Mac Software Review: Screenium 1.0

Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Mac software review






There are about 7 to 8 screen-capture shareware titles for Macs that we are aware of. Ambrosia Software‘s Snapz Pro X is by bar more popular than any other screen-capture shareware title. But Snapz Pro X is not perfect. Ambrosia Software has not been able to fix Snapz Pro X’s incompatibility issue with Final Cut Pro for years.

How about Screenium? This Mac software title is developed by Synium Software, a developer of CleanApp, which we reviewed about 2 months ago. The latest software version of Screenium is still 1.0. And the price is only US20, more than one-third cheaper than Snapz Pro X. Usually, its price tells you what it does, right? Does that mean we cannot expect good performance on Screenium?

When you launch Screenium for the first time, you will probably see the settings under the Audio/Video tab. (See Screenshot 01.) This is where you make importance choices including ones for audio and video compressors.





Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 01
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 02
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 03






Let’s first go to Audio at the bottom. There are three input devices listed. If you want to include system audio (audio run by the system like the beep sound and iTunes music), you need to enable System Audio (Screenium). If you click on the check box, you will be prompted to enter a system administrative password. (See Screenshot 02.) Furthermore, there’s a button with up & down arrows next to Audio CD. If I click on it… I get to customize audio compression settings. (See Screenshot 03-4.) Looking at Screenshot 04, it looks like Screenium doesn’t let the user choose not to compress audio (to have uncompressed audio). Does that mean Final Cut Pro users have to re-compress the audio track? We will get to that later on. 





Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 04
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 05
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 06






Next, let’s work on video compression settings. From the drop-down menu to the right of Compression Mode, I need to choose Custom. (See Screenshot 05.) Then I get to choose a video compressor and a capture frame rate and a key frame rate. (See Screenshot 06.)

Let’s see what we have under the General tab. There are three check boxes at the top. (See Screenshot 07.) I recommend you to enable the very bottom check box that says Display Recording Area. If it’s enabled, the non-recording area will be dimmed out. In this way, the recording area will look as if it were highlighted. How about Jump To Library After Capturing? What does this option do? I’ll explain what it does later on. Furthermore, the General tab is where you can change hot keys. The default key combination for start capturing desktop activity is Option + Control + R. And the default key combination for stop capturing it is Option + Control + C.





Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 07
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 08
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 09






Okay. Let’s take a look at what we have under the Timer tab, next. This is where you can enable time recording. (See Screenshot 08.) For example, if I enable the check box at the bottom and set the count down number to 10, Screenium will count down numbers to 0 and then start capturing desktop movements after I press Option + Control + R and define the capture area. (See Screenshot 09.) You should not manually enter a number in the text box. If you want to change the count down number to a number other than 10, you need to use the arrow buttons.

By the way, how can I change the location where to save movie files? Look under the Library tab? (See Screenshot 10.) No. Then go to Preferences under Screenium? (See Screenshot 11.) Wrong again! Screenium Movie Library shown at the bottom of the window to the right indicates the location where raw movies are stored. What raw movies? I’ll get to that, too, later on.





Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 10
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 11
Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
Screenshot 12






Finally, if you are ready to start capturing desktop activity, you need to do one of the followings.





  • Press Option + Control + R (default).
  • Click on one of the top four buttons. (See Screenshot 12.)





  • If I want to capture the entire screen, then I just need to click on Fullscreen. If I rather want to define the capture area, then I need to click on Fixed Area at the top. And I’ll get to set the capture area. (See Screenshot 13.)





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 13
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 14
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 15






    Then? I need to press the Return key to confirm the capture area. Unless the count down timer is enabled, Screenium will start capturing desktop activity.

    By the way, during the time when Screenium captures desktop movements, the audio volume meter remains grayed out. (See Screenshot 14.) Does that mean we need to change the audio output device under System Preferences? (See Screenshot 15.) No. Although the volume meter is grayed out during the recording time, you will have audio in your screen-capture movie. In fact, the audio output device should be set to Screenium Audio under the Sound preference pane, or the audio track will not be embedded in the screen-capture movie.

    If you want to stop capturing desktop activity, you need to press Option + Control + C (default). If ‘Jump To Library After Capturing’ is enabled, you will find out that the tab is automatically set to Library so that you can locate the screen-capture movie that you have just recorded in the list. I’m going to select the screen-capture movie that I just recorded and click on the Export button at the bottom. (See Screenshot 16.) Now, you will see the QuickTime Movie Settings window. If you have an audio track, you need to enable the Sound check box. Then click on Settings. And you can choose not to compress audio for Final Cut Pro use. (See Screenshot 17.)





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 16
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 17
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 18






    Next, let’s click on Settings under Video. Then you will get to choose a video compressor, frame rate and a key frame rate once again. (See Screenshot 18.) Wait a second. What’s going on? Do we have to compress the same video twice? Well, yes and no. And we’ll get to that soon. For now, I’ll set the frame rate to 24 and key frame rate to 1, respectively. (See Screenshot 19.)





