I just tried to create a screencast of one of the iPhone apps we developed. This was harder than creating the app itself, and the result was pretty poor.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if I didn’t happen to find the right tools, but everything I tried is either crap, works to some extent but doesn’t do everything I need and has some bugs, or is overly complex.

I tried:

  • Snapz Pro X
  • Quicktime X Screen Recording
  • ScreenFlow
  • Camtasia
  • Adobe After Effects CS4
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS4
  • QuickTime 7
  • VLC
  • Flash and F4V
  • iMovie

The biggest problem I had was not being able to get decent quality out of the screencast tools. Everything exported from Quicktime X, ScreenFlow, Snapz Pro X and Camtasia seemed to have washed-out colors.

I really tried all different kinds of settings, filters, and codecs, but for some reason the colors always looked crappy. When I opened the files in VLC the colors were fine, but not in QuickTime or exported as a Flash movie.

I even tried to convert the files in VLC to another format (hoping that this would solve the problem), but that didn’t help.

After Effects and Premiere Pro had terribly complex interfaces and I didn’t manage to get anything useful out of them. I have to add that I only tried for about 15 minutes, but I shouldn’t have to read a book to get something like a screencast done.

Then I tried Adobe Flash and created a F4V movie. The colors were still washed out, but I had already given up on them anyway. So I thought I’d add a nice FLV web player to our homepage, only to find out that there is no out-of-the-box, simple player that just works. All I wanted was a player with a play and pause button, maybe a video timeline that hides after the movie starts, and a volume control.

Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Regarding the actual screen capture tools, in the end I used Camtasia to create the screencast. However, it also has the color problem, and it lacks some important features and seems to have some pixel edge problems. I ended up adding five layers of white images to hide some gray or yellow pixel lines on the edge of the actual movie. The zoom effect I added didn’t seem like a good idea anymore, as I had to add a white layer for every frame of the zoom animation.

If you’ve read this far, you probably want to see the end result. Well, it’s a YouTube video now - with crappy quality.

If anyone has a better toolchain or some advice on how to improve the quality, please leave a comment. I’d really appreciate it.

Anyhow, here’s the video: