In our new church effort in Lafayette, I set as a goal from very early on that we would attempt to do everything we could with excellence, and though we have had some hiccups with our children’s programming and with our music, we have been consistently high quality with our printed materials and with our video presentations thanks to some really great software.
On the printed front, we have been using Apple’s Pages for basic word processing and simple page design and Serif PagePlus 11 which is exponentially greater than anything else in its price range ($50 for features that easily surpass Microsoft Publisher and even rival PageMaker or Quark). However, that’s for another blog entry. On to what we do for video now and what our next steps are.
Video Presentation Hardware
- 15″ MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / 1GB RAM
- Draper Traveller portable projection screen with High Contrast Gray screen material.
- DLP Projector (I don’t remember the specs right now).
ProPresenter is the best program we have found to display lyrics on the screen. It’s very easy to learn with only a few quirks that take getting used to. Together with the Mac, it is unbeatable in terms of visual quality of the text even with full motion high resolution video images in the background. On top of that, the programmers are very responsive to requests for improvements, and the software was designed from the ground up to meet the needs of touring worship bands like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder.
Keynote is the hands down winner in presentation software that understands the line between attention-getting and cheesy. Transitions, fades, and slide builds are unmatched in PowerPoint because Keynote does what it does with subtlety. It’s also much easier to work with once you learn a couple of its quirks.
Our current setup has us running ProPresenter and Keynote simultaneously on the MacBook Pro. ProPresenter takes over the projector screen and turns it black while waiting for us to begin. Navigation is done on the laptop screen, but lyrics and backgrounds are sent to the secondary display.
Just before my message, we hit F1 in ProPresenter to black out the projection screen, switch to Keynote without closing ProPresenter (the projection screen stays black during and after the switch), and hit “Play” on my sermon Keynote file. Keynote takes over the projection screen with my slides and also displays a “Presenter View” on the laptop screen. We turn the laptop to face me, so I can see my current slide and my next slide without ever needing to look over my shoulder.
Now that we are meeting in the Long Center (a larger venue), we want to make some changes to our setup so we stay on the excellent side of things.
- Replace our screen with a larger rear projection screen. We’re looking at the Draper Cinefold and Draper Ultimate series of screens for this.
- Consider upgrading our projector depending on its performance with the new screen. Most likely, we will just need to buy a new bulb.
- Purchase a new Mac to put in the sound booth. It needs to have dual external monitor capability, and the only Macs to have that now are Mac Pro computers or Psystar Open Computer Macintosh clones.
- Split the monitor signal from each monitor out to drive four displays (1). The monitor in the sound booth, (2). the projector on stage, (3) One monitor in front row pointing to stage duplicating what’s on the projector screen. (4) One monitor in front row pointing to the stage duplicating what’s on the screen in the sound booth. That way, the stage-facing monitors will show what’s on the screen and also show the “Presenter View” that Keynote can display.
- Use VGA cables or a VGA over CAT5e system to get video signal to the stage from the booth.
If anyone is reading this post thinking that technology will save your bad presentations, think again. Websites like http://presentationzen.com are a great resource to help you rethink the how and the why of your presentations. Technology can make your presentations more effective, but it isn’t guaranteed to do so.