Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Category: Presentations (Page 2 of 7)

What’s the Difference: LCD vs. DLP Pt. 1

LCD or DLP? This is a great debate that has raged on for years. Some of the debate is fueled by technology, much more is fueled by marketing. Thankfully, manufacturers in both camps have been steadily improving their respective technologies over the years, and the difference is now smaller than ever. I believe for most applications, the technology inside the projector is now less important than the service, support, price and brightness; and the suitability for the application. But we’ll get to that shortly.

Much has been written about this subject, and rather than attempt to rehash all of that, I’m going to give you an overview of the two technologies along with some links to learn more. Let’s start off with a basic overview of how the two methods produce a picture. In reverse alpha order, LCD first. 

All LCD Projectors are 3 Chip Designs

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. You may see some projectors labeled 3LCD or being touted as having three chips as opposed to 1. The marketing difference compares not to single-chip LCD projectors (there are none), but to single-chip DLPs—the primary competitor to LCDs. Below is an example, albeit a highly simplified one, of how an LCD projector produces an image. 


Image courtesy of  Christie Digital

Image courtesy of Christie Digital

The light from the bulb(s) is split into three parts. It passes through three LCD panels (red, green & blue), and then re-combined. The result is a color image. The LCD panel has millions of pixels that can be open, closed or partially open. When open, light passes through and a color (or white if they’re all open) is produced. 

DLP is all Smoke and Mirrors

Well, technically no smoke. Unless you count the magic smoke that all electronics run on. Let the magic smoke out, and they stop working. But I digress. Below you’ll see an image of a typical single-chip DLP engine. As you can see, it’s a bit more complex. DLP stands for Digital Light Projection, and was developed by Texas Instruments. It’s essentially a chip full of thousands of little mirrors. The mirrors tilt either toward or away from the lens producing light or not. Because it’s a single chip, there is a color wheel in the system to produce the various colors.


Image courtesy of   Christie Digital

Image courtesy of Christie Digital

The technology takes advantage of a phenomenon in our vision called persistence of vision. Our eyes see relatively slowly. And what we see tends to stay there for a little bit. The DLP engine will flash the red portion of the image on the screen and sometime between 1/60th and 1/240th of a second later will then flash the green portion. Then the blue, then back to red. Some projectors event throw in yellow, magenta and cyan for good measure. In that short time frame, the red doesn’t full fade away—at least in our eyes. So when the green and blue parts pop up, we see it as one color. It’s crazy, but it works.

The downside is that some people have faster vision than others and can actually see each color individually. This is called the rainbow effect. It’s less of a problem now than it used to be; companies have sped up the rotation of the wheel to mitigate the effect. But if you can see it, you can’t un-see it, so to speak. 

3-Chip DLP is the Same, Only More

A 3-chip DLP projector is very similar to a single-chip, only there are three; one for red, green and blue. The rainbow effect doesn’t come into play in a 3 DLP design because there is no spinning color wheel. When you look at the above diagram, you can see why 3 DLP designs are so expensive; there’s a lot of stuff going on in there. You do get a good-looking image out of all the complexity, however. 

Does It Matter?

One of the questions I always ask when evaluating competing technologies is, “Does it matter?” When it comes to LCD vs. DLP, for the me the answer is yes. And no. The technology has advanced to a point where at a given price point, either will produce an acceptable image. So to some extent, the answer is no, it doesn’t matter. However, there are pros and cons for each technology, and one may be better suited for your application than the other. We’ll talk about that next time.

Roland

Today’s post is brought to you by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

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.

Today’s post is brought to you by Pacific Coast Entertainment. Pacific Coast Entertainment is the premier event production company servicing Southern California and the western states. PCE offers a complete line of Lighting, Audio, Video, and Staging equipment for rentals, sales and installs. Where old fashion customer service meets high tech solutions. PCE, your one stop tech resource.

Intentional Projection



Image courtesy of Stephen Proctor. Go read his post on this.

Image courtesy of Stephen Proctor. Go read his post on this.

Today we’ll wrap up our series on intentionality. After covering board layout, video, and lighting, it’s time to move on to another enigma; projection. When I say projection, I’m referring to what hits the big screen. This could be song lyrics, backgrounds, environmental projection and even announcement slides. Judging by what we see in some churches each weekend, there is little if any thought given to how a service ties together visually. And that’s a shame, because great projection does make a difference. 

