When it comes to projection software for worship, we have come a long way baby! Mac computers have long been used to churn out videos and background graphics but for many of us, when it came time for assembly, management and projection, for way too long our digital assets had to be imported into a Windows-based PC. Now, however, it is common to see a Mac Book Pro sprawled out, driving A/V for worship.
For the record, when nobody else did, Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter offered the ability to assemble, manage and manipulate presentations on a Mac, and they’ve used that massive amount of trial and error and user feedback in the development of ProPresenter 4, which is absolutely spectacular, offering robust features and intuitiveness. I’d sum it up like this: they think like I do. Besides a Mac version, a PC edition is available, so even if you are not an all Mac organization, you can create, share, and present in a cross platform environment.
We all know what “church presentation software” does, so our next few moments together will not be used as “Presentation Software 101”. Nor will this be a ProPresenter 4 tutorial. I’m going to highlight a few really cool features that I think are particularly useful.
You may find an entirely different favorite set of cool tools when you visit the Renewed Vision web site, www.renewedvision.com, which is, in fact, the best I’ve seen for ministry presentation software. The site doesn’t just elegantly feature the application’s bells and whistles in immense detail, but it also offers free, quickly accessed tutorials. That brings me to this point.
When it comes to church A/V, there are two things that have remained the same. Volunteers still rule the church multimedia roost and the average church in America still has less than 500 members. Software like this must not only be easy to use, easily accessible “how-to’s” must be available for volunteers. ProPresenter does this without charge, online, and does it better than anybody I’ve seen.
I’m also proud to report, ProPresenter 4 does a mighty fine job providing professional production standards to ministries of all sizes, serving volunteers as well as seasoned production veterans. Now let’s cover some highlights.
This is a linear timeline feature, much like you’d see in a computer-based video editing program. Here, however, you can pull into the timeline, slides or other visuals so that you have automated, on-cue graphic cover for a song or narration, saving you from having to do this in a video editing program. I could see where this feature would be really useful whether the need is for graphics to go with a solo accompaniment track or as cover pictures for the student minister’s recorded voice over report about the recent mission trip.
This feature, similar to a Teleprompter, can display song lyrics to the praise team and band. There are several options of what can be shown, including timers, notes, messages for people on the stage, current slide, next slide, and countdown clocks. To accommodate a third monitor, you can use a Mac computer with two graphics cards or buy a third party device which is mentioned on the web site.
PowerPoint & Keynote Import
ProPresenter 4 has greatly streamlined the ability to import PowerPoint (PC) presentations. Plus, ProPresenter can trigger PowerPoint and Keynote to play presentations created in their respective applications. It no longer requires an export/import of PowerPoint slides as jpegs. Multiple PowerPoint presentations can be imported by a batch process and the presentations played natively; there’s even a feature to extract text from PowerPoint slides and pop the words into native ProPresenter 4 slides, a really nice conversion tool.
In using its visual layering scheme, the top layer in ProPresenter 4 is called props. This is where you can bug your ministry logo in the bottom right of the screen or display a nursery announcement at the bottom of the screen. Of course, there are 101 uses for this feature and the software lets you decide if the prop tracks to one slide, a segment of the service, the entire service, or displayed instantly.
Upon first glance, one’s reaction could be, “So what, templates (sigh).” But the ability to instantly configure any slide into a regularly used layout, within a second or two, is really nice and a huge time saver. It’s worth looking deeper into this feature.
You can sync to any central repository, whether it’s a local drive or a network so that changes made on one machine are available to all machines on the network. Nice. ProPresenter also allows for multiple libraries, which means the student ministry can have its own cache of song lyrics. Changes to them won’t affect the main worship service library.
The software has departed from a database-driven methodology to its current document-based structure which means you can save a Sunday worship service as a document and now just drag and drop songs or entire playlists to the desktop or wherever you choose to export them.
While most of us prefer to rip our DVD clips, the fact is, it’s not uncommon that someone shows up at the last minute with one to show. The DVD player inside the application makes it easy to set in and out points and even has a feature that keeps the disc spinning to avoid “dead air” while waiting for the DVD to spin-up.
This feature rocks. You can use your iPhone, iTouch or iPad to control key features. You can display all playlists, presentations, and slides through a Wi-Fi connection and see or control presentations from the stage or another remote location. The application can control any copy of ProPresenter available on the network, a “wow” feature for sure.
A single user license is available for $399 and a site license can be bought for $799. Check the web site for licensing details. We’ve only touched a tad of the features ProPresenter offers. I hope you’ll check out www.renewedvision.com to see a well done product web site; moreover, an outstanding ministry resource.