As of July 2013, the church has transitioned through three different software packages. Originally, in the late 1990s/early 2000s, the first program the church utilised was Presenter. At some point in 2007/2008, the church migrated to EasyWorship. Both products were PC/Windows based and as of August 2013, the promise remains unfulfilled by the developers of EasyWorship – to deliver a Mac version of their product – an undertaking first publicised in 2009.
The migration from Presenter to EasyWorship was originally based on the then competitive advantage offered by EasyWorship in handling multimedia, specifically video clips. Performance and stability issues with EasyWorship since late 2012 led to the acquisition (XBOP donation) of an iMac in March 2013, only to discover the lack of Mac compatibility as mentioned above. Thus, an interim period between March and July 2013 ensued where the iMac was configured to operate as a dual-boot via Bootcamp running Windows 7.
A series of issues afflicted the iMac/bootcamp operation of EasyWorship in early July whereby on 21 July 2013, a site license for ProPresenter was finally made. Some of the technical challenges experience in mid 2013 included the need to constantly convert videos from one format to another format which was “compatible” with EasyWorship. However, the worst issues experienced involved EasyWorship freezing when switching to PowerPoint/Windows Explorer to access files. On one occasion, this happened during service (during a sermon) and we had to switch behind-the-scenes to the Asus laptop, which offered a complete backup.
The 10am service on Sunday 28 July was the inaugural service run by ProPresenter and everything ran smoothly with one exception – the sermon slides had been imported using the third setting “Import Text and Graphics Objects as ProPresenter Slide Elements”. This import setting created undesirable effects in the way the sermon slides manifested and unfortunately, due to lack of time, a thorough check did not detect the anomalies.
ProPresenter now operates under a registered site license, along with the Multiscreen Module, purchased specifically for the iMac machine. This module enables full utilisation of the Matrox TripleHead2Go device, whereby the output of all 3 screens is applied to each of the 3 FOH projectors. Adding in a second MiniDisplayPort-VGA adaptor (which connects to a fourth VGA input on the Kramer video switch) provides us with the Stage Display capability. Customisation and configuration are all important aspects to unlocking the potential of ProPresenter and referral to both the online training videos has proven invaluable.
Migration of the song library/database from EasyWorship to ProPresenter was achieved via the installation and operation of EasySearch, a third-party developed tool specific for searching and exporting songs out of the single EasyWorship database file into song-specific text files. Technically I did this on an off-site PC since I had earlier copied the EasyWorship database files onto a USB, but that point is not so relevant.
ProPresenter was fully worked out during its second Sunday service of operation – a Pre-Service video clip kicked off the service/playlist, and the playlist featured a total of 4 different video clips, 3 worship songs and 2 distinct presentations. Unfortunately the guest speaker sermon slides (59 after flattening all animations) had been provided in PDF format which presented insurmountable challenges for converting to PowerPoint or JPGs… In the end, after consultation, we simplified the sermon slides to three in total. Some of the new seamless capabilities we utilised that day included:
- Slide cues for media backgrounds
- Slide cues on multiple slides to switch between multiscreen output positions
- Slide transitions with “Go To Next Timer…” for post-service announcements
- Stage Display customised with Current Slide & Next Slide visible side-by-side
Basic integration with a free account of Planning Center Online (PCO) has also extended the capability of ProPresenter by enabling (for now) the church worship leaders to make their song selections and have them ready in the PCO environment. Adding in a PCO Playlist to ProPresenter and watching the system link up songs in the library makes the job of set-up on a Sunday morning slightly easier. In time, if full arrangements are mapped out in advance, it will further help reduce guess-work that is currently the norm during a service.
October 2014 update
With OS X Yosemite officially released we have taken a leap of faith and upgraded the iMac to Yosemite. This was performed on Wednesday 22 October and since then one Sunday of services have successfully been held without incident.
The additional wireless networking capability of ProPresenter is discussed on the Video Infrastructure page.
Click here to return to the main Church Worship Technology page.