They’re Not Just Backgrounds

What do the backgrounds you choose for your songs say? Have you considered that? Sometimes I think we choose the backgrounds because they are pretty not because they actually improve the look and feel of the song. 

But what if we had a consistent visual theme for the weekend? What if each element that hit the screen tied into the last, and all those together told a part of the story? How much more powerful would our services be?

Too Many Choices

While the internet has brought us access to thousands of choices of backgrounds, I’m not entirely sure this is a good thing. By that I mean it is that it’s far to easy to throw a bunch of images up on the screen, just because you have them. If you looked at my background library, you would see such a random collection of images it would make your head spin. Several people over the course of many years have collected those images. But just because we have them doesn’t mean we need to use them. 

Some people—my friend Stephen Proctor among them—have been experimenting with using just one visual for an entire series. Not a service, a series! Well, technically, they call them seasons now, but you get the point. That visual is carefully chosen to reflect a key concept of that series. Stephen wrote about that on his blog a while back. If you don’t follow his writings, you really should. 

I’ve seen other churches use no backgrounds at all, just white words on a black background. Sometimes simpler is better. But that’s not the point; the point is to consider why you are doing what you’re doing. 

We’re in a Visual Culture

Images really do matter. They tell a story and it’s up to us to make sure the story matches the story of the service. Even as I write this in my local Starbucks (one of 7 in a 5 minute radius of my house…), I am surrounded by visuals. The visuals in front of me are telling me a story of coffee—where it comes from, how it’s made and I see a glimpse into the lives of coffee farmers. That is all very much on purpose. Whether you like Starbucks coffee or not is beside the point. These visuals are telling me a story. 

A picture of a field of sunflowers might be pretty, but what does it have to do with the song? As we are careful to choose our colors for lighting, we need to be careful to choose backgrounds that reflect the story the song is telling. And the backgrounds and lighting should match, or at least complement once another. 

Keep Learning

I mentioned the concept of learning last time, too. Visual styles and tastes are a moving target. We need to develop a language and visual style that matches the culture of our church, and adds to the service. If you don’t follow Stephen, you should. Camron Ware’s Visual Worshiper web site is another fantastic resource, especially for environmental projection. Triple Wide Media and Church Motion Graphics are terrific sources for visual material. Just be careful not to use everything they make every weekend. 

Above all, just think about why you are doing what you do. Don’t just grab backgrounds out of the background bin because they are pretty. Each background (or lack thereof) should be a reflection of the moment. What are you trying to say with that song, and how does the background reinforce that message? The same goes for announcement graphics and sermon notes. Pastors, for the love of all that is holy and sacred, stop putting everything you’re saying on the screen. If people are reading, they’re not listening. Use visuals and words to reinforce your message, not be your message. 

My hope for this entire series is to encourage you to simply think things through. I take the approach that everything we do is up for grabs all the time. If we can’t justify why we’re doing it, we should stop doing it or change it until it makes sense. “Because we’ve always done it that way,” is not a good enough reason. I don’t want to do things just because. I want what I do to be intentional, so that I can make the biggest impact I can while I can. Hopefully, you’re inspired to do likewise.

Roland

Today’s post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

New Resource: The Wide Guide


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I don’t often do posts like this, but I also don’t like to have rules I can’t break once in a while. Most of the time we’re talking about gear, processes and better ways to do things. But today, I want to share with you a new resource that is not only a great resource, but it’s written by a good friend. 

The Wide Guide is a new ebook written by Luke McElroy of Orange Thread Media and TripleWideMedia.com. As you might expect from the title, it’s a book about doing wide-screen media. While some might release a blue-print for wide-screen, Luke—who has a bit of an obsession with the color orange—released an orange print. So there you go.

Now, let me take you on a bit of a side journey. I started doing production professionally in the mid ’80s. Back then, projection was in the form of 35mm slides. Lots of them. We stacked projectors up three or four high and nested them two and three deep. Then we laid them out three wide. It wasn’t uncommon to do a show that might have 21-27 projectors in either a 6-9-6 or 9-9-9 layout, all projected on a 30’ wide screen. It was glorious. We could get up to almost 15 fps, and the sound that made was incredible. 

