Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lyrics Display

The very small church my wife and I attend is making the transition to digital, instead of printing lyric sheets for the songs we sing.  I ordered up an Epson 85HD MovieMate to satisfy several requirements:

1. Display song lyrics on a screen, instead having to print lyrics on paper.  Organizing these every week is a bit of a nuisance.

2. Useful for showing videos that are useful for Bible studies (such as The Truth Project).

3. The pastor can use it for maps and such.

I picked the Epson because our pastor is older, and not exactly computer friendly.  He wanted something that he could literally put a DVD in the unit, and have it appear on the wall--and this does that very well.  The images are sharp and bright.  (I really would have preferred one of the LED units, but I could not find one that was going to be bright enough to handle the transition to the stage where we might actually have dozens of people attending church.)

In any case, the display works great--I just plug it into the SVGA port on my notebook, and it works great.  (There were some problems with getting Ubuntu Linux to not treat the Epson as an extension of the main display, but I rebooted under Windows and everything was wonderful.)  What I am hoping for is a program that has the smarts to let me load in the stack of lyric sheets that we have in a Microsoft Word file, and then select which songs will go in this week's stack, allowing us to step through stanza by stanza with the click of a mouse.  There are ways to do this (clumsily) with Word and PowerPoint, but I suspect that someone out there is familiar with something more specific to this application.

Free is good, but if it isn't too expensive, and especially if there is some way to try before we buy, all the better.

UPDATE: This looks very promising indeed!  Open source, too.

5 comments:

Rob K said...

My church uses powerpoint. We have each song in an individual file, then each week we make a new file, by joining together the songs we're going to sing.

Nathan Mates said...

Having done computerized projection at various churches, if you're running Windows/Mac, I'd put in a plug for http://www.mediashout.com/ . Not free, but we used an older version at a previous church, and there are a bunch of features.

Advantages:
- Great searchable database of songs. Worship leader goes 'off script' and starts doing the chorus from something else? Just type the words they're singing, find the song.

- Multiple Bible translations available. Pastor starts quoting something that wasn't in the notes? Type in an address, and it's onscreen.

- I really like the templates (like style sheets) you can set up. Like CSS, set up one template, then apply it to songs/text to get a consistent theming.

- If it's in a hymnal, they've already imported the song.

Drawbacks:
- Can eat older/slower systems for lunch. (Pentium 1/2/3? Probably not going to run it) Especially if there's animated backgrounds. Not my thing, but some people love it.

- Can take a bit of time to properly enter songs. You should be organizing/entering things by structure (e.g. "verse 1" has this text, "verse 2" has other text, etc). Once you do that, you can quickly change the structure so that the chorus repeats twice then back to verse 1, per your worship leader's preferences.

I think there's a 30-day trial of Mediashout so you can see how it does. I've also used LiveWorship for Mac, and it's nowhere as good, especially in the "keep up with people going off script" department.

Minicapt said...

What's the difficulty with Powerpoint? One song per file, one stanza per slide, and with a little extra, you could include the music staves, etc.

Option two would be to set up the same in PDF files.

Cheers

Kirk Parker said...

Our church (not particularly small) has used both Mediashout and Easyworship. It looks like OpenLP is going to do a pretty good job for the right price, though!

Minicapt,

If you ask "what's the difficulty with Powerpoint", then I'm assuming you've never used these other products and/or been working in this environment. What do you do with PPT when there are real-time changes?

Kevin said...

We had used several generations of PowerPoint but a new youth minister talked us into MediaShout several years ago.

I agree with Nathan, the program is extremely nice. Considering the ease with which you can insert video clips (including camera feeds), motion backgrounds, powerpoint decks, text files, scriptures, etc, it's a bargain.

I've done some script development with it for some special projects but my normal role is running the slides during the Sunday morning assembly. Try the other options first, because if you use the 30 day trial be prepared to use your credit card before it runs out, it's that good.

Kevin