Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Category: Presentations (Page 3 of 7)

CTW InfoComm 2013 Coverage: Renewed Vision ProVideoPlayer

ProVideoPlayer is the first product Renewed Vision wrote for Mac OSX. It’s been around a while and needed a refresh. And refresh they did! With all kinds of new capability, PVP will no doubt again be the favorite for environmental projection and digital signage. Learn more at the Road To PVP 2 website.

Today’s post is brought to you by the Roland R-1000. The R-1000 is a multi-channel recorder/player ideal for the V-Mixing System or any MADI equipped console or environment. Ideal for virtual sound checks, multi-channel recording, and playback.

CTW NAB 2013 Coverage: Renewed Vision ProVideoServer

ProVideoServer is the newly enhanced and upgraded edition of ProVideoSync. Re-built from the ground up to be a robust, media server, it can play out up to 4 HD streams at once, either synch’ed up or not. The interface is Renewed Vision easy, and the feature set pretty sound. Learn more at the Renewed Vision website.

Today’s post is brought to you by Planning Center Resources. Never overbook again! Check events to see which resources have been reserved. Room setups and custom questions give you all the answers you need in a simple glance. Room Setups: Every individual room page has a new Room Setups section. Add different room setups each with their own image and description on how each room can be setup. When they reserve the room the first thing they are asked is which setup they’d like. This is especially helpful if your rooms serve multiple purposes. For more information, visit Planning Center Resources.

Using Keynote Master Slides

One of my favorite things about Keynote it that Master Slides actually work. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in PowerPoint only to be forever frustrated with their master slides. Sometimes they worked like I expected, sometimes they didn’t work at all. When I got my first copy of Keynote a few years ago, it was life-changing. It occurred to me that some people might be out there duplicating slides and changing text instead of simply using masters so I thought I’d run through a quick example or two on how we use them.

You probably know that we use ProPresenter for all our presentation to screen. However, we use Keynote extensively to create many of the slides that end up there. The most obvious use is for sermon notes. We have a wonderfully talented designer that produces all of our themed graphics, and part of that package is a notes background. I take that background, drop it into my Keynote masters (most of which simply have to be tweaked from series to series) and the presentation operators make the graphics. Here’s how it works.

The first step is to create a presentation that matches your screen resolution—we use 1280×720 for our main screen. You can start with any of the Apple-supplied templates, but I recommend the basic white or black background. That will give you what you need without a lot of extras you don’t. Next you’ll need to view the Master Slides.

From the "View" icon, chose Show Master Slides.From the “View” icon, chose Show Master Slides.Once you have them in the sidebar, you can select them and start editing. Nearly every master slide will include a Title Text and a Body Text box. Those become the basis for my masters. You can change the fonts, shadow, color, position, size of the bounding box and a host of other options. New in iWork 09 is a checkbox that will auto-shrink text in a text box to fit the confines of the box. This can be a great help for scripture slides.

I have created a whole series of masters that accommodate almost any likely sermon note slide request. And when a new one does come up, I’ll make a new master for it. I create a current series Keynote master file that I lock in Finder so our presentation volunteers don’t accidentally over-write it. If I have to add a master or tweak it, I simply unlock it, make the changes and re-lock. We save a new Keynote file every week.

Every time we change series, I drop the new background it the masters slides. I first delete the old one (no sense having it in there slowing things down), paste the new one in, then send it to back. I’ll make any text position, format and color changes to match the design and we’re done. I recommend hiding the Master slides once you’re done editing. It’s way too easy to select one when you’re building a show and think you’re creating a slide when you’re actually editing a master. Don’t ask me how I know this.

In use, masters couldn’t be easier. When you click on the + button, a new slide is created. From the Masters menu, choose your template.

We'll select a template, in this case Scripture.We’ll select a template, in this case Scripture.Once the slide is created, you simply double click each text box to edit. You can type whatever you need to in each box, though I find that time-consuming and error-prone. Since our pastor normally sends us a Word document with his slides, we simply copy and paste—with a twist. If you copy text from a Word file, for example, it’s likely to be 12 pt. Times. When you paste that into your master text block it will appear as…12 pt. Times. What gives? I thought masters worked in Keynote? They do, but you need to paste correctly.

Once you double-click on the text box, Right-click and select “Paste and Match Style” from the dialog box. That will format your pasted text exactly the way the master text box is formatted. Perfect!

The key to cutting and pasting.The key to cutting and pasting.Once you get a good library of Master Slides, it takes but minutes to get the sermon notes formatted and ready for the screen. Once we’re done creating the slides in Keynote, we export them as JPG files, import them into ProPresenter and display them from there. We could also play out from Keynote, but I like the easy, random access ProPresenter affords in case the sermon changes.

