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MediaShout vs. ProPresenter
I want to open up a debate on which is better suited for our church's needs, so I'll lay out the guidelines for debate, as well as some background information:
1. We have 3 campuses with multiple venues that utilize worship presentation software (Currently MediaShout)
2. One of those campuses is a mobile campus - full load in/load out each week in a school
3. All of our Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services are pre-scripted at this time, with the exception of our Wednesday youth service, which is band-driven and spirit-lead. Please note that there are currently no children's worship services at any campus.
4. We will be starting 3 children's worship services by August
5. We have to procure hardware to support these additional services, so that's not an issue
6. We can purchase a site license for whichever software package, so that's not an issue.
7. Our original campus has camera support, while the other 2 campuses do not.
So here's the deal... We will be starting a total of 3 children's worship services by August. In the expansion plan, we will be able to procure hardware to replace all existing worship computers, plus purchase the appropriate number of software licenses, etc, to support a change (if needed). There is no certainty that the children's worship services' music will be scripted as the current services are, but there is no certainty that they won't be.
We currently use MediaShout with Digital Juice Jumpbacks backgrounds for full-screen worship lyric presentations. Our sermon notes are generated in PowerPoint and are loaded into the MediaShout presentation. While animations are used in the sermon notes, it's not a big deal if we lose them.
Our operators are currently trained for MediaShout, but are able to be re-trained for any software, as they are all pretty tech-savvy in regards to computer operations.
And here are the requirements of the software:
1. We pre-load all DVD/Video content into the software, so all media is played back from the hard drive. Any DVD content is in .VOB format, while other videos are usually in MPEG/MP4 format.
2. DVD support is a must, as we author all videos to DVD standards using Apple Final Cut Pro Studio.
3. We use ffdshow codecs, included in the K-Lite Codecs, to support various video formats (thrown at us by outsiders at the last minute).
4. We show DVD-style videos (on average) once a month per campus.
5. We have used pre-authored video announcements in the past, but would like to do so on the fly, if possible. Currently we use JPG pictures in a loop. No audio support is required for the announcements.
6. We want a countdown timer to the beginning of the service on the primary screens, if possible.
7. At our original campus, we will begin to use lower-thirds, which will be played back from the presentation software. Our genlocked scan-converter and switcher will handle the keying required. We have already tested this configuration using FCP with an AJA IO LA interface.
8. One of our other campuses also has a Latino service, so Spanish-language support (Bibles, Lyrics, etc) is required. The user-interface will always be in English.
9. If possible, we would like to utilize the stage-display option of the software.
10. The 2nd and 3rd campus' files are delivered via thumb drives late in the week. There are no internet capabilities at either of these campuses.
11. We would like a centralized database, but will utilize the software in such a way that it will work in the event of a network outage.
*12. This is a wish-list item. We utilize ProTools for click-tracks and an ETC Ion lighting console in our original campus. We'd like to setup an interface (MIDI, etc) on all of them that could sync the playback of lighting cues, videos, and audio tracks. We do this at least 3 times a year, and we get pretty interesting looks from people wondering why the majority of the media crew is wearing headphones at the start of a song (listening to the click tracks to trigger the effects accordingly)... (we are actually doing this this coming Sunday) Again, this item is a wish-list item.
Other side notes:
We currently use MediaShout 3.5, but we also own 4.0. It was purchased at a special rate prior to the release date, but failed to meet our expectations upon initial release (too many bugs). Since then, MediaShout has released numerous updates that have resolved the majority of those issues. Due to hardware requirements (video cards/processors) that we don't meet yet, we have not switched to 4.0 until we evaluate ProPresenter, since either choice will require the purchase of new hardware. We are not happy with the new MediaShout 4.0 interface, but can look past it for it's functionality.
Our original campus network infrastructure utilizes Windows 2008 Servers with Apple file system support. We have 4 staff members who utilize Macs already, as well as an editing Mac for FCP. Integration into the network isn't a big issue.
While we have evaluated both MediaShout 4.0 and ProPresenter 4.0, it's best to hear from other end-users on their experience with these packages and how they will (or will not) work best for us.
