New Keynote / ProPresenter Workflow

As most of you know, we switched from MediaShout to ProPresenter a few months ago. The process has been very smooth, and I'm very glad we made the change. The only small wrinkle in the system is how we deal with sermon note slides. With MediaShout, we created the slides in PowerPoint, then imported that deck into MediaShout.  MediaShout played the PowerPoint presentation back just like we were actually in PowerPoint. This was both good and bad. It's good because if we needed to make a last-minute change to a slide, we switched to PPT, made the change and refreshed the cue in MS. That worked well. The bad was that the integration never felt that tight. Sure, it worked, but if you had a build slide, MS only shows one thumbnail and no indication that it is a build. And random access to slides was dicey (then again maybe your pastor never changes up his or her sermon on the fly?).

With ProPresenter, we use Keynote for creating sermon slides. We could use PowerPoint, but Keynote is so much better there's no point. After we build the slides in Keynote, we export them as JPGs (Keynote automatically serial numbers them, including build steps), and import them into Pro. Once the slides are in Pro, they act like any other element. All steps of the builds are visible and accessible, we can access any one at any time and it's generally very easy to move through a message. Except...

The fly in this wonderful ointment appears when we need to make a change. Normally, we create the slides in the early afternoon on Sunday (we meet Sunday nights, remember) and import them into Pro. During run-through we proof the slides. It's not uncommon to find a typo at this point. Thankfully, these are easy to fix, we simply switch to Keynote, make the change and re-export—overwriting the existing files. On playback, Pro calls the new files and all is well in the kingdom. Except...

There are times when we need to add a slide. Sometimes as the pastor is tweaking his message he changes a few things. Other times, we discover there is a better way to present a build (like I did this past Sunday), and we need to do a wholesale re-arrange. This is where it gets sticky.

It all comes down to how you build your Keynote. If you create your build steps manually, it's not that big a deal. You can delete your existing slides from the Pro presentation, and re-import the whole lot of them and be fine. If however, you employ Keynote's build feature to create the builds for you, there often needs to be some re-arranging of slides in Pro. Other times we'll start a build, step out to a scripture slide, and come back to the build. Rather than create multiple copies of the same slide, I just duplicate it in Pro (which simply calls the same file multiple times). The long and the short of it is this; exporting the slides early in the day often leads to a few more steps of exporting and re-arranging. This Sunday, I hit on the solution; Don't do it. Well, at least not until the last minute.

Our new workflow, starting this Sunday will be to keep the slides in Keynote right up until a few minutes before doors open. We will freeze the presentation at 4:30 (service is at 5:00, doors open at 4:45), which means no more changes. We'll do a quick export, set it up in Pro (which normally takes a minute or two) and we're done. We'll proof the slides in Keynote during run-through, so if there are changes, they can be made on the fly right there, saving us a few steps. Once I get the pastor's sermon at 4:30 I can scan it to see if we need to make any changes to the way we're built, then export. I'll let you know how it goes, but I feel really good about this change right now.

The alternative of course, is to just run the sermon notes from Keynote. My problem with this is twofold. First, when Keynote is in Presentation mode, it takes over the graphics card, and changing from Pro to Keynote causes the screen to dip to black for a second. I don' t like this (call me a perfectionist if you want...). Second, while I like Keynote's presentation mode better than PowerPoint's, I like Pro much better because you can see the whole deck at once. In our world, random access is important. Your mileage may vary.

Looking back over this post, I realized it took me more time to explain it than it will take to implement the change. Hopefully it will save someone some time!