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.

Presentation: Cuing Slow Songs—Remix

On Monday, I re-posted my updated version of cuing fast songs. Today we’ll get to slow songs. As I reviewed the original post from 3 years ago, I decided that my cues should happen earlier than they did. So in the good examples, I’ve re-positioned the cues to where I think they should go now. I’ve also tweaked the measure counting to make it easier to follow.

OK, we’re back at it again with another example of cuing slide lyrics for songs. This time, we’ll tackle a slower song, You Alone from David Crowder’s The Lime CD. This song is tricky not because it moves so fast, but because it moves so slow. There needs to be a balance between getting the lyrics up at the right time and changing them in a musical fashion.

Changing slides (or switching cameras for that matter) in a musical manner is one of the hardest things to teach. I would go so far as to say that some people will never “get it.” It takes being able to count, almost instinctively, and know the music well enough that you can stay ahead without being obnoxious.

Let’s start off with a not so good example. This is how the song might be cued by someone who doesn’t really know the song, or have a good understanding of how it needs to move musically. Sorry it’s over 2 min, it’s a slow song.

What you can see from that is the slides lagged behind every time. Again, this fragments worship, and causes those in attendance to sing, stop, jump in, stop, etc. It’s not smooth or easy. Also notice there was a four bar bridge in which the previous verse just hung on the screen. This is confusing for people. We expect that if there are words on the screen, we will be singing them, if not right this second, sometime soon. Yet, here we are with a 15 second interlude with the words hanging there like old wallpaper. Not ideal.

So what’s the remedy? First, as always, we need to stay ahead of the game. Second, there should be a blank slide inserted between the two verses. In our example here, I’m using a black background. In real life, I would have some type of photographic/graphic background behind the words, and we’d go to that. Let’s run another example with my suggested cuing points.

Hopefully, you notice the difference. The real question is how do you decide where to cue a slow-moving song like that? For the answer to that question, we need to dive into a little music theory. First you need to know that songs are broken up in to measures (or bars). Each measure has a specific number of beats in it. This song is written in 6/8 time.  This means that each measure is made up of 6 eight notes, and the beat happens on 1 and 4.As you listen to the song, you can count along; 1,2,3,4,5,6; 2,2,3,4,5,6; 3,2,3,4,5,6; 4,2,3,4,5,6. That represents 4 measures. I change the first number in each sequence to remind me where I am. As you can see, I wrote this incorrectly the first time which just proves that I really didn’t pay much attention during music theory class. Thanks to Keith for helping me get it right.

Just like video editing of music numbers, visual changes should happen on the beat (I can’t stand music videos that are not cut to the beat, they’re so jarring). With a song moving this slowly, it’s easy to change on the 4th beat of a measure and still have the slide up at the right time.

Here’s another example with some beat markers thrown in to illustrate the point. Note that the song actually has an 8 bar intro, and I’m just showing you 4. The top number is the measure number, the bottom is the beat within that measure.

This is where taking a few minutes to talk to the worship leader (and even better, listen to the songs ahead of time) comes in very handy. If you know that a song has a 4-bar intro, you can count right along and get the words up just before the lyrics start. If there is a 4-bar instrumental between verse 1 and verse 2, you know to put a blank in and count along. I will often even label my blanks “4-bar Instrumental” so I remember.

Someone asked last week what the rule for blank slides is. I’m not sure there is a rule, but my general practice is if it’s 2 bars or more, I’ll throw in a blank over an instrumental. This particular song has a 1-bar break between the first and second phrases of the verse, and when I played with it, it seemed more disruptive to dip to a blank, then come back 3 beats later. But for the 4 bar, a blank is a definite improvement.

Again, these are not hard and fast rules, but they should give you some guidance on best practices. Every song is a little different and can be interpreted a few different ways. The goal, however, needs to be a seamless appearance of lyrics at the right time that feels like it’s connected to the music. Get that right, and you’re one giant step closer to creating that environment of immersive and engaging worship.

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.

Presentation: Cuing Fast Songs—Remix

Back about three years ago, I wrote a few posts demonstrating how to cue lyrics for fast and slow songs. Today, I have some fairly new presentation operators that I’m training, so I was going to send them the links to those posts. Before I sent those links, I thought it would be prudent to read them and re-watch the videos to see if I still agreed with what I wrote. If found a few thigns I didn’t really like anymore. So, I re-edited the videos and am tweaking the posts. Today, we’ll revisit the fast songs, and on Wednesday we’ll take a look at slow songs. 

