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Do's and Don'ts of Projecting Media

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  • Do's and Don'ts of Projecting Media

    I'm at a new church with a very contemporary format. When I got here I noticed that there were many mistakes and lags with the media staying up with the worship leader. They used very minimal backgrounds and nothing at all creative or interesting within the presentations. Almost a traditional approach to displaying media (they had the powerful tool of PP4 but just kinda used it like it was one of those glorified overhead projectors with the clear sheets from yesteryear). BUT for lyric format their idea was one or two line lyric-per-page a la Hillsong with 30-40 slides per tune (more difficult for the tech. to keep up and increased the odds of mistakes - oh, and the tech. didn't rehearse with the band and sometimes didn't know the songs...yeah, I know, but I've fixed that too and now they are at least familiar with the set and order). As Worship Pastor and head of production, I've moved towards more interactive, exciting ideas with backgrounds, fonts and stuff. Another thing I did was to stack more lyrics on a slide and decrease the number of slides to eliminate unprofessional mistakes (kind of) until they get more secure with following and changes, etc. So now we have 10 or 12 slides with the song sections (v, ch, br.) on there only once rather than the song laid out start to finish repeating everything (in my philosophy, it seems odd to put the chorus on there 4 times rather than just put it on there once and return to it). But this has caused a little bit of heartburn and the "why are we doing it this way" mentality. So my question is what are your takes and philosophies for presentation format and creation. Do you go by some rules of thumb or subscribe to a particular standard that others do elsewhere or do y'all just do what fits where you are.

    I'll be the first to say that I'd rather have fewer lyric lines per page for style and stuff but if the goal is to get people comfortably engaged in singing and the line being sung pops up midway through it, I'm gonna sacrifice style first.

    What say ye?

  • #2
    I like the idea of reducing slides. As far as 'going back' to a verse or chorus, I like that idea too- but depending on your crew, it might be easier to just hit 'next.

    As far as the interactive ideas, be mindful of having slides that are too 'busy'. The goal is to enable people to sing along and enhance what's going on with the song, not make a Pink Floyd style short film. It's like reverb- yeah, a little might be good, but not bat-cave.

    A good resource to look at would be a guy named Tufte. He is a famous data and presentation consultant. Granted his area of focus was more technical data presentations, he does have some great philosophies about the purpose of presentations and how they can be really ineffective when we try to get too creative. He coined the term 'chartjunk', where a slide is cluttered with so much animations and artwork that it no longer enhances the information but inhibits it. With powerful and comprehensive presentation software, it's real tempting to create 'slidejunk'.

    For lyrics, one of the main things I see is using fonts and colors for lyrics that aren't contrasting enough, or using a background with several different colors and they can run together with the lyrics. It might look crisp and brilliant on your HD display, but by the time it gets thrown 50 feet onto a dirty old screen, it isn't that crisp anymore.
    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


    • #3
      Regardless of whether we're using Powerpoint (when the subs run the visuals, they prefer Powerpoint, because that's what they use in their secular lives) or Mediashout, we use the same idea. Everything is in the presentation in the order it's going to be done. If we're singing a chorus 3 times, it will be in the presentation 3 times. That way the media tech only has to move forward through the service -- never backwards and never skipping around.

      Now we also have decided in advance what we're doing, and we stick with that plan. We don't make it a practice of singing the song differently than it has been rehearsed (I'll never say it doesn't happen -- and I mentioned it on another post) but that isn't the plan.

      Our praise team and musicians practice together on Wednesday night, and then again on Sunday morning before Sunday school. The media tech is there on Sunday morning for the rehearsal. During the Sunday am practice, the tech is looking for the times when what he is doing doesn't match what the folks on stage are doing. Sometimes, the tech just missed something that we did, and sometimes he was given incorrect information. Those variances are resolved after the practice.

      You are right that less screens means less changes -- less opportunities to be behind. As long as you keep what's on the screen easily readible, it's great to put more than one line on a screen. Just make sure the screen breaks are logical musically. Your tech may not know what works musically, even if he knows the song. Here's an example of what I mean, using an old hymn

      Holy, holy, holy, Lord God

      Almighty, early in the morning

      our song shall rise to Thee;

      Now there's not much you can do if the media guy is just behind on changing to the screen you want. However, the more he is having to think about what screen to go to, the more the opportunity he has to be late. Videoing the screen during a service (rather than videoing the folks on the stage) is an easy technique for identifying whether the media guy is behind.

