New ProPresenter Tricks

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: ProPresenter is the most actively developed software I've ever seen. The programming team at Renewed Vision just keeps cranking out the revisions, fixing bugs and adding new features almost weekly. As we've been using it pretty heavily now over the past few weeks, here are some of my favorite new features (and fixes).

Bail to Logo

This is a great feature. There is a button on the screen (which can also be activated by hitting F5) that will take you to any slide you previously set. I like to use it for our speakers. We will assign the "bail" slide to our series slide. Whenever the speaker drifts off script into a new illustration, or whenever it feels like the current slide has been on too long, but we don't have anywhere else to go, we can hit F5 and painlessly get to our series slide. Getting back to the regularly scheduled program is as simple as clicking on the next slide or (cue next favorite feature)...

Keyboard Access to Slides

By simply typing the number of the slide and hitting enter, you can directly select any slide in a presentation. Let's say you're in a song, ending a chorus and the worship leader throws in a bridge. You could click back to it or just hit 8-enter (assuming 8 is your bridge) and you're right there. It also works great for speaker slides. This weekend we had a collection of slides, but weren't entirely sure when the speaker would need them. Rather than clicking, our presentation tech simply used the numeric keypad and enter. Very simple, very fast. Or you could (cue next favorite feature)...

Hot Key Assigns

You can also assign any letter key (a-z) to any slide. I started thinking about how easy this could be with some of the simpler worship songs we sometimes sing. A song with a verse, chorus, bridge and blank could be assigned to verse="a", chorus="s", bridge="d", blank="f". Why those keys? Because it's the home row; you could fire the entire song, in any order with one hand without taking your eyes off the action. Even if you don't know the order in advance, you could pay attention to the music leader and be right there with the right slide without looking. Very cool. And to make it easier, ProPresenter displays the hot key shortcut on the slide so you don't have to remember it.

ProPresenter New Features

New "Hot Keys" (the white letters in lower left corners); Disabled Live Video button; and Direct Keyboard Access (the 13). Hit enter and you're right there at slide 13. Cool!

Advance to Next in 0 Seconds

I'm really happy to see this feature added. Previously (as in version 3.3.1 and earlier), the shortest amount of time you could enter into a "Go to Next" box was 1 second. Now you can enter 0. This is especially useful for the end of a video cue, as you can now automatically advance it to black, or a series slide or whatever you want. I'm finding that we're building our video cues with a black slide first, with a go to in 3 seconds, followed by the video with a go to in 0 seconds. With this setup, I can cue lights and presentation at the same time and the video will start playing just after the lights are out (using  a 3 second fade on the lights). It's one cue for the presentation op, as they merely need to fire the first black. 3 Seconds later the video is fired and as soon as the video is over, it moves on to black (or our next graphic). Super-easy.

Disabled Slides

There are several songs in our library with sections we don't always sing. Sometimes it is a rendition of a hymn that we will do stanzas 1,3 and 4, skipping 2 and 5. Previously, we would have had to either delete the unused stanzas (and type them in again later if needed) or move them to the end and make sure we don't accidently cue them or create another version of the song in the library. Now we can leave them in the presentation and disable them. When disabled, they are grayed out and you can't fire them. You can leave them inline where they normally belong, or move them to the end. Either way, they're right there whenever you need to bring them back. This also works great for alternate endings, special bridges or other elements one worship leader may use and another doesn't.

New Presentation from Clipboard

I'm not actually sure when this feature showed up, but I love it. Because we're still building our library, it seems I'm entering a new song every week. In Media Shout, creating a new song meant multiple trips between applications and a bunch of copy-paste cycles. With ProPresenter, I can select the entire song, complete with "Verse," "Chorus," "Bridge," and whatever other headings are there, copy it to the clipboard and select "File->New Presentation from Copied Text...." It's smart enough to use the headings as slide labels, and I can tell it to drop into the library or add it to the playlist I'm building. Talk about time-saving. What once took a few minutes and a ton of keystrokes now takes a few seconds and about 3. Love it!

Disable Video In

One feature I just discovered is the ability to disable the "Video In" button. Right now, we don't use live video at all in our setup, and it scared me that the Live Video button was right next to the Bail to Logo button. One errant mouse click and our presentation operators face would become the background (built-in iSight you know…). Thankfully, a checkbox in the preferences disables the button so a hasty click won't embarrass anyone.

I've also noticed improvements with the sorting of dragged in groups of files. This has been an issue that has been hard to replicate. I posted it on the Renewed Vision forums a while back and they couldn't duplicate the problem I had. I thought I was going crazy until someone else posted a similar problem. I'm not sure if they changed anything or if my computer is just acting nicer, but the last few group imports I've done have sorted correctly.

Things I'd Like to See Added

The ability to have an info loop running (a presentation of however many slides with Go to Next timers set, looping back to the first slide) and be able to edit or re-order another presentation in the playlist without affecting screen output. We could do this in Media Shout (though it was annoying because the script would jump to the new slide every time the timer advanced it), and it saved our bacon when we had to make last minute changes during walk-in. Call it a "Keep doing what you're doing on the screen while I go do this in the background" mode. Rather like the "Blind" mode in a light board.

The ability to sort a presentation by some criteria (name, date, label, color, etc.). Not sure how often I'd use this, but it'd be nice to have the option.

The option of fading an audio cue out when going to the next slide. I realize the intent of the audio cue is to fire a click track or backing track for the band (or house) to hear and be able to follow along with the lyrics. But sometimes, we just want a sound effect with the slide, and need that sound effect to end when we move on. I know we can hit the fade audio cue button, but that's 2 clicks...call me lazy.

Either the ability to set fade time increments (.1, .3, .5, whatever) in preferences, OR to have the up/down arrows increment by .1. Right now, they increment in .5 sec. steps, which for me is too coarse. I find myself switching between .3, .5 and .7 a lot, and it takes a mouse click, 3 keys and another mouse click to make that happen. While we're at it, it would be great to be able to have different fade time settings for each presentation. Some songs demand a quick .3 sec fade, while others feel better at .7 or even 1. I would love to set this during rehearsal and have it follow along.

I'd also like the have the labels menu keep the order that I put them in. I've gone through 2 or 3 times now and added my standard collection of labels, in the order I want, and they keep getting re-sorted. Not sure if it's a feature or a bug, but it bugs me. Being able to add new labels at the end and drag them up into the list, placing them in the middle of the list if I want (like re-ordering the playlist), would be nice, too.

Overall, I'm very happy with the choice to migrate to ProPresenter. I think it's great software, and I love how active the community is. My favorite part is that I know as soon as Renewed Vision reads this, they'll start working on some of the ideas and they'll show up in a few weeks. Not because I'm that important, but because that's how they are. They listen to their users and implement suggestions that make sense and benefit a large number of people (or sometimes just a few--they're that good). Thanks again guys for making my life less stressful on Sundays!

Submit to Digg | Submit to Del.icio.us | Submit to StumbleUpon