration.

Adjusting the callout duration
Adjusting the callout duration

Text Overlays

Adding text to the video portion will follow a very similar process. To add text, move the scrubber to second five. Now click the T-icon tab in the editor menu and click the Add Text Box button at the bottom.

Adding text
Adding text

You will notice that your timelines have been bumped down in favor of a new text timeline. Use the options on the right menu to set the text options. Then simply use your mouse to place the text on the spot you wish it to appear on the screen.

Adjusting the text appearance
Adjusting the text appearance

Audio Manipulation

Adding callouts or text to the video portion is all well and good, but now lets look at how you can adjust the volume or add effects to the audio.

Manipulating the audio clip
Manipulating the audio clip

First, highlight the audio clip by clicking on it. Then click the speaker icon from the editing menu. This menu will let you adjust the volume levels or add ducking. You can also add effects ranging from “Bandpass” to “Smallroom with EQ”. The best way to find out what each effect does is to set the effect and then play back the clip.

The best option in this menu is the Remove background noise. Simply checking this box will automatically remove any background noise and slightly lower the volume levels. I’ve used this option on almost every recording I’ve ever done.  I can't recommend it enough.


Animated Transitions

If you have two very different video clips that you need to transition between, adding an animation will give your viewer a great visual clue.

Inserting animated transition
Inserting animated transition

Lets start by splitting this single clip into two separate clips. Move the scrubber to the middle of your timeline. Select the video clip and press Command Shift T.

Choosing different transitions
Choosing different transitions

To add the animated transition, use your mouse/trackpads secondary click option and choose Add Ending Transition. Now as you play the timeline between clip one and two, you will notice the animated change over. You can change the type of animation by secondary clicking on the animation itself. Choosing Show Transition Inspector will allow you the option to preview each transition as well.

Previewing each transition
Previewing each transition

Conclusion

These are just a few of the things you can do to add polish to your screencasts. And adding them couldn't be easier. With your next recording, try just one or two. I have no doubt that you will love the professional touch a callout, extra text, or better audio can add.

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