BB Flashback Pro 4 review

BB Flashback Pro 4

Creating demos to show how to use software or to solve particular system problems requires a mix of technical and performance skills. BB Flashback Pro can't give you either of these, but it can handle the mechanics of recording a screen movie, while you concentrate on the information you want to get across. See all software reviews.

Screen recorders make a video of everything you do on screen, so the viewer sees the mouse movements and clicks that you make and any text that's typed from the keyboard. See all video software reviews.

You can also add a narration, explaining what you're doing as you work. BB Flashback Pro can also inset a video, taken with a webcam or video camera.

The software is divided into two parts: a recording module and the player/editor. The small recording window enables selection of source – screen, microphone or webcam in any combination – and the area of the screen you want to record, while the player is a reasonably sophisticated video editor.

During recording, the program helpfully highlights the position of the mouse pointer with a translucent yellow circle and can record a narrated soundtrack, as well as on-screen actions, even on a fairly modestly specified Windows PC. There's currently no Mac version of the software.

If you choose, you can have the software record a webcam video of you at the same time as the screen video, so you can appear as a virtual instructor in a picture-in-picture inset.

Once recorded, the BB Flashback Pro Player shows typical video editing tools, with a timeline of the frames, a soundtrack and a separate line for objects. These objects are mainly speech bubbles, arrows and boxes for annotation.

The program has a good range and it's easy to add text in a variety of sizes and styles, if you prefer to have your viewers read instructions rather than hear a narration.

The software includes multi-track audio editing, so you can run, for example, a narration track and background music simultaneously. It also includes microphone noise-reduction software, though its use needs some practice to avoid artefacts affecting voice quality.

BB Flashback Pro 4's main rival is TechSmith's Camtasia, and there's one ease-of-use feature which this program can't match: SmartFocus.

In Camtasia, when you rest your mouse pointer at a particular point on screen, the software zooms in on that area, so you get a close up of the button or selector you're working with. You can zoom and pan in BB Flashback Pro, but only manually, during editing.

BB Flashback Pro can output to a wide range of video formats and containers, including Adobe Flash, Microsoft WMV, Apple QuickTime and even standalone Microsoft .exe files. There's no pre-defined formatting for Android phones.

There's a lot of support for uploading though, with direct access to YouTube, blip.tv, Coggno eLearning, Revver and Viddler.

The maximum framerate of BB Flashback Pro videos is a healthy 30 fps, and you can reduce this to put less stress on system resources – a simple screen recording needs nowhere near this framerate. The software can record at screen resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 pixels.

BB Flashback Pro 4: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • 1 GHz processor
  • 512 MB RAM (2 GB for large FBR files)
  • 778 MB drive space
  • 800 x 600-pixel display
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • 1 GHz processor
  • 512 MB RAM (2 GB for large FBR files)
  • 778 MB drive space
  • 800 x 600-pixel display

OUR VERDICT

BB Flashback Pro is a well-designed screen recorder, which goes a long way to helping with all kinds of on-screen tutorials and simple videos. While it lacks some of the ease-of-use features of its main rival, it's also around 25 percent cheaper. A £60 standard version of the software is offered for people with less exacting needs.

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