How to Apply Green Screen (Chroma Key) Using ScreenFlow

In this video, I answer a common question asked by subscribers in my ScreenFlow course about how to apply the green screen (chroma key) effect in ScreenFlow.

Beginning at bout the 15:35 point in the video, I also include a bonus topic that shows how you can use the green screen / chroma key effect -- along with simple image designs from Keynote or PowerPoint -- to create a simple promo clip, intro or outro for your own videos.

Key Highlights

00:20 Why green screen isn't always the best option

2:15 - The lighting issue

6:40 - Chroma key settings: White Clip, Tolerance, Angle

15:35 - Bonus topic: Use Keynote or PowerPoint to design a simple promo clip

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[ScreenFlow] Replace that screencast voiceover without losing video sync

At the DevLearn conference last week, I attended one of the breakout sessions titled, Adding Screencasting to Your eLearning Tookit. Speaker Mike Baron, Chief Storyteller at, delivered a great session with a wealth of actionable tips ranging from software equipment and budget considerations to techniques for working with subject matter experts (SMEs) and rapid content authoring sourced from SMEs.

Mike Baron - Devlearn 2014

Mike recognized me and was kind enough to give a shout-out for the blog while also kindly allowing me to chime in with my two cents during the Q&A. (Mike's pretty cool. 'Hope you get a chance to meet him one day.)

Q&A - How to replace audio narration with new voiceover.

One of the questions we fielded related to replacing audio narration with a new voiceover -- but to also be able to do so without losing the synchronization between the new voiceover and the original video.

The answer (the subject of the video above) was right up my alley since it comes up quite frequently on projects where I repurpose product demos or recorded SME meetings for quick turnarounds as video "how to" tutorials or marketing demos.

As I was giving my verbal answer in the session's Q&A, I described my technique of using the caption feature in ScreenFlow and Camtasia as a transcript. Doing it this way helps a lot in guaranteeing that the spoken word for the new voiceover will stay in sync with the video timing of the original narration.

Check out the video above.  If you have any questions or suggestions, I hope you'll share 'em in the comment box below.

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“Hey Mel. What’s your setup for making your training videos?”

Upset teenage boy at computerSo that was a question I got asked (again) recently. I've written about this before. (Ref: "My Studio Setup For Screencasting Production.") But, it's also good to update the list every now and again.

Below is my latest response to this question. I'd be remiss if I didn't share it with you, as well. So here you go.

For recording/editing stuff on the computer screen, here’s what I recommend:

For audio setup, here’s what I recommend:

For any camera work:

  • Almost any DSLR with video/audio capabilities… though I do recommend a model that has a flip-out / reversible LCD and an audio-in port. (We use a Lumix GH3, but there are other brands that’ll do the job just as well…. Or better.)
  • Studio lights… you’ll need at least 3 of these… 4 is better. (One behind the subject, and then two in front of the subject.) For this you might look to or

If you have any requirements of a backdrop:

We got ours from If you need a backdrop setup, then I can recommend the following shopping list:

  • A 10’ x 10’ frame (I got this one)
  • A paper-based backdrop. Check out those by savage paper (also on amazon)
  • Clips (I got these). You’ll probably want about 6-8 of these.

eLearning Course Production

Just a quick note here about the tools below. There's a bit of a learning curve with developing eLearning training programs.  Beyond the "mechanics" and "buttonology" of learning the software, there's also a bit of theory (adult learning theory, cognitive load theory, spaced repetition, and so forth) that go along with the use of these tools. To that end, I also listed a couple of books that might be of interest.

  • For hosting my eLearning productions, I'll use one of the following:

- If there's a requirement to track learners' progress: then you'll want a so-called SCORM-compliant Learning Management System (LMS) like Moodle or one of the quickie hosted sites, like Litmos.

- If you're a small business, information marketer or self-producing your own online courses, you might also want to take a look at some of the cool work Justin Ferriman has done with Learndash. It works as a plugin to your self-hosted WordPress site.

  •  Here are a couple of books that might be of interest:

- Efficiency In Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines To Manage Cognitive Load, by Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen, John Sweller.

