I have been forced to eat my words. I have been working with screen display software in worship for about 6 or 7 years. I started with Microsoft PowerPoint. My first venture into software that has been created for worship services was with Media Shout v2.5. I loved it. Still do. Compare it to PowerPoint, it’s night and day. It was my first venture into the world of dual screen (one screen is a control screen, the other is the projector). I could work with the show and all of the cues while running a video clip on the screen or showing song slides. I could fire a song, scripture, graphic, text, or video clip at anytime without having it in my cue list.
Then came Media Shout v3.0. These poor developers were being nagged so badly by multimedia directors that they released a product that really wasn’t ready for release. Jittery video, S l o w transitions, and crashes were reported from the beginning. Yet I stood by the product because, frankly, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
Everybody I talked to thought I was crazy for not using this new EasyWorship. They claimed it was “user-friendly,” which to me translated to “limited functionality.” I refused to even try to mess with the program because I was so convinced I had the superior product. Don’t get me wrong, Media Shout still has some advantages over EasyWorship, such as the ability to make text slides on the fly (you could literally make sermon notes and fire them as it was being preached).
Here recently, as I have begun to take on the role of Worship Elder in my church, I wanted my first task to be getting our presentation system in order. It had been upstairs in a room with a window overlooking the sanctuary with the television production equipment. At the time it was set up, this was a great idea. Now that we are putting everything that has to do with the worship service under one department, having the presentation computer, lighting guy, and sound guy together makes more sense. With this arrangement everything is much better timed and the guy running the slides isn’t as easily distracted as he would be by being in another room.
So, Micah, our soundman, and a fellow geek, had a nice rack-mount server he wanted to give to this new setup. It’s not a toy, mind you. This is a dual-processor Intel Xeon 2.8 ghz hyperthreading machine with almost a terabyte (that’s 1,000 GB) of hard drive space, a 256MB ATI graphics card, and 1GB of ram running a fresh install of Windows XP Professional. (all Tim Allen fans are grunting).
I installed Media Shout 3.0 on it, and it jittered the live video feed as it overlayed the songs. I installed EasyWorship, enabled it’s DirectX plugin, and BAMO – it worked like a charm. In fact, don’t tell anyone, but, I’m starting to actually LIKE it!
The one thing it does that I love the most is the Logo button. The logo button doesn’t just bring up a logo. It COVERS whats selected to be on screen. I can change stuff, cue up videos, or do anything else I’d like and it’s completely hidden from the congregation by the logo. It’s really nice. As I mentioned before, through a nice analog-firewire converter box, It handles firewire video feeds NICELY.
There are still some things I don’t like about it, and maybe someone who knows the software more than me can help me around these things:
- I can’t create text slides on the fly, and I have to rely on PowerPoint a LOT to import such things.
- I do a lot of graphics in Photoshop, and it doesn’t use PSD files – meaning I have to convert them to JPEGs.
- Not only this, but I have to import the picture using the images thingy, then I have to tell the program to add it to the selection of backgrounds. I can’t simply select ANY picture from the hard drive and use it immediately as a background. (I actually HATE that)
If you’re looking for a presentation system, or have some questions about this technology, get in touch with me. My contact information is on my Plaxo card link in my sidebar.