Fast forward 30+ years, and we have some amazing tools at our disposal. The wealth of content and ideas for wide screen media is unmatched at any time in my career. The Wide Guide does an excellent job of giving you the tools you need to set up and utilize wide-screen content. It’s written in a field guide book format; there are eight chapters, each dealing with a different type of wide-screen projection. From triple-wide video walls, to edge blending to environmental projection, Luke does a great job of breaking each type down into the elements you need to know. Each chapter is fully illustrated and comes with a pro-con list along with some ways to save money, and a lengthly section of advice. 

A final chapter, “Gear Guide” actually names the names of the equipment you’ll need to pull this stuff off. I really appreciate it when authors use actual equipment names instead of generic ones. If I need Matrox Triple-Head-To-Go, I need to know that. A “commercially available single input, triple output converter box,” is not that helpful. Kudos to Luke for giving us the straight dope. He even talks about the software that is used to create cool video mapping effects, including the pros and cons of each. 

I would say that The Wide Guide is a book you’d keep on the shelf near your desk for quick reference. But it’s an e-book, so you’ll want it on your iPad, and your laptop so you can refer to it often. The pictures that start off each chapter will jumpstart brainstorming sessions and provide a great launchpad for those, “What if we did…” discussions. 

So, go buy the book. Luke is a friend, a great guy and has been on ChurchTechWeekly more than a few times. He’s a wealth of knowledge and has a heart to help the church use media intentionally. It’s only $10, so you’re giving up two fancy Starbucks drinks. Or just expense it. That’s what I’m going to do… Check it out at the TripleWide website. Oh, and just so you know, Luke’s not paying me to say this stuff. It really is a great book, and you really should go get it. 

Gear Techs

Today’s post is brought to you by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

Church Tech Weekly Episode 181: Eh, It’s Live to Me


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This week we talk about visual silence, multi screen environments, visual worship and a host of other topics related to immersive worship environments. Plus, some great new products in the news!

More…

Today’s post is brought to you by DPA Microphones. DPA’s range of microphones have earned their reputation  for exceptional clarity,  high resolution, above all, pure, uncolored accurate sound. Whether recording or sound reinforcement, theatrical or broadcast, DPA’s miking solutions have become the choice of professionals with uncompromising demands for sonic excellence.

Getting An iPad On The Big Screen


Yup, that's the Apple TV main menu live in ProPresenter.

Yup, that’s the Apple TV main menu live in ProPresenter.

Perhaps this has happened to you: You get a request from the pastor to show his iPad screen on the big screen during a service. Perhaps he wants to draw something, show some pictures or maybe even run his own slides. No matter, your challenge is to get the iPad on the screen. And probably the video for the web as well. But how? We have a few options. 

Wire It

Perhaps the easiest option is an Apple AV adapter. They are made in both 30-pin and Lightning versions. If I were doing this, I would probably go with a Lightning to HDMI, then covert HDMI to SDI and run it back to the booth. Once it’s in SDI, we can get it into ProPresenter or the video switcher without too much trouble. Of course, you’ll need an HDMI to SDI converter, and the iPad will be cabled. That may not be convenient or cool enough. So we may have to go wireless. 

Apple TV To The Rescue

Well, maybe. AirPlay Display is a very cool idea. You can mirror the iPad screen or use the Apple TV as a second display for Keynote. That’s all well and good, but how do you get the Apple TV into your system? It might seem easy as it’s an HDMI connector. However, thanks to the good people at the MPAA, we have to deal with HDCP. This wonderful anti-piracy copy protection scheme not only prevents you from stealing a copy of Fast and Furious 17, but from plugging the Apple TV into a switcher. Maybe. It kind of depends on all the equipment. That’s what’s so infuriating about HDCP. You never really know if it will work until you try it. And it may stop you from getting a signal even if you’re not doing anything remotely illegal. But, we can fix it.

Convert to DVI First

I’m not sure why, but if HDMI is converted to DVI (or VGA) HDCP doesn’t seem to throw a fit. This is what we ended up doing this past weekend. We have a Motu HDX-SDI interface on our Mac Pro which runs ProPresenter. We actually don’t use the HDX-SDI for video normally, it was just the cheapest 8-channel AES output device I could find. It also has the benefit of being able to ingest video.