      Talk to your media tech people. There may be reasons for their approach (like there are reasons for the way we do it). The way you (or I) would do things may not be the best way for them. And there may be ways they can improve their process.


      • #4
        I would just a couple of things to the great thoughts here. As mentioned, even if they aren't "musical" the tech should be familiar with the songs and how the team is doing them. Clear communication is key.
        As for changing the actual slides, I've always trained my techs to change the slide to the next one before all the words are finished. Our brains process ahead, so depending on the tempo of the song, the tech can advance during the last 1-3 words of the slide. That way, the congregation's brains will process what's coming next and be able to keep singing without a break. Of course, again it takes familiarity and practice to get the timing right.
        Also, I tend to lean more toward 4-5 lines of text on a slide. The reason is context. Which is also why I include punctuation. Part of what we should be doing is informing theology and biblical truth through the songs we lead the congregation in. Helping them see more than 1 or 2 lines at time gives them a better context and understanding of what the song is about as they sing it and makes it more likely they will remember it later.
        Hope you find the right balance for your setting.

        P.S. You might want to check out the website/blog of MidnightOil Productions. They've offered some great tips from time to time of creating effective visuals for songs and other stuff. www.midnightoilproductions.com/blog.
        Last edited by cgambill; 02-03-2012, 01:03 PM.


        • #5
          Yeah, my question isn't around the issue of the style being too busy or unreadable, but the fact that we're doing anything more than black background, white lyrics and that there are more words per slide than there used to be (I usually have VERY LARGE FONT trimmed in .3 black outline so it definitely stands out very clearly. There haven't been any complaints over "we can't read what's there". And we've got all the phrasing right and aren't breaking things up at odd places.

          As to the repetitious verses and choruses, I think my area of disagreement with the "start-to-finish" philosophy is that our expectation with our tech. crew is that they're just as much a part of the creative process and the artistry of what happens and the band is - not just grunts sitting there pressing a button. Therefore, they need to be proactive and clued in to the flow of the atmosphere and the moment. I could plot out the entire thing from start to finish but then put any monkey there to press a button and there is no creative element nor does it give them the option of being more free to change a background on the fly. It isn't exactly similar but think about this: our musicians and singers are expected to follow a chart that isn't repetitious from beginning to end. Each song may be three or more pages long if we did repeat every section. No, we put the chorus down once and then after the following verse we put (to chorus) for the return (assuming all things are equal and there isn't anything different with the chorus 1 and 2). They not only follow this, but they sing on pitch, AND play an instrument, and do it while being in front of a room full of people. Ergo, that isn't a difficulty. So, my point would be, how much LESS difficult is it, if you know the song, to return to a prior chorus and then hit the next verse when the slides are all visible right in front of you. Keep in mind we are fully functional with PP4 so you only have 10-12 slides, they are large and you can easily see them clearly, they are both colored and labeled to indicate what section is what - all it takes is knowing the song so that you know when the verse ends and the chorus begins. This bewilders me because it just isn't that hard......to me.

          As I think about it, it seems odd that presentation software comes so that you can see the layout of the song the way you do. This is unnecessary if you just wait until your at the end of the line and hit next for the next slide. You wouldn't really even need to have a tech. view different from the congregational view. Just arrow right or left through the slides.

          NOW, having said all that, keep in mind that I know that there are places who don't have sufficient volunteer support and you may HAVE to lay it all out like that because the person in the seat could change from week to week and so the set up must be as easy as possible. Thankfully, we do have a good group to pull from and we can train them with a bit more depth, so that is something to consider.


          • #6
            To answer your ending question, we do what works for us, not because some other church does it. But I try to watch for cool examples I like, and incorporate elements of that if it works for us.

            I am relatively picky on what our visuals should be, and our pastor is even more so. But our key is simple and clean, but nice. We use ProPresenter, and it sounds like you do too. So moving back and forth between slides is so easy when you can see the whole song at once - that is, if you only have 10-15 slides per song, not 30! I have about four lines per slide, centered on the screen, and each line and each slide needs to be phrased with the rhythm and breaks of the song. That's critical. I usually have all the slides in order, including repeats of verses and choruses so they can just go to the next slide each time. But if the song warrants it, especially if there aren't a lot of slides per song, it's just as easy to click back on a chorus or verse slide in the layout of the song rather than adding more slides. The tech needs to be aware and ready to skip around if the worship leader goes there. He knows it's his job to anticipate and be flexible to change in a moment's notice. Your tech absolutely needs to understand music and know the songs well. I also want the next slide on the screen just moments before people are supposed to sing it. Never after, and never too far in advance. For instance, if there's a musical interlude, I don't want the next lyrics to be on the screen until just before we're supposed to start singing again. People shouldn't have to guess about what they're supposed to be singing.