This is a topic that I feel pretty strongly about. Know that up front. How many times have you been in a worship service, singing a new song, and been unable to sing it because the lyrics on the screen trail the worship leader? Even if it’s a song you sort of know, it is really hard to sing along if the lyrics are not keeping up. Don’t believe me? Check it out…

This is a clip from the David Crowder song “Undignified” (I didn’t ask him if I could use it, so don’t tell him, OK? But if you find out, David, know that I have purchased all your CDs. Nothing but love here!). I have cued the lyrics the way I see a lot of people cue them. Now, even if you’ve sung this song at the top of your lungs in your car as much as I have (which is to say, a lot…), try to sing the song the way the lyrics are coming up on the screen–just as you would in church with a song you don’t know well. See how it goes.

That wasn’t too easy, now was it? The problem is simple: By the time the 1/2 second dissolve takes place, and our eyes scan back up to the first word on the new slide, he’s already onto the second line. That means we sing in fits and starts, and it’s awkward and uncomfortable. After a while, people stop singing altogether.

So how do we fix it? The answer is twofold. First, for songs this fast, I change the dissolve setting to .3 seconds (sometimes even .2). That gets the new slide up faster. Second, I cue earlier–typically in the space between the second to last and last word on the slide.

Take a look at this version and see how much easier it is to sing along with.

Here’s something that we often forget: People read a lot faster than they talk (or sing). Within a few seconds of a lyric slide hitting the screen, the audience has already read it. That’s why we can change to the next one before they’ve finished singing–they’ve already read it. By cuing the song a little early, it gives the singer a chance to get the upcoming words “in que” if you will before they need them.

Since it might be hard to see exactly when I cued those slides, I have a third version here with yellow arrows on the cue points. If I were running ProPresenter, I would hit the spacebar when we got to the arrows. Take a look.

I should also point out that in the second and third version, the first lyric slide hits the screen before David starts singing. This is important. We need to give people a second or two to get the words cued up. This can be accomplished by either A) knowing the song and arragement very well (ie. there are 8 bars of instrumental between the chorus and verse—and you know how to cound bars), or B) watching the worship leaer. Most will give a pretty clear signal that they’re getting ready to sing in a second, you just need to watch for it.

Another thing to notice that I treat two short, fast words (ie. my king) as one word and cue at the beginning of “my,” instead of “king.” The reason is simple; “my king” is sung as myking. If you wait until you get to “king,” you’ll be too late. When the song has a phrase break in it, such as between “nothing Lord is hindering this passion and my soul,” {breath} “And I’ll become…” you have a little more leeway in cuing. With those types of phrases, you can make the slide change happen during the breath.

Next time around, we’ll tackle an approach to a slower song, and learn how to cue slides in a musical and seamless manner.

Today’s post is brought to you by the Roland R-1000. The R-1000 is a multi-channel recorder/player ideal for the V-Mixing System or any MADI equipped console or environment. Ideal for virtual sound checks, multi-channel recording, and playback.

CTW WFX Coverage: ProPresenter 5

In this exlcusive video, Brad Weston walks us through some of the great new features of ProPresenter 5. Check out Planning Center integration, song grouping, the new song edit mode, video effects, slide transitions, sync features and more. It’s a bit long, but you’ll get a great feel for how ProPresenter 5 will change your workflow for the better.

CWT WFX Coverage: ProPresenter 5 from Mike Sessler on Vimeo.


Can’t see the video in your RSS reader? Click the link above.

Skype On The Big Screen

There seems to be a fair amount of interest in doing Skype calls during services lately. It seems I’ve seen 3-4 threads on doing just that in the past few months. We had to do a little Skyping today for our SVBS program; we did a video call with a woman in Kenya. While setting up a Skype call is something your grandmother can do, integrating it into your projection, video and audio setup can be a bit more challenging. Here’s how we did it.


This is perhaps the easiest of the three—getting video into Skype. While you could do it with a built-in laptop camera, the better option is to send a video feed through a video card or FireWire converter. We have a MacPro at presentation, with a Blackmagic Intensity Pro card. The Intensity Pro will input and output HDMI and Analog video, along with analog audio (and S/PDIF out). 

For our system, we sent a composite program output from our switcher (actually it was from the DA) to the Intensity card. While the card can do component, I figured composite would be good enough. We originally came straight out of camera 1’s CCU, but then realized it would be good to be able to return the audience cam to the woman in Kenya. So we switched it. That let us get a shot of the person on our end doing the talking, and add in the kids as well. Which leads to audio…


Skype audio can be tricky. No matter what audio interface you try to use, Skype will only use the first channel (or left) for input. We have an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra at presentation that we use for playback of videos and such. After playing around with a bunch of different options, we determined that we could use the Fast Track for both input and output. 

