IMAG screens can be a wonderful asset for worship and teaching, but we’ve seen so many congregations using them with poor results, we asked Phil Cooke, a television producer and media consultant in Hollywood to give us some guidelines.
Now that using video projectors and IMAG (image magnification) screens are all the rage in churches across the country, it’s time we put our foot down on some video abuse. Here are five important things to consider.
1) Never forget the reason for using video projection in the first place.
In today’s large congregations, the primary purpose of video screens is to help people see the service more clearly. As a result, it helps them experience the worship and teaching at a much more intimate level. That’s why nothing else matters nearly as much as clear vision. Helping them see facial expressions on worship leaders and the pastor, as well as seeing close up’s of illustrations, are the primary purpose of projection. As long as your priorities are in order here, chances are you’ll be fine.
2) Use them for lyrics, scriptures, and notes.
I suggest a clear, easy to read font, and make sure all graphics are readable from the back row. Many churches use their screens for song lyrics and scriptures, but they’re also brilliant for key points in a pastor’s message or for pictures than enhance the sermon. Anytime there is text or visuals that need to be emphasized, put it on the screen.
3) Be careful about notification.
Some churches use the screens to notify parents about rowdy children (and I’m all for taking care of rowdy children!). But in too many cases, I’ve see notifications become a distraction for the rest of the congregation. If you must use them to notify parents during the message, keep it subtle and discreet. The congregation isn’t stupid – especially nervous parents. They don’t need to be hit over the head – just gently alerted. I suggest a small notification at the bottom corner of the screen, and keep it simple. Publish a small note in the church bulletin to tell parents with children where to find the notification.
4) If you videotape your service for television, don’t put the switched program on the screens.
The congregation doesn’t need to see audience shots – they see the audience quite fine from where they are. They’re dying to see the speaker. I always recommend that the TV department only send the switched program feed to the screens during the music. But once the sermon starts, only use the close up camera on the big screen. Anything else is distracting. Save the fancy directing for your TV program. Any questions on this one? Refer to point #1 above.
5) Buy the best projector you can afford.
Today, we live in a high definition television world, and people expect to see high quality images. What’s the point in projecting a close up of the pastor, if the image is muddy? If you can possibly afford it, get the best projector you can find. The brilliance, clarity, and resolution of the image is critical. And don’t forget that the screen is just as important. Many a great image is ruined by a poor quality screen. The days of stringing up a bed sheet are over – get a screen that matches the quality of the projector for best results.
When it comes to this and other technology related issues, I always recommend that our clients do the following:
A) Get the best advice. Find a consultant, engineer, or producer that you trust and get their advice. As with most high-end technology, it can be expensive, so don’t make mistakes. Get the right advice from the beginning. Don’t know who to talk to? Find a church you admire who’s doing it right, and ask them.
B) Think quality. If we’re going to get the world’s attention, we need to compete on their level. We live in a high-tech world, and whenever possible, buy the best quality equipment you can afford.
C) Use reputable companies. Sure you can save money buying a projector from your brother in law’s cousin, but what happens when it needs service? Most systems today are highly sophisticated, so stick with proven brands for the best results.