            We keep the same graphic background for a whole song, and actually sometimes two songs in a row. We don't want the backgrounds to be distracting or make it hard to read the words. We stick to blended colors for the most part. And if it is a video loop, the motion is slow and subtle. I would actually like to be a little more creative, but our pastor wants to make sure it looks cool, but not distracting and not hard to read the lyrics.

            Hope that helps!


            • #7
              I just want to follow up on one thing about expecting the tech to just go back to the chorus, or whatever.

              I play piano for our services, and I can read the real sheet music (including most of the Italian stuff!). Knowing where to go in the music isn't a problem. However, sometimes the page turns are just impractical -- it's a pain to go back 4 pages in one measure just so the publisher could save printing costs. So I'll copy those extra pages to make the flow better. And I'll mark the copies and x out parts of pages that I might not need. Or cut and tape what I need onto one page. Anything that works. I have to use the technology available in the way that works the best with my skills. Someone else might be able to turn back 4 pages in 1 measure. That's great.

              The same thing applies to the tech. He knows what makes him use the technology available the best.

              I've watched many techs trying to figure out where the worship leader was going in the song. I feel sorry for them, because it makes the tech look bad, when it was the worship leader who made a decision on the fly. That's fixed by planning and communication and has to come from the worship leader. The tech probably isn't a mind reader. Yes, you can work together closely enough that he will know what you're going to do. But that takes communication, too.

              If your team is as great as you say, then you should listen to them. And if they're not that great, you might have to listen more.


              • #8
                See, I don't get the whole "distraction" thing. Not that I don't think backgrounds can't sometimes be too busy, but of all the things within the atmosphere of worship, if someone gets distracted by a background they're just as apt (if not more so) to be distracted by the movement of the bodies on stage, of those around them, of babies crying, of folks coming in late, of folks going to the restroom, etc., etc,.... What I mean is, there are a TON of distractions possible that are "louder" than a motion background. We're seizing the focus on backgrounds and if there is this incredible absence of distraction and a motion background would break some fragile peace we think is apparently there. It's not like we're tipping over a chest of fine china in a vow-of-silence monastery. I just think that because it is a visible element, we're super-sensitive to something that really isn't a big issue. I don't know that I've ever seen a background that distracted me from worship. I've seen some that were too busy but not only has that been the exception, it still didn't distract me from worship. I think we're over-spiritualizing it and taking ourselves a bit too seriously there. It is spiritual! It is serious! But I think a motion background is the whipping boy for something else that may be the real issue and I can't put my finger on what that is. I know one thing: when the Israelites built the first temple and the Levites consecrated it and the glory of God fell, I don't think anyone there was distracted by all the smoke and the fire.

                One last thought - when I think of art and creativity, it is my belief that the church should be the MOST artful, MOST creative people on the planet. However, I'm afraid that we seriously lag and play second fiddle. We are in a media-driven, Transformer-explosions, quick-edit, sound-bite culture. We not only need to catch up - we need to lead the way! Not following their trends but becoming trend-setters for them to go by. Oh well! I'll go ahead and dismount the soap-box here.


                • #9
                  Yeah, but your example is flawed because we don't have to turn back 4 pages (30+ slides) we only have one page of "music" for the tech. to read and thus, there are no page turns! There are only 10-12 slides (say, equivalent to one page of music per your example). Think of Bach's Minuet in G Major. The first section repeats, the second section repeats and then the restatement of the first section to end. One page with repeats. It could have been written without repeats with each section scored out all of the way and be two pages (or maybe more). Which is more simple?

                  Additionally, in PP4, you can make the tech's. view of the slides as big or small as you like. In order to view all slides in the start-to-finish model, you have to shrink the slides down (maybe a bit larger than a man's watchface) and this makes reading the words on the slide you are clicking on very difficult if not impossible. BUT if you only have 10-12 slides, you can enlarge them and see them all at a glance, on one page, and read clearly every slide. Then it is simply a matter of knowing the song. Allow me to try and illustrate:

                  SLIDE 1 (V1)
                  Everyone needs compassion,
                  Love that's never failing;
                  Let mercy fall on me.

                  SLIDE 2
                  Everyone needs forgiveness,
                  The kindness of a Saviour;
                  The Hope of nations.

