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No ChurchTechWeekly This Week

Yeah, I know the title of the show is ChurchTechWeekly, but we had a bit of a delivery problem yesterday. Due to some bad traffic and an unscheduled inspection, our rental order arrived about 6 hours later than I planned. Which meant install went 6 hours longer than planned. Which led to no CTW.

But hey, you're all busy this week preparing for Easter anyway. We'll be back next week, and we have a great panel lined up.

Have a great Easter week!

Shift Worship Media Creator

You can't see it here, but there is a cool particle animation going on here, and it took about 2 minutes to create. So cool!

You can't see it here, but there is a cool particle animation going on here, and it took about 2 minutes to create. So cool!

I was tipped off to a very cool new background creation tool by my friend Camron Ware. It’s launching today, and I had the opportunity to pre-view the app to see how it works. The Shift Media Creator is one of those purpose-built tools that is a model of simplicity. It’s not fancy, but it does the job very effectively and easily.

You can start with your own images or anything else you have on your iPhone. The first step is to choose the aspect ratio. HD, SD are both there along with triple-wide versions of HD & SD. Flipping and rotating is a press away. Next, you can filter and adjust the image to your heart’s content. There are a bunch of filter packs, with more coming soon. A full suite of image adjustments are also on tap. 

One of the things I really appreciate about the app is the text preview tool. You can see what either white or black text will look like over your background. One of the biggest problems with a lot of backgrounds is that they either get so bright, dark or busy that it’s hard to read text. Shift allows you to fix this at the creation stage. Smart.

Once you adjust color and filter the image, you can add some motion. Right now, there are two motion generators; I would expect more to arrive shortly. As with the filters, you can vary the amount of the motion component to be as subtle or extreme as you like. 

Once you’re happy with the result, the app renders the image out to a 30 second loop. Options for saving include your camera roll or your Shift Worship account. You can also share using the built-in iOS sharing services. 

Overall, this is a great little tool. So often, we pick a background for a song based on what we have in our library. Many times, we’d love to do something more custom, but don’t have the time to dig into Motion or After Effects to come up with something. This simple app allows anyone to snap a picture, and quickly turn it into a very great looking motion loop. 

While the app is not free, it’s only $5.99. In making the two backgrounds I did for testing purposes, I saved $6.00 worth of time, so it’s clearly a bargain. Go check it out on the app store.

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The Soundbooth, Truncated Posts & Broken Links

OK. So it seems there have been some issues with the posts. I know because I’ve been deluged lately with emails, tweets and comments on those issues. Apparently, this has caused some confusion, and for that I apologize. Andy Stanley once said that it’s unfair to hold people to expectations you have never verbalized, so I guess I can take responsibility for the confusion. Hopefully, this post will help clear things up.

The Soundbooth

Van Metschke, my good friend, fellow TD and partner in many things CTA, has been writing a blog called The Soundbooth for a long, long time. Seven or eight years, in fact. After a few year hiatus, he’s decided to move things over here to CTA and post weekly on this site. In fact, if you allow your eyes to drift up toward the top of this page, you’ll see a menu bar with The Soundbooth as one of the options. Clicking on that link will (unsurprisingly) take you to Van’s posts. He posts there on Thursdays. That’s pretty much his page. His articles live right there on that page. So if you’re looking for an article from Van, that’s where you go. TheSoundbooth.com will also take you to that page. DNS; it’s a wonderful thing.

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As a side note, you might notice that on the main page, the short, “teaser” version of the post might say Mike Sessler at the top. That’s because I’ve been writing this blog for 7 years by myself and haven’t gotten used to indicating a different author. We’ll try to fix that for the future posts. But remember the rule; if the post title starts of with The Soundbooth: it’s written by Van. Clear as mud?

Truncated Posts

You may have noticed that some of the posts that appear on the main CTA page are truncated. There are two types of truncated posts we post there. The first is for ChurchTechWeekly posts. The second is for The Soundbooth posts. You can tell ChurchTech Weekly posts because they are titled, ChurchTechWeekly Episode XXX: … You can also spot The Soundbooth posts because they will be titled The Soundbooth:… Pretty clever, right?

The reason they are truncated is because I try to keep the main page very clean and have full posts for the main content. However, in order to make sure CTW episodes and The Soundbooth posts show up in the emails and on the RSS feed, I post a truncated version of them on the main page. 

Personally, I don’t like websites that post truncated versions of every post, making you click more every time. It’s great for page views, not so great for readers. That’s why I only do it for those two, special classes of posts (that have their own pages anyway). Make sense?

Broken Links

Finally, we’ve had some issues with broken More… links. I believe today I figured out what the problem is. It’s been a tough one to solve because we typically queue up our posts a few weeks out (Van already has the next month of posts written and scheduled), and we can’t test the link when we schedule the short version for the main page. 

Well, technically that’s not entirely true. I could test the link if I used the internal linking structure. However, I use a fully qualified link so that you can click on it from the email or RSS feed (that’s the point, remember?), and since the target post doesn’t yet exist, we don’t know for sure if the link will work.

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Like I said, today, I think I figured out what has been breaking the links. The solution is pretty easy to implement (if this is what it is), so here’s hoping we have this licked. However, on the chance that we don’t, I should point out that we have a pretty wonderful search engine on this site. It’s right over there on the right, just above the sponsor graphics. And if you were to say, copy and paste the title of the post you want to read into said search engine, it will in all likelihood, take you right to that post. Search is cool like that.

Why So Many Problems?

I can hear frustration in the voices of those who email, tweet and comment about all the problems. And here’s the deal. We’re not a big online publishing empire. I work on this website in my spare time on evenings and weekends (my weekends being Monday & Tuesday). I have a full-time job as a TD, and I have two girls; one in college, one in high school. I devote as much time as I can to this site, and spend many hours a week answering reader emails, writing posts, producing a podcast and working on the occasional video. I also write for three other magazines. 

I say all that not so you’ll feel bad for me—I do this because I enjoy it—but rather to point out that I don’t spend all my time checking, double-checking and fixing issues. I work hard to make sure posts work the way they should, but sometimes I’m in a hurry to get to something else (like my job) and I miss something. For that I apologize. We’re just doing our best here. 

If you can’t find a post because a link is broken, slow down, take a deep breath and go to the site. Chances are, it’s right on the first page. If not, use the search box, I’m sure it will come right up. You’re tech guys, you can figure this out. It’s what we do. 

Alright. That ends this informational rant. Hopefully I didn’t offend too many people. Thanks for reading; back to our regularly scheduled post on church tech next week. Have a great weekend!

Gear Techs

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No CTW This Week; But We Need Your Help!

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We decided to take this week off from CTW as we're all busy preparing for Christmas. However, we're going to try to record a show this coming Sunday night. We're hoping to round up a nice big panel to share Christmas stories. And here is where you come in.

Many of us have Christmas stories—funny ones, tragic ones, disasters and triumphs. We'd like to hear them. Send them to me at ctw@churchtecharts.org. We'll do dramatic readings of the good ones on the show. So don't be shy! 

Great stories will make a great show—send them in!