Hopefully you were inspired by yesterday’s post to either create a fantastic logo/default screen for your media system, or have it on your “to do” list for the very near future.
Today’s tip is a little more practical and doesn’t require any design skill to accomplish. It’s so unbelievably simple that you may think I’m joking when I say that the second most important thing you can do right now to improve your church media system is:
Read the documentation for your presentation software.
Seriously. It’s amazing how much computational power we have at our fingertips that is underutilized. The reason we’re seeing this booming tablet device (iPad, XOOM, Galaxy Tab, etc) industry pop up is because the overwhelming majority of people had for years and years been buying powerhouse computers at a premium to accomplish tasks that required only a fraction of their CPU and GPU. Tasks such as surfing the web, listening to music, and occasionally typing a letter. People are finally wising up and spending much less to accomplish the same tasks in a more exciting package. Win.
The same is true when it comes to your church presentation software. Chances are pretty good that it can do more than display scriptures and import JPEGs. Even if you’re using PowerPoint (the Comic Sans of the church media/presentation world) you can do a lot more than you realize.
Reading the manual may be boring and may not be your idea of a great read, but I can assure you that what you’ll learn will go a long way toward improving how efficiently and effectively your church media department is run. Most of our frustrations with software and computers, in my humble opinion, has much more to do with our own ignorance than we’d like to admit. Knowledge, the cliche goes, is power.
This is another one of those issues that deserves its own post, but to simplify things I’m going to say that there are 3, maybe 4 pieces of presentation software out there today that are really worth their salt. Numero uno for me is Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter 4 (screenshot below), which had been Mac exclusive for the first three versions but is now also available for PC. I’ll do a full review some day soon, but for now I’ll just say that it’s the most versatile software out there, by a long shot, and when coupled with a Mac really makes running media a joy.
Whichever software you choose, there are bound to be tons of really interesting features that you can use that will kick your media up a notch. Since I’m using ProPresenter, I’ll give you an example from my church with that software specifically.
We don’t have a video ministry (yet), so we rely heavily on what I talked about yesterday, a great default screen. We were previously using Easy Worship on a PC before switching to Mac, and my frustration was that to keep the default looking great I either had to create a custom loop with our branding in After Effects (time and labor intensive, not to mention that most churches don’t have access to this software) or use a static image.
With ProPresenter I can use a new feature they introduced called Props to place a file with transparency as a layer over top of a motion loop. There are a ton of ways to get really creative with this. We use two props mainly, a simple white logo that we place over a dark motion loop, and a full screen graphic with the logo area cut out that allows the motion loop to barely peek through. It’s a beautiful effect, and super easy to accomplish using this powerful feature.
Without reading the manual (or browsing the online forums…manuals are so 2010) I would have never known how to pull of this simple trick that really makes our media come alive. So get to it! Dig out that manual and find out how to pull off something new and cool that will breath life into your media and add value to the investment you’ve already made in the software. Hit the forums and ask lots of questions! Utilize the great and thorough documentation that exists to answer the questions you’ve been afraid to ask!