After a little web research, I saw someone had success converting the HDMI output of the Apple TV to DVI, then running it through a Blackmagic DVI Extender, which turns it into SDI. I have a DVI Extender on my ProPresenter machine, so I pulled it off, and tried it. Sure enough, it worked great! 

The only problem is I use the DVI Extender for my main screen, so it’s not available for anything else. It was too late in the week to order another one, so I started rummaging around in our bin of old gear. I found a DVI to component video scan converter from Extron. As the HDX-SDI has analog component video in, I hooked it up. Bingo! There was a little bit of scan conversion noise, but it got filtered out by the time it hit the screen. So I left that hooked up for the weekend. If this becomes a regular thing, then I’ll probably buy a new DVI to SDI interface for ProPresenter (most likely a Matrox Convert DVI Plus) and use the DVI Extender for the Apple TV. 

In Practice

So once the video is coming in to the Mac, what do we do with it? You may not have noticed that ProPresenter has a live video option. Create a blank slide and go into the Editor. At the top, click on the Live Video icon and it drops a box on the slide. Size it to full screen and select your input. When that side goes to air, so does the video. It’s quite elegant. And since we have ProPresenter going to the video mixer, anything on the iPad will show up on the web video as well. It’s quite elegant. 

Another Lower Budget Option

What if you don’t have a video interface on your ProPresenter computer, plus the DVI to video converter? Well, you could do what I was first going to do: connect the Apple TV directly to the projector and switch inputs. This has  the advantage of being fairly simple and cheap. However, it doesn’t give you the ability to preview the shot before taking it live (something that scared me into coming up with the above solution), and it doesn’t get recorded. But it would work. In a pinch.

Safeguards

We put our Apple TV on our non-public Sound network and gave it an AirPlay Display password. You don’t want some kid in the congregation jacking your Apple TV during the service. This also helps ensure the bandwidth will be there for the interface. You may also have to play around with display resolution settings for a bit to get it all working. 

So there you go. A relatively simply way of getting the pastor’s iPad on the big screen. Now hopefully, no one tells Apple about this—I’d hate for them to figure out a way to lock this down. What we’re doing is not illegal, so there’s no reason to. But that might not stop the MPAA…

Gear Techs

Today’s post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

Back It Up: Presentation

Over the last few days, we’ve been talking backup. Wednesday we looked at our audio backup process, and earlier this year, I detailed our lighting backup system. Today, we’ll tackle another critical discipline, though it’s perhaps the easiest to backup: Presentation. 

Unless you’re still using overhead projectors for song words and sermon graphics, presentation is very easy to back up. That is because pretty much all the files are software-based, and software is easy to back up. Since I’m a belt and suspenders type of guy, I employ a two stage backup process.

Local, Automatic Backup

As we use ProPresenter running on a MacPro, the easiest way to make sure it’s backed up is to use Time Machine. We have a 250 GB SSD as our main boot drive in the machine, and another 1 TB spinning drive as a backup. Since I really don’t want Time Machine kicking in during the service, I use a cool little program called Time Machine Editor to have it backup Saturday night and Sunday afternoon after the service should be over. This ensures that we have a live backup after Saturday night in case something goes wrong on Sunday morning. 

The beauty of Time Machine is that it’s pretty automatic and doesn’t require any intervention. It also backs up everything, which is good. The downside is that it backs up everything so if we have to restore in a hurry, we could be in trouble. That’s where the cloud comes in.

Dropbox To The Rescue

By now you know I’m a fan of Dropbox. As we discussed in our opening post, part of backing up is trying to figure out what we have to back up and how to recover. If the MacPro goes out on Sunday morning, I’m not going to worry about trying to get it back up and running right then. Instead, I’m going to grab my laptop and run from that. 

But how to get ProPresenter up and running quickly on my MacBook Pro? That’s where my post-service backup system comes into play. I marry Dropbox to a Carbon Copy Cloner script that runs at 6:30 PM Saturday and 12:30 PM Sunday (after services wrap up). Basically the script copies the playlists, presentations and templates folders to a Dropbox folder on the Mac Pro. The files are extremely small, so they are pushed up to the cloud almost immediately. 

Because my laptop normally sits in my office running 24/7, the corresponding folder in my Dropbox is also updated. A quick drag and drop is all it takes to get the files needed for the service into ProPresenter on my MBP and we’re good to go. 