Based on this information, which worship presentation software would you recommend and why? Please be specific (if possible).
Have you looked at Easyworship at all? I've been on Media Shout for 5 years and I may be making the switch to EW2009. I like what Media Shout 4 offers but the user interface it terrible... I think it is anyway...I'm sure I can use to it, but compared to 3.5, 4.0 just looks more complicated than it has to be.
Song Show Plus and Pro Presenter have the most flexibility regarding video editing and playback. Both programs include built in video editing features with SSP having the most advanced options in the industry due to the built in ripfx engine. SSP and pro presenter also include customizable timers for countdowns. No video timers need to be purchased.
Both SSP and Pro Presenter include an alpha keyer live video module to run lower thirds with no latency. Internal keying not external keying. With SSP you can use all of the pro style 3d video effects for your lower thirds like you see on tv. Images or words animating off the screen and on the fly control of the lower third background. Each programs live video solution is very cost affective due to not needing some external hardware.
Although we author using MS 4, we present using 3.5 for the same reasons you have.
If you go ProPresenter, you are also making another hardware commitment - actually a bigger one than MS-required hardware upgrades. I have no objection to Macs or Pro Presenter. They are a nice package. Just look at the training, IT support, and other potential costs beyond the initial hard costs.
Who currently handles IT for your facilities? Do they also support Macs? That kind of stuff.
Renewed Vision has announced a Windows version of Pro Presenter due out sometime this summer. So its still an option even if you don't want to switch platforms. We switched from Media Shout 3.5 and our volunteers love it, to a person they all comment on how much easier and user friendly it is.
Have a blessed day,
For multiple campuses, you should really look hard at ProPresenter - and all their other solutions - Pro Video Player, and Pro Video Sync. For disclosure, we went from Media Shout to ProPresenter, and though we've had our problems... happy with ProPresenter - especially version 4. Check out their website, for sure.
ddsnodgrass: I agree. They completely took away the "clean" look of 3.5. I absolutely cannot stand the 4.0 look, especially when you use more real estate to do simple things (like the firebox) when the menubar did that efficiently. I have a hard enough time as it is using 15-17" monitors in 3.5, let alone 4.0.
I'll have to take a look at SSP to see how it compares with the rest.
Maybe I can give a little more insight, as we've just finished up yet another meeting that further defines our needs going forward...
For the children's worship services that we are starting, they are primarily worship-leader driven utilizing worship presentation software (PPT, MediaShout, etc) with some DVD clips thrown in to help support. These clips are more drama-based and will be interwoven in the service order. While there are some times that the worship itself will be driven from the DVD, most of the lyrics will be computer generated.
As far as the IT support, that's not an issue. I'm the primary IT person, with a secondary staff member who supports the infrastructure as well. Our part-time media specialist is also Mac friendly. We already have a few Macs integrated into the network, utilizing Active Directory logins and all. I do like the ability to get something like a Mac Mini and have it all in a small package that I can rackmount for the portable campus.
We have 3 campuses that are not interconnected with any infrastructure on a technological level. All the offices are located at one of the three campuses, so all media is packaged for all campuses at a central location. With the exception of 1 Sunday service, all other services will be band/worship leader driven. The 1 service is completely scripted, as an orchestra and choir is involved.
On a separate side note, we also have laptops that we would like to run the software from, even if only from time-to-time. The laptops (either Mac or Windows) don't have to fully support all the bells and whistles (moving backgrounds plus fading text), but they should support basic functions (dumbed down to PPT levels).
The current feedback has been helpful, and any additional input is welcomed.
One other tidbit, ProPresenter has a sync function, such that you can synchronize all of your individual machines up and down (or only up or only down) to a central database.
Also, the stage display on ProPresenter has a lot of flexibility, including the ability to send direct messages to the stage display only, and the ability to put a clock as well as elapsed time and a countdown timer on the stage display.
A ProPresenter site license will give you the Mac version as well as the windows version, which is currently in public beta and available now for immediate use (though not recommended for a live environment yet).
Presentation Software and Equipment that works with it.
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