Updated ProPresenter Workflow

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I've been using ProPresenter at Upper Room since about March '08. In that time, I've gone from running it on my MacBook Pro to having a dedicated iMac in the video booth. So up until a few weeks ago, my workflow for building the weekend's playlist would involve screen-sharing my way up to the iMac from the MacPro in my office (mainly because I have two 22" monitors on it, and I can run all my graphic apps faster on 2 monitors) and building the show directly on the iMac via remote control. I'd fire files up to the iMac's HD via the network and get all my work done from the comfort of my office. That all changed a few weeks ago.

The culprit? The new Tech Director for CPC. Turns out, he also likes ProPresenter (more than that, he really didn't like the old way they did it--running everything from PowerPoint). So now, not only do we have to fight each other for access on Thursdays (our weekend build day), but I can't come in early on Sunday and edit, since they're using the iMac for CPC services. The nerve! ';-)

Thanks to ProPresenter's full support of multiple user accounts, having both Upper Room and CPC use the iMac wasn't a big deal. We each have our accounts, and that gives us separate song libraries, playlists and the like. However, access was an issue.

Since I know that Upper Room will be moving our offices soon, and that means I won't have direct access to the iMac anyway, I decided it was time for a new workflow. Since I recently upgraded the hard drive in my MacBook Pro (not a job for the faint of heart, I'll tell you that), I had an extra 160 Gig drive lying around. And since I ordered my new 320 Gig drive from my favorite hard drive retailer, OtherWorld Computing, I picked up a bus-powered FireWire enclosure. Having a pocket sized external hard drive at my disposal, it was time to start moving files.

I copied all my files (backgrounds, graphics, videos, etc.) from the iMac to the external drive. That gave me a complete copy of all the files that we've used. The key to making this work, however lives in the user's Library. Inside the Library folder is a folder called Application Support. Inside that is a folder called Renewed Vision. Finally, we find the ProPresenter folder. Hidden away inside that folder is the key to making this all work. I created a folder on my external drive called Library. This is essentially a holding place for the latest copy of the ProPresenter database. The last piece of the puzzle was to tell ProPresenter to look for media on the external drive, and not the internal one.

My plan is to put all our media on the external drive and sync the Library information to whatever computer I'm building on. Normally, I'll build on my MBP. I can edit all the songs, add videos to the Media tab, adjust my walk-in loop, whatever. All the media files live on the external, so they go where I go. When I'm done building, I copy the files from Mike/Library/Application Support/Renewed Vision/ProPresenter to the external drive. On Sunday, I'll move those files from the external to the iMac. Once that's done, I can launch ProPresenter and we'll be right where I left off.

And after the first copy, I only move the files that have changed since the last copy. You can see in the screen grab below, it's only 2 files (both .rvd), the backups folder and the thumbnails. Even then, I open the thumbnails folder and only copy the ones that are new. I'm debating whether to purchase a program called File Synchronization to make the Library file sync go quicker. It's only $15, but I'm cheap and I don't mind doing it manually.

The other beauty of this system is that I can now pre-build my ProPresenter shows from anywhere. As long as I have the drive, I have all the files I need, and the latest copy of the database. I could even walk into another church and run our service on their ProPresenter computer with ease.

So that's what I'm doing now. So far, two weeks in, it's working great. The only other changes I've made is to replace the shortcuts in the finder window's sidebar to point to the external drive instead of the internal one (I have a shortcut to the ProPresenter folder and another folder inside that where we keep our Keynote files). We now have no strife when working on our services, and I have the flexibility to make some last minute changes from home Sunday mornings while still in my bathrobe. Ain't technology great!