Recently I met up with the guys from MediaShout at a Youth Specialties conference. They were kind enough to pass along a version of their new release for my review.
Like everything, I find that this version has its strengths and weaknesses. If you are strictly looking for easy to use out of the box – no instructions necessary – this might not be the option for you. However, if you are looking for flexibility, customization and the ability to easily integrate with Adobe and other similar products – MediaShout is likely to make you very happy.
In exchange for complete ease of use, MediaShout offers a lot of flexibility and creativity for the end user. The great thing about MediaShout as well as the other worship presentation software companies is that you can download a trial version for no cost and see for yourself. Regardless of which presentation software you are considering I highly recommend downloading the free trial version. There is no better way to evaluate software than to give it a test drive yourself!
Since MediaShout was touting this at the YS conference, I decided to give it the ultimate test. I brought it home, gave it to my slightly less than technical savvy youth pastor and said, “Here, use this”. He went home, and successfully installed it. Then he was stuck. He called me looking for help.
We met up, I spent about an hour going over the software with him and got him going. Now, it’s only fair to say that I didn’t even bother reading the tutorials. I simply opened the software and got him running on it. The summary – technically challenged people might need some help, technical savvy people will be just fine.
Once I walked my youth pastor through the program he did well with it. They were not using the more technically advanced features while testing it, but they did see the improvement over their old system (PowerPoint). As a matter of fact, after two weeks with the software he couldn’t imagine life without it. He keeps commenting how much easier his life is than it used to be. He especially enjoys downloading lyrics directly from CCLI without having to re-type each song. This alone has spread up his productivity.
Another one of the great things about MediaShout is how customizable the view is. You can move your various panels around, turn off the ones you don’t use, and keep your operating space clean. As I alluded to earlier, MediaShout also works well with Adobe files such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash. This is real nice if you have a creative team working in these file formats – it makes for one less thing to convert.
I also like that when you open MediaShout, a step by step tutorial on how to use it loads. Now, in the case of my youth pastor, he couldn’t figure out how to navigate the slides to read it – but I believe that’s an extreme case.
For those of you with volunteers, you can set up your script just like you will do it in worship. Then, all your operator has to do is hit the SPACE bar to go to the next slide. Nice and easy.
If you are not using the space bar to advance, but are jumping slide to slide, I think the PLAY buttons are too small – however, a quick double click on the slide itself will immediately play it to the screens. MediaShout has given you several ways to get something on the screen, so each user can figure out what works best for them. This is another example of the customization available to the end user.
I love that they have a nice preview and program monitor built in to the operator windows. Like the other windows, these can be resized or turned off it you don’t want them. I found them very useful in setting up a show and knowing what was going on at a glance. They are especially useful when you are sitting in your office preparing the slides for the next service. You can see exactly what is going to be on the projector – without running the projector. Nice.
Of course, version 4 adds the Stage Display confidence monitor option. This allows you to send text only preview to one output (along with a next verse clue) while sending the pretty stuff to the main screens. Worship leaders around the world will do a little joyful sound when they utilize this feature. MediaShout is advertising a partnership on their website that converts USB to DVI to drive this third screen.
For $149 (or $99 when bundled with your MediaShout purchase), MediaShout offers a DVD training companion. This DVD goes through the entire program helping you learn the ins and outs of making it do exactly what you need it to do. MediaShout did not include a copy of the DVD with my review software, but it’s worthy to note that it’s available.
Overall, MediaShout is a stable program that has been around for a long time. They have a very loyal following and the company has a reputation of standing behind the product. If you are looking to make the leap to worship presentation software, or just wondering what else is out there, visit www.mediashout.com and download the trial software and decide for yourself!