                  SLIDE 3 (CHORUS)
                  Saviour, He can move the mountains,
                  My God is Mighty to save,
                  He is Mighty to save.

                  SLIDE 4
                  Forever, Author of salvation,
                  He rose and conquered the grave,
                  Jesus conquered the grave.

                  SLIDE 5 (V2)
                  So take me as You find me,
                  All my fears and failures,
                  Fill my life again.

                  SLIDE 6
                  I give my life to follow
                  Everything I believe in,
                  Now I surrender.

                  SLIDE 7 (BRIDGE)
                  Shine your light and let the whole world see,
                  We're singing for the glory of the risen King

                  Keep in mind here that I follow the traditional "secular" approach to songwriting, meaning that I don't call every time a section pauses and then starts a different verse - SLIDES 1 & 2 are VERSE 1, not V1 and V2.

                  So...7 slides, the chorus will obviously repeat but if you know the song this couldn't be more simple. If I made a slide for every chorus and repeated bridge I would have.....(counting)......12 or more depending on if we repeated a verse (we most probably would). When I first arrived here, each of these slides would've been split in half so double these numbers for the prior way of doing things (14 without repeats, 24 with repeats). Scroll to where you can see these "slides" and pull up the song on YouTube and see if you can't click through this song. This is CAKE! LOL

                  Now, if I had the slide equivalent to page turns over multiple pages of music, I might would concede your point. But my method, in fact, eliminates page turns (scrolling up and down slides for the tech.). If I told you that I had a method for you to NEVER have to turn a page as a musician, would that be preferable to you cutting, pasting, copying, and marking your music?


                  • #10
                    It's not as much an issue of distraction as it is competing visual messages. There is something to read and something to watch in the same place at the same time.

                    It's different than someone walking in- unless they were walking right in front of you, you would be able to divert your attention away from it. With motion slides, a risk is that someone is either trying to ignore the motion to read the slide or look around the words to see the motion.

                    Think of it like background music during the sermon closing or prayer time. If it's light and subtle and not competing with the speaker, it can be great. But some get carried away and you have to mentally block out the music to hear the speaker. Then it's a distraction.

                    I think we're over-spiritualizing it and taking ourselves a bit too seriously there. It is spiritual! It is serious! But I think a motion background is the whipping boy for something else that may be the real issue and I can't put my finger on what that is.
                    Of course the other extreme of taking ones' self too seriously is when we put our artiste hat on and get more concerned about the intricacy and creativeness of our slides in an attempt to compensate for something else that may be missing. I don't think anyone is saying it's bad to use motion slides, as long as it doesn't get overboard in the name of having a cool program.

                    If what you're doing works, go for it.
                    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


                    • #11
                      Hey Moosicman, I'm with ya all the way! A couple of responses: in our case, we're in an old, small building and our only piece of creativity and art, in my opinion, is what I put on the screen. (By the way, I'm the keyboard player and backup singer, leader of the band, and manager of all techs and worship team, just under our pastor who is also our worship leader.) I think you're right on track for setting up your slides as you have in your example of Mighty to Save. And it's great that in PP you can see all the slides for one song at once, so it does make it easy to click back and forth on whatever slide you need. To me, the key is if your tech knows the song well enough, knows how to instantly find the appropriate slide, and not have to fish around for it. It really is very easy, like you said, but they have to be paying attention. But uh, that's exactly it. To me, it's their job to know the song, pay attention, and really know how to follow the worship leader. Generally, the song is probably going to be sung in the same order most of the time, so there shouldn't be too many surprises. But hello, we're supposed to be following the Spirit too, right, so the leader should by all means have the freedom to jump around a bit if he or she feels led to. And the band, singers, and techs, need to be prepared to follow along. As a musician, I still use music to play from, but mostly just in case I need it. I'd rather play without looking at any music, but I still do have it there. I prefer only having one page per song, but sometimes I have two, but of course I have them spread out before I play. Certainly no page turning for me when I'm playing.

                      As for backgrounds and distractions, yeah, I know your point. But we actually had people say they couldn't read the words with some of the backgrounds we used to use. One of the top things I try to teach my techs is that it's their job NOT to be a distraction. That's how they help people worship, so the people can just really get into the song and the message, and anything we do as a worship team, techs included, should enhance, but not distract from any of that. If they see our errors, if they can't read the words, if the words aren't there and they don't know what to sing, then those things are distractions. Yeah of course we can't control the other people in the room and all the other stuff that goes on. You bet. But what we do have control over, we want it to be done well, we want to create the best atmosphere of worship we can, and we want our worship team/techs to be able to use their talents, including creativity, as best as they can.


