BoinxTV Home: Professional Broadcasting Just Got Affordable

If there’s a reason we love our Macs so much, it’s because there literally is an app for almost anything. If your ambitions lie in  professional looking video broadcasting – well, that dream just became affordable.

With BoinxTV Home you can go far beyond the capabilities of iMovie and create stunning videos for private or business use, if you are willing to spend some time getting to know the app.

Today we’ll take a look at its strengths and weaknesses. Read on after the jump…

Going for Home or Going for Pro?

If you are interested in video production, you might have heard of BoinxTV, the (much) bigger brother of the app we are reviewing today. Seeing that has price tag of about $500 with a range of features that don’t necessarily attract but rather discourage main stream consumers, Boinx Software released BoinxTV Home on the Mac App Store.

It is geared towards tech savvy enthusiasts who want more from their video production than iMovie has to offer, but would rather not go broke in the process.

With the ability to easily add special effects to videos while recording, share videos instantly on social networks like YouTube and use professional grade effects like “green screen”, BoinxTV Home helps ambitious video podcasters or even small business or educational facilities to realize videos that look as if they’ve been produced by a pro – for a far lower price tag.

As it is, the consumer level application limits you to “just” one camera, a maximum of 15 layers and a maximum resolution of 960×540 pixels. In the light of affordable HD-capable cameras – HD recording nowadays comes with many cheap point-and-shoots – it’s especially the last restriction that might cause some brows to go up, but for $49.99 it’s a compromise worth considering.

Getting Started With BoinxTV Home

As mentioned in the introduction, BoinxTV offers more than iMovie, which comes preinstalled on every new Mac, but it also requires you to invest some time into getting know the full extent of its capabilities.

To help you with that, Boinx Software has included a video introduction that plays right after the installation process and showcases – very generally – what it can do.

Start with the tutorial played after setup

Start with the tutorial played after setup

When creating a new video, you have the choice of starting with a blank theme or with one of the various templates that come bundled with the app. I’d recommend to give those templates a try, if only to understand the underlying principles of BoinxTV Home.

Chose from a template or start with a blank file

Chose from a template or start with a blank file

For those who’d like to read up on the finer points of using the app – sorry to disappoint. A help manual is included, but it consists of short video tutorials. While that might prove helpful in certain areas, I myself prefer written guides which are searchable for keywords and can be printed (at least in parts) if desired.

The help consists of video tutorials, no written documentation

The help consists of video tutorials, no written documentation

The Composition Window

Contrary to the well known iMovie, BoinxTV Home does not operate in the same linear fashion – because its focus is not primarily on taking video footage that you’ve shot and edit it. With BoinxTV, you are enabled to record and edit live – all at the same time.

The composition window of BoinxTV Home

The composition window of BoinxTV Home

As you can see, you can prepare your recording in many ways. In the middle of the window you see layers – which are pretty much “actions” you can take during your recording. The “placer” (or “Single Video” in this screenshot) is where you are about to appear, either recorded through your Mac’s iSight camera or through a connected separate camera.

In order to see how a layer will look in the final video, turn on the LIVE button at the right of the individual layers and see the preview of the layer on the left and the full composition including other live layers on the right.

If you’ve ever worked with Photoshop or with Pixelmator, you will know that layers which are on top cover what is beneath them. It’s the same principle here; with clever composition from the layers panel, you can have a newsticker permanently visible while recording your speaker at the same time, for example.

Here's a sample clip with a multitude of layers

Here's a sample clip with a multitude of layers

It might take a couple of minutes to really understand the layout of the application, but it’s time well spent.

Editing an Effect

Once you’ve decided on an effect to use – newsticker, interview, presenter etc – you can drag it to the layers section in the middle of the window and then adjust the settings of the effect in the left pane.

Editing options for a layer

Editing options for a layer

There are too many options to cover, but I’ve had a lot of fun with the weather action – where you can actually set the weather for different areas of your country – and with the interview action – the sort you might know best from news channels like CNN where an anchor talks to a photo of a reporter connected via phone.

Applying effects to the camera recording

Applying effects to the camera recording

But you are not only able to edit the effects you can insert into your video – you can define the style of the recording itself. The available options range from black-and-white recording to amusing effects you might know from Photo Booth.

Practical Use Examples

Apart from having a ton of fun with the app, here are some practical examples to put it to good use. First of all, with the included “Screencast Intro” effect, it’s possible for us mere mortals to have a professional looking introduction to our video podcasts – without knowing the slightest bit about animation.

Animated intro clip with few clicks

Animated intro clip with few clicks

The iPhone/iPad Demo effect enables app developers to create entertaining and captivating product demonstrations that will stand apart from usual point-and-click videos.

Animated content on an iPhone or iPad mockup

Animated content on an iPhone or iPad mockup

What I found most intriguing were the capabilities of BoinxTV to capture parts of my iMac’s screen and allow me to be shown in in a smaller window through the PIP (picture in picture) function. That will appeal to people doing presentations or video tutorials; you can guide your audience through what’s going on on your screen while keeping contact with them through the smaller window.

In all fairness it has to be said that a dedicated screen recording application performs better here, but if you have BoinxTV, it will do a decent enough job.

Exporting and Sharing

As I said before, BoinxTV Home is geared towards live recording. That means, you set up everything, hit the record button and perform away. Once you hit stop, you’ll be faced with an export dialog, offering you a multitude of options.

Many export options for your video

Many export options for your video

While you can export to professional video editing applications like Final Cut, it might be safe to assume that you are using BoinxTV Home as your only recording and editing suite. In that case, what I miss most is the ability to actually edit my recordings – right there, in the same app.

But as it is, you can export to the desired format and even share right away via YouTube, but you can’t go back and cut out a part of your recording or insert something else.

What if you blew that one sentence in the middle of a recording? Do you have to do the whole thing again? What if you remember that one image that should’ve been in the podcast but which you forgot to show? There’s no way to include it once you’re done recording.

While the “on-the-fly” editing (meaning the capability of turning layers = actions on and off while you record) is promoted as one of the strong points of BoinxTV Home – and it’s amazing, no doubt about that – I think the lack of traditional editing is limiting and not liberating.

Because, if you don’t get it right the first time, you really are in for take after take. It might make you feel more like on a set of a movie, though.

Verdict

Whether or not BoinxTV Home is a good solution for you depends entirely on your personal needs. If you are not satisfied with the options that iMovie offers in terms of effects and live recording, Boinx Software might just have what you need. The wealth of effects and the multitude of settings included with them give you a lot of freedom to customize your videos.

On the other hand, there are some limits to its editing capability which might cause frustration for those who tend to record pretty much everything and then start cutting together the pieces that make most sense or turned out best. For those of you, it might be better to stay with iMovie or to take a look at Final Cut, its bigger brother.

Overall, BoinxTV Home left a very good impression with me in terms of performance (27″ 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM) and usability, even though I would have preferred a written documentation. As it was, the video tutorials helped to get to know the complex app quite fast and dive in with some recording of my own.


Summary

BoinxTV Home is the inexpensive video production suite for private and small business video projects. It offers a magnitude of effects and professional effects which allow it to surpass iMovie by far, but falls short when it comes to editing features after recording.

8
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