Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5. Universal.
Trial: Feature-limited (watermarking, limited functions).
About a year I reviewed Snapz Pro, a screen capture utility, and was critical of its inability to capture full screens such as those used by games. Now I find myself with a different utility, Séquence. My requirement is still the same, that a system utility should do all that the built-in application does, plus some enhancements. How does Séquence fare? Let’s find out.
On the surface, Séquence appears to be a good substitute for the built-in Command-Shift-3 or Command-Shift-4 keyboard combos, or even Grab. Press the hotkey and Séquence appears overlaid on top of the screen. Somewhat like Grab, you get the screen to look the way you want before the actual capture happens. Choose between full screen or selection, then click the scissor in the Séquence floating window to capture. Command-N is the keyboard shortcut to capture.
When invoked, Séquence floats above the current screen. Make your selection, then capture.
As expected, Séquence does more than just capture screens. You can doodle on top of the screen before capturing it. You can change the size and color of the brush, erase what is already drawn, or clear everything—there is not much else to do. Support for balloons and typed text would be more useful. By selecting the film strip icon, you switch to movie recording mode. The movie can include sound from the Mac microphone and video from a camera, all overlaid atop whatever is being displayed on the Mac screen. There are many choices for where to save the pictures or movies. The Pictures and Movies folders are to be expected, but you can also save straight to MobileMe or FTP sites. Strangely, you cannot save directly to the Desktop unless you select the Save As option, which prompts you to specify a location each time a picture or movie is made.
You can draw on top of the screen before capturing it.
As I used Séquence more, many design problems surfaced. For some reason, the hotkeys to invoke Séquence can only be made from the function keys with some modifier keys. This means the transition from the built-in tool to Séquence is not transparent, as you have to learn some different key combo. Naturally, I tried to assign Command-Shift-F3, but nothing happened. I had to go into Preferences to disable the default action assigned to F3 (mute volume), then Séquence’s newly assigned key combo worked. I like things the way I have them, so in the end I used Command-F11 instead, but then I came across a limitation. Every time you log in, the key combo does not work until you’ve launched the Séquence application. A minor issue, but again it makes the experience less pleasant.
In my experience writing reviews for ATPM, I often need to capture an application’s window, not an entire screen. With Command-Shift-4 followed by spacebar, I can precisely capture a window without worrying about removal of unwanted background. If I happen to have a memory lapse and cannot remember the sequence, Grab can walk me through the steps. With Séquence, you can only do full screen or a portion of it. There are two ways to capture a portion of the screen, but either way you have to make adjustment manually. You don’t just point to a window and make a clean capture of it. It is possible to adjust Séquence’s marquee, but why is there not an option to do so? In an odd twist, if you look up “window” in Séquence’s help file, you are referred to Grab to capture window.
There is no way to cleanly capture a window.
Séquence does not capture full screen that well either. As long as your full screen is not on its own screen, like many games, Séquence captures fine. On the Séquence Web page, someone wrote that Séquence was useful in capturing screens from the game Call of Duty, so I decided to give it a try with a demo of the game. Once in the game, I could not bring Séquence to overlay the game screen. Thinking perhaps that it was running anyway, I blindly pressed Command-N, but in the end no file was generated. I was able to capture a movie of the game, but the result was nothing to drool over. I had to do so by recording before the game is launched, which meant some post production work would be needed. Like many games, Call of Duty’s resolution is lower than my desktop’s. It seems that Séquence did not detect the change, and a lousy movie was made.
Instead of really capturing the game screen, Séquence included some other junk in the final product.
Séquence is supposed to make the built-in way to capture screens look unattractive. Séquence can add doodles and capture movies, and so on. However, it does not support two very basic needs of screen capturing—window and non-Desktop full screen. Unless you absolutely have to use Séquence’s movie feature or the limited doodling, I suggest you stay with Grab and its cousins.