This is exactly what we did this past weekend. We had to meet off-site due to the sprinkler disaster, so I copied the current files from Dropbox into my ProPresenter folders on my MacBook Pro and carried it to the gym. 

Of course, we didn’t have a stage display, but we easily got through the service. If we really needed the stage display, I would borrow the USP display adapter I have at video.  

You can do the same thing with other presentation software, you just need to know where the files are stored, and which ones you need to backup for easy access. If you’re using Windows, you’ll need to poke around a little and come up with some software solutions.

What About The Projector?

That’s the one thing we really don’t have backed up. This is partially because we have a 16K Christie projector, and those are expensive. And bright. If we loose that one weekend, we’re actually in trouble. We do have two 6500 lumen projectors that we use for IMAG, and we could use one of those in a pinch. We also keep a spare bulb around at all times, just in case. 

As I said, presentation is actually pretty easy as it’s all software. One thing I’m probably going to add to this process in the near future is a full, bootable backup of the startup disk. I need to pick up another external drive and I’ll use CCC to copy the boot disk so in case the SSD goes bad, we can boot from the external and get up and running faster. 

So that’s it for presentation. Hopefully this series has inspired you to get your systems backed up. Because it’s not a matter of if equipment will fail, but when.

Today’s post is brought to you by DPA Microphones. DPA’s range of microphones have earned their reputation  for exceptional clarity,  high resolution, above all, pure, uncolored accurate sound. Whether recording or sound reinforcement, theatrical or broadcast, DPA’s miking solutions have become the choice of professionals with uncompromising demands for sonic excellence.

Church Tech Weekly Episode 154: A Long Couple Weeks In Canada


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We’re talking visual worship this week! Our panel digs into the concept of how visuals as an art form can draw people in to worship, how the younger generation responds in worship and we learn about the Salt Conference in Nashville. 

More… 

This post is brought to you by Shure Wireless. The new ULX D Dual and Quad wireless systems feature RF Cascade ports, a high density mode with significantly more simultaneous operating channels and bodypack diversity for mission critical applications. Visit their website at Shure.com.

CTW InfoComm 2013 Coverage: The Master List


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In case you missed some of them, or if you just want all the videos organized in one convenient location, the list below represents all the videos we shot of InfoComm 2013 in Orlando. We caught a pretty good cross-section, and I hope the content within is helpful. Each video will open in a new window so you can keep coming back to this list without digging around. You’re welcome. Without further adieu…

Bose PowerMatch Amplifiers New 4- and 8-channel amplifiers

Bose ControlSpace DSP New single rack space models with varying I/O

Avid S3 Live Audio Console The one everyone has been waiting for. Maybe…

Ensemble Designs NXT430 Router A slick little SDI router/DA.

Blackmagic SmartView Monitors Rack mount monitors and scopes.

Hitachi 9000 Series Projectors A new single chip DLP from a company known for LCD.

Roland VR-50HD Video Mixer A great 4-channel mixer with loads of I/O and features.

Digital Audio Labs Live Mixer Personal Mixers Yet another cool personal mixing option.

Chauvet Q-Wash 436Z-LED Crazy-bright moving head LED light.

Rush Lighting by Martin A new, affordable line from Martin.

Jands Stage CL If you’re using LED fixtures and conventional dimmers, this board is cool. Movers need not apply.

Martin M2 Lighting Consoles Lots of bang for the buck in these consoles.

Pivitec Personal Mixing System iPad-based personal mixing with AVB.

Renewed Vision ProVideoPlayer Version 2 is just months away. We get a preview.

Digico Software Updates Digico is always releasing cool new stuff. This year is no exception.

Data Video HS2800 Mobile Production Studio A slick little all-in-one video mixer, multi viewer and com system.

Bose Speaker Additions More RoomMatch boxes with asymmetrical coverage, a new dual 18″ sub and a cool dual 8″ utility speaker.

Special Mention:

Church Tech Weekly Episode 151: You Look Like Princess Leah! The podcast we recorded live in the palatial Orlando CTW studio and rental house.

Today’s post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

And by GearTechs. Technology for Worship is what they do. Audio, video and lighting; if it’s part of your worship service, and it has to do with technology, GearTechs can probably help. Great products, great advice, GearTechs.

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