Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Audience Participation

This weekend we got to use technology in a pretty cool way to engage with our congregation. One of the things Upper Room is known for is our experiential style of worship. Almost every week, we have some type of activity that allows the congregation to engage in the teaching they have just heard. Sometimes it’s reflective, other times it’s very active. We’ve put giant calendars on stage and asked people to commit to having a difficult conversation by a certain date. We’ve asked people to write on walls, pick up stones with a new name, even bring items in to sell on ebay to raise money for Heal Africa. This week was about celebrating our experiential nature.

We set 3 laptops up around our worship space. During the message, we encouraged people to go to a laptop and “blog” about a particular experiential that impacted their lives. Our web guru, also a Mike, designed a simple form on our web site that would take their entries and pass it to a database on the server via php. The form had a prompt question, and a text box sized to limit the length of the entries (we weren’t looking for a novella, just a few thoughts).

Once the person hit submit, they received a confirmation that their message was sent, and 5 seconds later, the page refreshed (Mike B.–you’re good!). Our Creative Director, Craig, sat in the service with his laptop checking the database via our website admin page (which was also custom designed in large part by Mike B.). As the posts came in, he chose the posts that fit the topic the most closely, and instant messaged them to me via Google Chat. I then took the copy and pasted it into a Keynote presentation. I had build at template that would display the words using the typewriter effect. I adjusted the timing based on a simple 3.5 seconds per line timing that we determined was about the right speed.

During the message, I was receiving the IMs and building the Keynote presentation (which actually resided on our iMac running ProPresenter), while our presentation tech followed our pastor with sermon slides in ProPresenter. Near the end of the message, I saved the Keynote and closed it. During the prayer, we took all lights to black, went to black in ProPresenter and flipped to Keynote. The first slide was black there, too, so the change was seamless if anyone was peeking. We then ran the “blog posts” from Keynote in order to take advantage of the typewriter effect.

At the end of this section, we went back to black, returned to ProPresenter and wrapped up the evening. It was pretty neat to see how people have been impacted by the experientials, and very cool to have their comments on the screen just minutes after they wrote them. Of course, we couldn’t have pulled it off were it not for our great Tech Team (props to Jeff, Ronica, Erik & Les). They truly rocked it tonight and brought their A-game. I’ve always said that one of my goals is to work myself out of a job in the tech booth. I love seeing volunteers so good at what they do that I can concentrate on other activities while they make the service happen with very little input from me. And I love being able to use technology to engage with our congregation in creative ways. That’s what we did this weekend… how about you?

10 Comments

  1. smithville99@gmail.com

    That’s a very cool idea Mike. I just wanted to throw out an idea to possible plus it.

    At the Echo conference they used quartz composer to create a screen saver/video from the RSS feed of twitter “tweets” about Echo.

    You could create a RSS feed from the blog posts, direct that feed into quartz composer. This will automate the text input and give you a lot of style/ visual control over how it looks.

    Quartz Composer is a free tool in OS X. I think it has to be installed with the developers tools.

    Anyway, just an idea…

  2. smithville99@gmail.com

    That’s a very cool idea Mike. I just wanted to throw out an idea to possible plus it.

    At the Echo conference they used quartz composer to create a screen saver/video from the RSS feed of twitter “tweets” about Echo.

    You could create a RSS feed from the blog posts, direct that feed into quartz composer. This will automate the text input and give you a lot of style/ visual control over how it looks.

    Quartz Composer is a free tool in OS X. I think it has to be installed with the developers tools.

    Anyway, just an idea…

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Great idea, Dave. I’ve been meaning to get in and play with Quartz composer for a while, just haven’t had the time. Given the way we wanted these posts to run in the service, we needed a little more control over which ones and how they were presented.

    I could see many other applications, however, that could benefit from something as you suggest. I really want to start doing more audience participation type stuff, and that’s a good tool to keep in the tech superhero tool belt!

    Thanks!

    mike

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Great idea, Dave. I’ve been meaning to get in and play with Quartz composer for a while, just haven’t had the time. Given the way we wanted these posts to run in the service, we needed a little more control over which ones and how they were presented.

    I could see many other applications, however, that could benefit from something as you suggest. I really want to start doing more audience participation type stuff, and that’s a good tool to keep in the tech superhero tool belt!

    Thanks!

    mike

  5. cryanwoolsey@gmail.com

    Great idea. We’re doing something similar using text messaging. Tell me, where I can find this typewriter tool in Keynote? I’m having trouble finding it.

    Thanks! Love the blog.

  6. cryanwoolsey@gmail.com

    Great idea. We’re doing something similar using text messaging. Tell me, where I can find this typewriter tool in Keynote? I’m having trouble finding it.

    Thanks! Love the blog.

  7. neilmac@mac.com

    Sounds great Mike,

    Another possible idea to make it more accessible to *almost* everyone which we’ve tried here is to have folks text (SMS) their comments to a mobile (tr. cellphone) shortcode. That auto-magically populates the blog as a comment and can then be used as you describe with IM/Keynote/PP.

    The advantages are: No Twitter pre-setup/account required, Almost everyone has a mobile (at least here in Scotland anyway!), No need for zillions of computers/long queues, no tech training required — most folks can text, No need to get up from your seat (unless you want to of course :-)). It worked for us as an instant-ease-of-use-the-response-mechanism-is in-your-pocket.

    Blessings,

    Neil

  8. neilmac@mac.com

    Sounds great Mike,

    Another possible idea to make it more accessible to *almost* everyone which we’ve tried here is to have folks text (SMS) their comments to a mobile (tr. cellphone) shortcode. That auto-magically populates the blog as a comment and can then be used as you describe with IM/Keynote/PP.

    The advantages are: No Twitter pre-setup/account required, Almost everyone has a mobile (at least here in Scotland anyway!), No need for zillions of computers/long queues, no tech training required — most folks can text, No need to get up from your seat (unless you want to of course :-)). It worked for us as an instant-ease-of-use-the-response-mechanism-is in-your-pocket.

    Blessings,

    Neil

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Great thoughts, Neil, thanks!

    Ryan–the typewriter effect is located in the animation pane of the inspector. Select the type block you wish to animate, go to the animation pane (the yellow diamond with lines coming out of it), and select the effect “Typewriter.” You can alter the timing for the effect to suit the length of the text. We found 3.5 seconds per line was about right, but your mileage may vary.

    Thanks for reading!

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Great thoughts, Neil, thanks!

    Ryan–the typewriter effect is located in the animation pane of the inspector. Select the type block you wish to animate, go to the animation pane (the yellow diamond with lines coming out of it), and select the effect “Typewriter.” You can alter the timing for the effect to suit the length of the text. We found 3.5 seconds per line was about right, but your mileage may vary.

    Thanks for reading!

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