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I thought the down time between the Clover / Confluence videos and an upcoming Agile Development video would give me a chance to give some pointers on how I’m using Screenflow to produce the videos we have been deploying to atlassian.com. I have found some useful workarounds to limitations in the Screenflow software that I have adopted as best practices that carry across the videos to create a consistent style.

Before I start the #1 tip that anyone who plans to use Screenflow should remember and the critical take away from this blog series would be Save Often! Screenflow tends to *CRASH* without warning somewhat consistently especially if you are using both sound and moving images in your project, so save often and save yourself time.

I have tried to break the blog series out into major sections that span an entire video production. In this series I plan to cover tips and tricks related to Recording, Editing, Transitions, How to deal with Complex Edits, and Title Screens, Basic Animation. I have left off pre-production steps like story boarding and effective feedback cycles which are beyond the scope of this series, however, knowing what message you want to deliver and how to best use feedback is as critical as the technical aspects of production. I hope to discuss these in future postings.

I don’t claim to know everything about Screenflow, these are just some of the shortcuts and workarounds I have found useful. Feedback, tips and tricks from other Screenflow users are much appreciated leave your tips in the comments!

Lesson #1: Recording

Before Recording

Practice the series of clicks and whatever you want to type several times before starting to record. Try keeping TextEdit open on a second monitor with notes on what sequence to do things so you don’t forget. It is also useful to have the *exact* text you may type at various steps pre-typed in TextEdit so you can cut/paste instead of wasting time typing in the video. Note: Sometimes the effect of typing text is desirable so use your best judgment when using cut/paste.

After you are satisfied with your practicing, practice one more time slowing down significantly. Be conscious of where your mouse is pointing at all times. If you want to highlight anything make sure your mouse pointer is next to what you want to call out. Screenflow severely limits what you can highlight and how you can call out. If there is a specific menu or thing you want to call out keep your mouse hovering over it for about 30 seconds without touching the mouse. It is always easier to edit unwanted things out of a video than add to it so delay, delay, delay. 20 to 30 seconds between each click through the entire recording as unnatural as it may feel is not uncommon.

There are two types of callouts in Screenflow. Mouse Callouts and Window Callouts. Window Callouts will give whatever window that currently has focus the ability to zoom in and give focus to its contents. Mouse callouts will put a round circle around where your mouse has focus. There are several effects you can give to a callout for example zooming in, delaying the start, delaying the end, blurring the background, etc.

As great as callouts are there are several annoying things about mouse callouts.

Example:

  • They *have* to be round
  • You can only grow the circle so much – if the thing you want to highlight is outside the circle you are out of luck.
  • They are sensitive to movement – if the mouse moves the circle moves, even subtle movements when zoomed in are very apparent. Steady hands are critical.

Similarly window callouts also have limitations. A useful feature would be the ability to highlight a section of the screen to callout – until that there are some workarounds.  Here is one to be conscious of when recording.  The others will be covered in the editing lesson.

Trick: Tooltips

Screenflow considers Tooltips a window.

If there is ever anything you want to callout that has a tooltip you are in luck.  Hover over the item you want to callout and keep the tooltip showing as long as possible.  When editing you can treat this tooltip as a window callout and grow the border around the tooltip.  This lets your callout appear as a rectangle instead of a circle.

screenflow_tooltip.png

Starting your recording

There are a couple of ways to kick off a recording.

screenflow_start_recording_1.png

#1 Is to launch screenflow and it will present this dialog.

If Screenflow is already running, you can get to the same dialog using the icon screenflow_start_recording_2.png in the menu bar.

The other way to kick off a recording is to go to the media tab in Screenflow and click Add Recording

screenflow_start_recording_3.png

which presents you with this dialog

screenflow_start_recording_4.png

The key thing to note is that starting off a recording using Method #1 you are required to record images. If you use method #2 you can record sound without images. This is useful if you want to record sound seperately from the screencapture.

Tip: Sound

Screenflow tends to crash more once sound is introduced into the project. Delay introducing sound to your project as long as possible.

Multiple Takes

If you mess up a take, back out your changes and try again. If you plan to only shoot a section of the previous take, pay attention to where your mouse was when you left off.

Keep your windows the same size for every shot. For consistency zoom in on the active window so you don’t need to worry about extra things like the system clock, or what programs were open when you were filming the take.

Stopping the Recording

You can also start and stop a recording using a hotkey which is set in the preferences of Screenflow.

screenflow_hotkey.png

This can be set to any key combination.

Trick: Hotkeys

Using the hotkey when stopping the recording prevents having to always edit the “mouse moving up to the stop recording menu” stuff out of every video clip.

Stay tuned for the next lesson which will cover Editing, Transitions, and How to deal with Complex Edits

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