We routed Skype’s output to the M-Audio, and sent an Aux from the SD8 back in. It’s important to use an Aux (or a Matrix, or perhaps a group if you must) to send the audio to Skype to avoid feedback loops. Do not send program out or you will get feedback. We sent only the interviewer mic and a little bit of the audience mics (post fader) back to Skype.

Getting the call set up before going “live” can be tricky. You need to be able to talk to the person on Skype, and hear them before going to the house. For us, that means solo’ing up the Skype audio feed in our NS-10s at FOH to hear the caller, and using the talkback mic to talk to her. The SD8 makes it easy to assign the TB mic wherever we want, so we sent it to the Skype Aux send.

If our FOH position was closer to the audience I would probably put on cans, but because we’re in another zip code, we can get away with the speakers at low volume. And now, how do we get the Skype video feed onto the main screen?


This part really only applies if you’re using a Mac with ProPresenter (which you should be anyway…). There is no easy way to route the Skype screen to the ProPresenter output screen directly. You can’t use the “Web” function, because Skype doesn’t work that way. You need a way to get the video image from the Skype window onto a slide.

Enter a nifty little program called CamTwist. It’s a free little app that does a lot of things, but what we’re interested in is a feature called Desktop+. Desktop+ allows you to not only turn the contents of a user-definable capture window into a video feed that ProPresenter can use, but it will do it while the window is behind ProPresenter. 

So that means you can set up the call, select the area, then bring ProPresenter to the foreground and pipe CamTwist in as a live video input and voila, you have Skype on the screen. We created a slide with a background JPG and added a smaller live video window in front. So all we had to do to take Skype to the screen is to hit that slide. Easy.

Of course, if you had even a semi-decent switcher feeding your main screen this is pretty easy. But we don’t, so we make do with this. One thing to keep in mind is that the order you launch programs is important. 

You must first launch Skype, then CamTwist, then ProPresenter. If Pro starts up before CamTwist, it won’t recognize the CamTwist input and you’ll get a blank screen. Also, Skype audio can be funky; play with it a lot to make sure you get the settings right before trying it out during a service. We found that sometimes we just had to re-start Skype to get a setting change to stick.

So there you go. That’s how we do a Skype call to the main screen.

This 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.

ProPresenter Organization

Someone asked me if I would share our organizational structure for our ProPresenter machine. I’m happy to do so, but it should be noted that the overall system isn’t original to me. Most of it was in place before I arrived at Coast, and because it worked so well, we’ve only made minor tweaks.

Let me start with some perspective. In our Main Auditorium, we run Pro4 on a MacPro. We have a great Communications Director named Ken Hammond who produces most of our graphics for the weekend (save the sermon notes; those are made on Saturday in Keynote by the presentation tech). Ken has a MacPro in his office to create on. We also have a media server on our network that acts as the storage hub and archive of weekend graphics.

Inside the media server, we have a folder labeled Weekend GFX & Videos. Inside that folder is a folder for each year. Inside each year is a folder for, you guessed it, each weekend.

As you can see, the most recent weekend is loose, while the _2011 Archive contains all previous weekends for the year.

Inside each weekend folder, we have two additional folders; Pre Roll & Verbals. Every week, Ken pulls together all the slides needed for the walk-in pre service loop and puts them in the Pre Roll folder. All the slides for the announcements (read live during the service) go in the Announcements folder. To make sure we always have the right slides in the presentations, every week we delete any existing slides from the PreRoll and Verbals (the shortened form of Announcements) presentations, and drag the entire contents of those folders into their respective presentations. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s a peak inside this weekend folder. I know…Diapers Pics…we collected 40,000 diapers for a couple of local ministries. You’ll also see two videos and our new series theme graphic.

On the Pro4 MacPro, we have a similar structure. At the root of the hard drive, we have a folder called Keynote (a holdover from the days when they actually used Keynote for presentation). Inside we have the same folder structure as on the media server. Each weekend, the presentation tech copies the weekend folder from the media server to the local HD, leaving it loose inside the Keynote folder. We keep the current weekend folder loose in the Keynote folder as we are in and out of there a lot on any given Saturday. The previous weekend’s folder is filed away in the appropriate archive.

Once the files are local, they are dragged into the appropriate presentations. Also in the folder on the media server might be a video or two, and any other special graphics that might be needed for the weekend. As Ken prepares for the weekend, he’ll file the previous weekend’s folder in the archive on the server. It’s all quite orderly.

