Thursday, September 20, 2007

choosing the right background elements for your songs

OK, here is something that I needed to learn early on and that is, Cutesy nature video backgrounds no longer fit in with today's post modern culture. Now that may have been a mouthful but remember, who are we trying to reach anyway? If you are trying to stay at status quo, then the Cutesy stuff will do just fine. Grandma loves the nature things anyway, they would go good with "how great thou art", and 'bringing in the sheaves", but by the time the speaker got up to deliver the word, most of your audience would be asleep, or at the very least, disconnected. Now the old timers would have had their emotional experience, but was that really worship?
I read Pastor Chris' blog with a similar question. But leaving theological issues on the side, (mainly because I am the least qualified of anyone to discus theology with), I will stick with what I know, have learned or am learning, some backgrounds do a good job of capturing the attention of the audience even if subtly, but many don't, and several are just distracting at best. So back to the idea of present; A good background element is usually a movie, or animation file that has been created, exported, or saved using QuickTime pro so that it doesn't have the loop chop that most mpegs's seem to be plagued with and also, so you can edit the clip and remove distinctive start and stop points so you get as clean of a loop as possible.

OK,now start up propresenter... **quick side note... If you recently upgraded to the greatest and latest version of propresenter, the new version has created a new directory for it to sit in and you will need to create a new alias for the program so that you are launching the right version. If you have propresenter in your dock, remove the link by dragging it to the trash, and open your applications folder, find the new one (use the list so the dates are shown) find the correct application and drag its icon onto the dock, it will create a quick launch there and you are ready to go with the new version.
OK back to the thoughts at hand, You really need to have background elements that compliment the songs and also keep a good rhythm with it. If the tempo of the background is too slow or fast, it becomes a distraction, rather than a compliment to the song. So experiment with several before choosing. The background elements section where the library is stored has a playlist function where you can set up a playlist distinctively for your service and I recommend using it. Then find a group of background element video's that you are considering using for the song and while holding the apple key down, drag the background element into the playlist and a shortcut to the element appears in the list. This helps keep things organized so that there are no unnecessary distractions during the presentation of the show. Make sure you have a background element playing by clicking on it and then click through the song while either the band is playing it or a music file with the song is playing so you can evaluate the background element and see if several considerations are met.
1. can you still read the lyrics of the song over the top of the background element? white words work best, but a white or light background would make it very difficult to ready the lyrics during the song.
2. does the tempo of the background come close to that of the song? this may seem unimportant, but in practice, you will find that it does help your audience stay in rhythm and it compliments the band at the same time.
3. does it loop cleanly? if it is too choppy at the end or beginning then it will no longer compliment the song but will draw attention to itself and become a distraction. If possible, edit the background to clean up the detractors parts and see if the loop can become almost unnoticeable.
4. when at all possible do not use the same background for every song, every week, this would become very boring and monotonous, and your audience would dis-engage.

Another note about the new version of propresenter to keep an eye on is the GUI (graphic user interface) changes that they made.
It has been with the previous versions that the keyboard shortcuts like the arrow keys would affect the foreground elements only, so while you where scrolling through your background elements with the wheel on your mouse, you could right arrow into the next slide and the next slide would go up on the screen, this no longer is the case. whichever section of the layout you are working with has taken the focus of the system you are using. this means that if you are working in the background elements folder and you click the right arrow, the next background in line will become active instead of the next slide changing. and if you are looking through your song playlist, the same applies, and to get back the focus of the system to the foreground elements section, you have to click in the area somewhere, wither by clicking over the next slide with the mouse, or a blank spot in that section so that the panel is active again, then the arrow keys will become functional for that area again. I think that this "improvement" is a royal pain in the kiester but can't do anything about it except deal with it.

So anyway, most of the other improvements that they did to the program seem worth the effort, so It mainly is just getting used to the new responses from the program. and to try and get used to them at a time other than during a presentation.
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