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 19
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 20
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 21






    As shown in Screenshot 20, if I open the final screen-capture movie with QuickTime, the Movie Inspector says the frame rate is 24. It sounds like Final Cut Pro can read it with no problem, right? Let’s see if that’s the case. I’m going to import the same screen-capture movie shown in Screenshot 20 to Final Cut Pro. If I check the format of this video clip, Final Cut Pro says the frame rate is 24. (See Screenshot 21.) Furthermore, if I drag and drop the video clip onto the Timeline window… Oh, great, Final Cut Pro reads both audio and video tracks without red lines. (See Screenshot 22.)





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 22
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 23
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 24






    So far, so good… Okay. Next, I want to see if Screenium supports the active screen for games. Not all screen-capture applications are able to record game play movies. Some of them only stick to the desktop movement per se, ignoring what the operating system is working on. As shown in Screenshot 23, I have the Mac version of Civilization IV. Let me use Screenium with a timer and then double-click on Civilization IV. Screenshot 24 shows that Screenium is able to capture the active screen and record the game play of Civilization IV.





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 25
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 26
    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 27






    Huh! It sounds like Screenium is the best screen capture application in the Mac software market. Or is it? Well… Not exactly… If I use QuickTime to play back a screen-capture video, I notice something disturbing in every one of them. You can tell that the Mouse pointer movement is sluggish in every screen-capture movie recorded with Screenium. It’s kind of a robotic movement where there is no smoothness. (Click here to watch a sample screen-capture video. Note that the final ‘Export’ video is re-compressed with Final Cut Pro.) In fact, it implies that the frame rate of this screen-capture movie is lower than 12. But we have made sure that the frame rate is 24 as shown in Screenshot 20, right?

    When you record desktop movement, Screenium will first store a raw video in the location designated under Preferences. Screenshot 25 shows all raw movies listed under the Library tab. You can open any of them with QuickTime. A problem is that the frame rate is a bit lower whether the video compressor is H.264 or Animation. Let me open 080826-183718.mov with QuickTime. The frame rate of this raw video is only 9.67. (See Screenshot 26.) Let me open the final video after re-compression (after re-compressing a raw video by pressing the Export button.). Now, the frame rate is 24. (See Screenshot 27.) But Screenium has only duplicated existing frames to make up this frame rate with help of QuickTime. So the Mouse pointer movement is as sluggish as before.





    Mac shareware Synium Software Screenium
    Screenshot 28






    There is another major problem with Screenium. As I noted earlier, Screenium will let you embed system audio in a screen-capture video. But you cannot change the output volume level while recording screen activity. You will have no control over the audio output volume meter. So even if you pressed any of the audio buttons on the keyboard (See Screenshot 28), the output volume would not change.






    Sample screen-capture video (Members only)

  • Click on the button to download Sample Movie 1VTC
    Compression: H.264 with no mouse click visualization enabled, File size: 64.4 MB
  • Click on the button to download Sample Movie 2VTC
    Compression: H.264 with mouse click visualization enabled, File size: 53.9 MB
  • Click on the button to download Sample Movie 3VTC
    Compression: H.264, running Civilization IV in the background, File size: 35.9 MB





  • In conclusion, Screenium is another screen-capture title for Macs that fails to capture more than 24 or equal to 24 frames per second. If you compress a desktop activity movie with H.264, such raw video will get a frame rate of 9, 12, 15 but never 24 when in fact you set the capture frame rate to 24. Exporting a raw screen-capture video will only duplicate existing frames to make up the frame rate you specify. The best that you can do is to compress a desktop activity movie with Animation, at first. And the movie will get a frame rate around 21, but never 24.

    Another problem with Screenium is that you cannot change the audio output level while recording desktop activity. Pressing any of the audio buttons on the keyboard will not let you disable, increase or reduce the system audio level.





  • Developer: Synium Software GmbH (http://www.synium.de/products/screenium/)
  • Developer’s location: Robert-Koch-Str. 50, 55129 Mainz, Germany
  • Latest version: Screenium 1.0 Beta 13 (Compatible with PPC, Intel Mac, Compatibility with Leopard)
  • System requirements: PowerPC G4 Mac with 1.25 GHz or better/Intel Mac
  • Prices: US$20.00 with free updates for life
  • MacHouse recommendation: The price speaks it all again for this screen-capture title. Screenium is not suitable for professional video tutorial creators. Screenium fails to capture more than or equal to 24 frames per second. Meanwhile, the price is quite affordable. So if you don’t care about the fact that the Mouse pointer movement becomes sluggish, Screenium may be the one that you want. Will we use it to create our video tutorials? It’s no offense to the software developer, but, nope.






    Screenium is a product of Synium Software.





    Click for Mac software product review
  • This entry was posted in Apple & Mac and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.