- Design For How People Learn, Julie Dirksen.

- Screencasting & eLearning Wizardry, curated by yours truly.

Finally, these articles from Wistia are pretty good, too, for “quick and dirty” DIY setups:

Did I miss anything?

What would you add to the list?

Posted in best practices, Digital-Know-How | Comments Off on “Hey Mel. What’s your setup for making your training videos?”

24 Weeks-worth of Design Ideas For Your Next e-Learning Project

Articulate's David Anderson has been running these Weekly Challenges from the Articulate Storyline e-Learning community. In addition to it being a great forum of engagement, practice and performance support for e-Learning developers, the weekly challenge series has also produced a nice compilation of examples from which to brainstorm ideas.

As an instructional designer, I'm always looking for ways to make online training not boring. The compilation below is a great list to bookmark so you can easily find it and browse ideas for future designs.

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[Q&A] How to make complex shape animations with Camtasia

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

One of the questions I want to highlight this week from our courses' member only Q&A group is this one on the right about replicating moderately complex animations in Camtasia (or ScreenFlow).  That is, beyond the conventional voiceover screencasts that we see a lot on YouTube.

The quick answer is yes.  You can do much of this in any of the "Big 3" screencasting software/editors.

The longer answer:  Here's the gist of it in the video below.


A word about third-party plugins for custom text and video animations

I'm admittedly not aware of any third party vendors that support special effects plugins for Camtasia or ScreenFlow -- at least not in the way that, say, Noise Industries' FXFactory installs itself into, say, Final Cut Pro, Motion or Premiere.   Having something like that available would be a HUGE assist in juicing-up the visual quality of your screencasting projects.

I put the question to the Techsmithies (Camtasia) and the Telestream folks (ScreenFlow) and I'll report back here with their response.   But, I can say that there are a host of third-party suppliers of pre-keyed video and motion graphics clips that provide their media as importable media clips.  A couple you might want to check out include:  Flowtility and Marketing Motion Graphics.

If you have some favorite third-party media vendors, please share them in the comments below.

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What display resolution should you use for screencasting?

[Q&A] "What display resolution should I set before I record my screencast?"

(Best viewed in HD. Click the settings icon in the player.)

image - question screenshot

(click to enlarge)

Question:  "...I am kind of stuck on the resolution issues.  Screenflow uses by default the whole screen.  I need to record Outlook instructions so I maximize outlook to full screen. In my case a 27 inch iMac.  Do I need to switch the resolution of my Mac screen to 1280 x 720 (can be done in preferences).  Or do I just leave it as is and set the canvas size in Screenflow? Or is it something totally different...?"

Answer:  So the question above came up in the members only Q&A forum that accompanies our courses.  The long answer is that there are several ways you can go about accomplishing a final production at 1280 x 720.  But, the short answer is:

1.  Set your screen to 1280 x 720 (or as close to it as possible… some displays won't have exactly 1280 x 720 as an option, so you might have to choose 1280 x 800, for example).

2. Maximize your subject software (Outlook in your case) so it fills the display.

3. Then, start your screencast recording at full screen. (I actually also prefer to record at full screen whether using ScreenFlow or Camtasia.)

That's basically it on the recording side.  After you stop the recording and are ready to begin the editing, then:

1. Set your canvas to (exactly) 1280 x 720.

2. Shift-click any CORNER of your video to scale it up proportionally so as to fit the entire canvas.

I included a video above to show what I mean.

Posted in Courses, How to, Q&A | Tagged | 1 Comment

Can you do green screen effects in screencasts?

November 24, 2013

Yes, you can.

This video is an abbreviated module from one of the lectures in our Udemy course offerings.  For a limited time, I opened up the unabridged version of it as a free preview in the course page of the Camtasia Studio course.  No need to register or sign up for any newsletters, just click and watch.  (Tip:  You can do the same thing in ScreenFlow for Mac and Camtasia for Mac.)

Posted in Camtasia, Courses, Digital-Know-How | Tagged , | 1 Comment