Once everything is in ProPresenter, we have a simple system for keeping things organized. Of course we have a complete library of songs that we sing on a regular basis. We keep this library pretty clean and purge it once or twice a year. To my way of thinking, it’s so easy to pull in new songs, there’s no sense in letting the library get into the thousands of songs. If we do a song once, it will live in the library for a while, but if we don’t do it again in six months or so, we kick it to the curb.

Each weekend, we create a new Keynote file for the sermon graphics. That file goes in the local weekend folder in a folder called Message. When the slides are created, they are exported to that message folder with the clever name of message.XXX.jpg. ProPresenter will auto-sort the slides when we drag it into the Message presentation (that has already been purged of last week’s slides).

Our Presentation Coordinator, Monica Castorena, will typically create the templates for each series. She picks out a collection of backgrounds that can be used for the songs and makes up a playlist for them in the Backgrounds/Video tab. Our presentation techs can then pull from those backgrounds for songs. They can also apply a template that works with the background. Usually, she’ll create 2-3 templates per series to work with the varying backgrounds. Again, we try to keep the template menu pretty sparse; having too many is just confusing and we like to minimize confusion.

We have a Weekend playlist and a MidWeek playlist. Those get updated each week with the new songs; though on the weekend, we always use the same playlist for verbals and pre-roll (the slides always all change, however).

Getting back to our image library, we have a huge library locally on the MacPro, and have that organized by image type. Sometimes Monica will pull a collection of backgrounds from there, other times she’ll buy new images. Either way, we typically only populate the library in Pro4 with images we are using for the current series. Each series lasts 8-10 weeks or more, so we’re not moving stuff in and out a lot.

So that’s pretty much it. It’s not particularly magical, nor is it hard to implement. But it is elegant and effective. It’s easy to find things, and we have a high degree of consistency. We also have shortcuts in the sidebar to each folder to make things easier to get to.

This 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.

ProPresenter 4 Workflow Tips

While running ProPresenter this past weekend, I was reminded again of how much I like that program. Both powerful and easy to use, ProPresenter 4 gets words on the screen like nothing else. I haven’t written about Pro in a while, and I thought it was time to revisit the topic.

The first thing you’ll notice about ProPresenter at Coast Hills is that the songs are all color-coded. As you probably know by now, I’m a bit CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order), and I like to keep things organized. There are a few features in Pro that help facilitate that. 

Click for largerAs you can see in the screen shot above, each element of the song is colored differently. I developed this method at Upper Room while I was TD there. Our worship leaders there had the tendency to randomly jump around in the song. To make it easier when they looped back to a chorus, I color-coded each element. There’s nothing significant about the colors, it’s just what I chose.

  • Blue=Verse
  • Purple=Chorus
  • Pink=Pre-Chorus
  • Orange=Bridge
  • Yellow=Blank (or instrumental)
  • Red=Tag
  • Black=Blackout
  • Green=Anything else

At Coast, our worship leaders are really quite good about sticking to the order they rehearse in. Still, it’s nice to have a quick visual reference of where we are in the song, simply by looking at the colors. 

You’ll also notice that each slide is labeled with the part of the song it represents. Songs with multiple slides in each verse would be named like this:

  • Verse 1-A
  • Verse 1-B
  • Verse 2-A
  • Verse 2-B

If there is a single verse, chorus or bridge, I just use A, B, C, etc.. The reason go to this level of labeling is to ease moving songs parts around. I found when dealing with volunteers who don’t do this every week, it’s best to keep things as organized as possible. Because there can be a lot of slides for a song, it’s easy to accidentally get a few of them out of order and not realize it. Labeling them not only by what section they are (verse 1, chorus 2, etc.) but by each slide helps make sure everything stays organized.

It used to be a little tedious to color code and label each slide. In Pro4, we have the ability to build a custom label menu that includes color coding. So while it took me 5-10 minutes to set up, I can now completely label a song in under a minute.

Again, you can see my CDO coming out in the organization of the menu. They also include an “Other…” option if you have a very unusual section, or if you like to make notes. I use the Other… label a lot to write a note about how long an instrumental bridge might be (8 bars). That keeps the  operators from bringing the next slide up too early.

Those are a few of my favorite, or at least most useful features of Pro4. What tricks and tips do you have to share with the class?

Today’s post is brought to you by the Roland R-1000. The R-1000 is a multi-channel recorder/player ideal for the V-Mixing System or any MADI equipped console or environment. Ideal for virtual sound checks, multi-channel recording, and playback.

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