                      • #12
                        TO MIKEONBASS

                        I understand what you are saying. Perhaps what I should say is that it isn't so much the imagery that is the biggest deal in my question. I think perhaps this thread has gone too heavy on that angle. I just happened to go off on a tangent because I hear that a lot (various places - not my church specifically) and to me it sounds akin to certain church members not wanting drums and guitars. We're not having an issue there beyond it just being a change from what was to what is. Anytime you change anything (as I'm sure you all know) there is resistance to that change. What I'm telling you is that I'm able to discern the difference between the typical nay-sayers and as to whether there is something more legitimate there. There's actually not.

                        And we don't want extremes of course but if I have my rathers, give me errors on the side of being too artistic than being apathetic and ho hum. I'd rather mess up trying to give my best than I would giving 2nd best.
                        Last edited by Moosicman; 02-03-2012, 05:07 PM.


                        • #13
                          I had a long reply typed out, but it went away somehow.

                          Anyway, I'll try again.

                          I like your slides on "Mighty to Save". In fact, we use the same ones.

                          Using your slides, the way we would sing MtS would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, (actually an interlude here), 5, 6, 3, 4, 3, 4. I didn't forget the bridge -- we don't use it. Our tech guy is more comfortable with just going down the page 1, 2, 3, 4, ... 13, 14. So that's the way he sets up his file. The information he receives is "1, c, c, interlude, 2, c, c". He converts that into his 14 slides and sets up the backgrounds he thinks appropriate. Sometimes they are to my taste, and sometimes they aren't. But we let him have that artistery. If he gets way out of bounds, then we might say something -- but he hasn't. However, we've also given him some guidelines: a certain size and type of font, because that is what works best in our situation. When he thinks it is necessary, he'll go outside of the guidelines, though, maybe using a slightly smaller font because that makes the slides look better overall.

                          The subs for our media guy really like the "just go down the page" thing. They don't have to be as familiar with how a song flows to keep up.

                          Another example might be with the music our vocalists use. We have a notebook each week, and each vocalist sets up his or her own notebook. We usually communicate which side of the notebook (left or right) each song should start on. Sometimes the vocalists do it differently, though. That's fine with me. The recommendation is to make their life easier -- it's not a commandment. Sometimes the vocalists make their life really hard. Can you imagine starting a 2 page song on the right side, and flipping pages halfway through the song, and then again to go back to the next verse?? I'd never do it that way. But if it works for a vocalist, I've finally learned not to bother with "fixing" it for them.

                          Leading corporate worship is about enabling the entire group to worship. (I suspect we agree on that!). Sometimes we get too concerned about the "show" (graphics too simple or too distracting; music too loud or too soft; music too old or too new; drummer can't drum; pianist can't play!) or about worshipping ourselves that we forget that the group comes first. Remembering that we want everyone to worship makes resolving these issues harder in some ways, but easier in others. But it definitely means that we must be willing to submit our own preferences to those of others, "lest we be a stumbling block".


                          • #14
                            Well, again, I'm blowing up the font to very large sizes. I'm usually the one looking over the presentation prior to rehearsal and for instance if there is a white moving background and white words, I'll change it to make it visible. So I know what you mean there totally. Active backgrounds are different than a background that disguises the words.

                            And I'm sure there are people in the service who think it is too busy. There are also people there who don't think it is busy enough. We have 1000 in worship. I'm not looking to please everybody. As Mike said, if what we're doing works for us, we'll go for it. But seeing as how it is a change and there is a little push back and questions why, I just wondered if what I suspected was the case: that there isn't really a set "standard" or rule of thumb and that everybody is doing what they're doing because it is functional for them. LOL As ours will be once they've saturated in it a bit and converted over. Plus, your advice and opinions help me to be objective and not just plow through with "my way". Thanks for the input too!! Any others?


                            • #15
                              I'll add, too, that the Spirit who is leading some into spontaneously adding an extra chorus is the same God who blesses preparation (remember the parable about counting the cost before you start something!).

                              If your spontaneous following of the Spirit is causing problems for your tech guy or your band, maybe it ain't the Holy Spirit speaking?? (I know it's bad grammar, and it's intended to be!) Should they have to "keep up" regularly ? A shepherd that loses the sheep, even if (s)he finds them again, isn't much of a shepherd.