In the ever-expanding and ever-changing world of worship presentation software it is imperative that our media ministries remain up to date regarding current software applications and upgrades if we are going be successful at choosing the solution best suited for our unique ministry, media team, budget and worship flow. For a growing number of ministries (and ministry events) Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter is the application of choice, and for good reason. I’ve had the opportunity to test drive ProPresenter 3.2 for the past few months and the short story is “very impressive”.
ProPresenter is a powerful Macintosh-only lyric and graphic presentation system designed specifically for ministry and has what I think is a very elegant, easy-to-use (i.e. volunteer friendly) interface. Pricing is $399 for a single user license which allows you to install a copy on multiple machines, but run it on one machine at a time or $799 for a site license which allows you to run it in multiple environments simultaneously on one campus. Renewed Vision recommends an iMac (Intel or PowerPC G5), MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac Pro, or PowerMac G5 running Macintosh OS 10.4 or higher with 1GB of RAM and, of course, dual display capabilities. (buyer beware, Mac Mini’s do NOT have dual display capabilities). A video card with a programmable GPU (core-image-capable graphics card) is also recommended (all Intel Macs). Check out www.RenwedVision.com for more details on system requirements and suggested settings and configurations.
With multi-format display capabilities ProPresenter can output nearly any resolutuion you throw at it which also enables the inclusion of both SD (standard definition, 4:3) and HD (high definition, 16:9) media in your presentations. The best way to summarize its file format capabilities is to simply say, if Quicktime Player can play it, ProPresenter can present it. I was also impressed with the programs stability and the smoothness of its transitions especially when cross-dissolving High-Definition video backgrounds behind text.
Unlike some other presentation programs ProPresenter allows for seamless transitioning of video/motion backgrounds behind the same text slide or song. In other words, motion backgrounds are not assigned (locked) to individual slides or lyrics but can be dynamically changed at any time which I found to be very “freeing”.
Another unique approach is the distinction between foreground videos and background videos. Foreground video clips are non-looping video clips which may contain sound but do not permit text overlay. Typically foreground videos would be used for playback of sermon introduction videos, in-house productions and/or any other type of stand-alone video clip. ProPresenter incorporates a feature which allows video to be displayed in its correct aspect ratio so last minute additions of 4:3 video play properly and do not get stretched if shown on a 16:9 display. (do YOU want to be the one responsible for making on-screen women look “wide”!!) Background video clips are designed for text-overlay, do not contain sound and are most commonly used for song lyric and scripture backgrounds.
And speaking of scripture, with the release of ProPresenter 3.2 a very capable scripture look-up feature has been added allowing users to quickly search for a single verse or a range of verses. KJV, ASV, Darby Translation and Young’s Literal Translation are available at no cost with a number of other Bibles available via Renewed Visions web store for $15 each. Although I would have liked to have seen ProPresenter come with a larger selection of complimentary Bibles (NIV, New Living Translation, The Message, etc.) the nominal $15 purchase price is far from a deal-breaker and simply covers the licensing fee paid to the copyright holders of these versions.
A very nice touch is how ProPresenter can be running simultaneously with Apple’s Keynote allowing for quick and seamless switching back and forth between the two applications without disrupting the program screen. Very cool. ProPresenter also works well with PowerPoint although there are specific settings within PowerPoint which need to be selected in order for the two programs to “get along” (it’s a “Microsoft thing” NOT a “ProPresenter thing”). ProPresenter does not import Keynote and PowerPoint presentations directly but in light of its capabilities of running simultaneously with either program (as just described) there really isn’t a need for an “import feature”. Of course, you could simply output your Keynote and PowerPoint slides as individual .jpg images (from within those programs) and import those images into ProPresenter if you do not need or want the flexibility of running simultaneous applications.
Another excellent feature added with version 3.2 is DVD playback which allows for playback of preprogrammed “in” and “out” points direct from DVD. Nice touch. A built-in countdown timer is a unique feature which provides substantially greater flexibility than playing back prerecorded countdowns. ProPresenter’s quick announcement feature doubles as a very effective nursery callout independently of the currently-displayed slide. (Nothing to whine about here!)
ProPresenter’s ability to make global text formatting changes (font, size, color, shadow, etc.) is awesome (big time/click saver) and so is its ability to edit any text within any slide (right-click) without leaving the Presenter mode. Importing text or song lyrics directly from the clipboard is also a boon. Spell checking comes standard so the odds of leading your congregation in “Amasing love how can it be…” are slim to none. And the 56 high-quality video clips/loops (including 8 HD clips) bundled with ProPresenter are outstanding (not simply marginally-helpful “token” media). Thankfully Renewed Vision wisely chose NOT to include dozens of fancy transition effects (flips, spins, swirls, fly-in etc.) eliminating the possibility of “effects abuse” by those among us who don’t know better (you KNOW who you are…or not).
Also unique to ProPresenter is its ability to create “pre-sequenced presentations” incorporating text/lyrics, music and backgrounds resulting in a perfectly timed sequence of slides. The program records your presentation timing as you listen to the music track while adding transition points “on the fly” with the ability to fine tune those transition points after the fact just in case your timing was off a bit during recording. This is ideal for environments that have no band, such as a small church, a youth program, or traveling ministry. This feature, called “Song Automation”, allows ProPresenter to run the whole show automatically (audio, video, and lyrics) – it barely even requires an operator! In addition, you may use the audio features to create entire Foley libraries which are ideal for theater or kids environments when you want the ability to quickly trigger any sound effect on-the-fly. Sweet.
There is a lot to like about ProPresenter and rest assured this article left several other features unmentioned. Did I mention it is rock-solid stable? Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter is a very compelling application well worth considering and would fit nicely into almost any ministry media presentation workflow for the purpose of integrating high-quality, seamless, text, lyrics, audio, graphics and video into your worship service or “live” event.