Archives For Audio/Video

I'm thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.

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If you check out most church bulletins and most church websites, you will find plenty of cheesy photos and clipart. Lightstock is a great resource for your church for cheesy-free photos and videos. I really like the quality on their site. They are one of my partners here on my blog and I wanted to share more about their site. Keep reading to find out how you can receive 10 free credits.

The following article is from Jonathan Bailey. Co-founder @Lightstock. Board member @Renovareusa. Follow him @jonathanrbailey

5 REASONS TO SAY ‘NO’ TO CHEESY PHOTOS

Have a design project around the corner? Let me share 5 quick reasons to say ‘NO’ to cheesy photos.

1. Say no to photos that are void of creativity.

The definition of creative is: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Unleashing the imagination to create something original is what I’m talking about. If you’re not engaging your imagination in a deep and meaningful way then don’t even bother.

2. Say no to photos that look touristy.

Composition is key. Composition means the art of putting things together. Think of yourself as a Culinary artist bringing unique ingredients together to serve up a delicious meal. Your ingredients include the subject, negative space, lighting, focal
length, etc. The quickest way to break the back of crummy-composition is to get on the ground with your camera and start start shooting. Unique vantage points always help eliminate the cheese.

3. Say no to photos that look like they were taken in the 80s.

Avoid hyper trends and fashions in your photography. Especially a really dated wardrobe from your subjects. And if you’re going to shoot something out of Biblical times, make sure the costuming actually matches the time period. You need heavy wools that are ragged and torn. Not just a white table cloth and a piece of twine. Pay attention to wardrobe.

4. Say no to photos that mix lighting.

Don’t mix! When it comes to photography there are two basic types of light: natural light (sunlight) and artificial light (flashes/studio lights). Make sure that if you’re inside you turn the lights off and take the shot next to some big windows. Or if you want artificial lights then black out the windows. This will give you a consistent look. And lastly and most important…

5. Say no to photos that show little thoughtfulness or care.

Simply put, they’re lazy. They don’t take into consideration the intelligence of the audience. Jony Ive, creative mastermind at Apple, described this principle when talking about the Apple products he designs. “We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects”, says Ive. “It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.” Thoughtfulness and care take time and energy. When you sit down to shoot or design, think about your end-user. How does your creation add value to their life?

 

Free Stuff Alert: Here’s 10 Free Credits to Lightstock

I’m thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.

Click Here to Signup and Get the 10 Free Credits

If you use stock photos in your designs or blog posts then Lightstock is something you should definitely check out.

Use the discount code faithengineer for 25% off! Click here to purchase

padloops

As a former youth pastor, I remember years ago trying to lead worship with my Spin360 accompaniment tracks and an acoustic guitar (I’m showing my age here!). Since we didn’t have a full band, I would play the CD and just play along with the music. So when I found about Worship Pad Loops from Shalon Palmer, I was interested in trying them out.

Worship Pad Loops are pre-recorded keyboard tracks that you can play along with. There are versions for each different song key. They provide a full sound that you can incorporate into your band if you don’t have a keyboard, or just play along with on your guitar. They also work great as transitions between songs during worship. They can even be used as background tracks for videos.

I tried these out one day with one of our musicians who was recording several songs and the loops sounded great. We decided not to use them for the project he was working on, but I do think we will use these in the future. They can be used with songs of any tempo, and since they are based on the root of the key you are playing in, you can play them throughout the entire song. You can include these on a computer or an iPod since each loop is a 20 minute mp3 song. As with most products, the best way to understand this is to watch a video of it being used.

These work great for most songs, but remember if there is a key change or if the bridge gets a little crazy, they may sound out of place. I am interested in using them during times of reflection and prayer during special services at our church. The sound is just right to provide some ambiance without being distracting. The set is $29.99 for all 12 mp3 files for each key. And if you use the code faithengineer, you will receive 25% off.

From their website:

The Worship Pad Loops plays a mixture of professional studio recorded ambient pad sounds and guitar swells that remain in harmony or on the root of the key you are in.

One of the favorite uses of the Pad Loops is for songwriting. For 2 big reasons. One is that playing the loop in the key you’re writing in gives you a constant reference that you can sing along with, without having to be playing an instrument. Two is that these pad loops are so spectacularly awesome at creating ambience, that you’ll be in meditation mode creating a musical masterpiece in seconds.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of these loops to try out and review. I provide honest reviews and only recommend products that I believe in and use. See my full disclosure policy here.

WMC-LOGO

For the last few days, I have been trying out a new worship software package called Worship Media Creator. It creates video announcements, video countdowns, and custom backgrounds for worship. It also can function as worship presentation software in a pinch. The software is from the guys at SermonGear.com, and it can save you time if you are creating videos for your church. Here is a breakdown of what it can do:

With the Worship Media Creator, you can:

  • Build Customized Countdowns that animates to your music
  • Make video announcements in minutes
  • Create your own worship background loops, or add your own media library
  • Use built in templates to spread your message
  • Export your presentation to a video file to use in your existing projection setup, or project it live!
  • Share your projects and creativity with other churches

If you have ever tried to create your own countdown video, you will truly appreciate how quick and easy it is to create one in this program. This software really appeals to people who are intimidated by complex software, but it still has more than enough features for power users. However, it won’t magically turn someone with no graphic or video design skills into a professional. You still need a good understanding of gradients, shadows, colors, and fonts to use this program effectively.

The best way to understand a software package is to see it in action. They have a great video tutorial page, and you can even download a free trial version to check it out. Here are a couple of videos that show you how the software works.

Keep reading to see more examples and to see my final thoughts.

Continue Reading…

Gear Update: AppleTV

December 7, 2012 — Leave a comment
This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Gear Update

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I wanted to share the latest piece of gear that I have picked up for our church. Last week, I bought an AppleTV. This is a tiny little box that hooks directly to a TV or projector via a HDMI cable. It allows you to stream media from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer, and it is simple to setup and use. Here are a few things we plan on using it for.

  1. DIgital Signage - This is a great device to run digital signage. I needed something to run a TV that we can place in the front window of our church. You can either stream photos from a flickr account or send a movie file to the device. I made a presentation using Apple Keynote using both slides, animations, and videos, and then exported the presentation as a quicktime movie file. I added the movie file to an iTunes playlist, and then just set the Apple TV to loop the playlist. It’s a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to run digital signage without an additional computer.
  2. Movies – AppleTV supports iTunes movie rentals, Hulu, and Netflix, all straight from the device for your next youth or children’s movie night.
  3. Music - If you have iTunes Match, your entire music library is available from the cloud. If you have computers on the same network, you can access all of their music using Home Sharing. You could also stream music from your iOS device using Pandora or Spotify.
  4. Small Group Videos – We have a subscription to Rightnow Media, and with the AppleTV, we can play all of our small group videos directly from an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer and use Airplay to wirelessly send video to the TV or Projector.
  5. Games and Live Video – The AppleTV gives you the ability to mirror the display on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad. So imagine an Angry Birds tournament shown on the big screen, or even switch to the camera app and show live video on the screen from your iPhone. You could show your YouVersion or Glo app on the screen and let students or adults follow along as you read the Bible. And you now have a digital whiteboard that can be shown straight from an iPad screen.

All of this is for under $100. You can even pick up a refurbished model from Apple for under $90. For that amount of money, this is a good investment for any church. After using it for a few days, I plan on getting one for home as well. It really works great. Click the picture below for more info on how the AppleTV works.

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WHM Christmas 12DaysHeader

If you use video clips during church, you’ll want to take advantage of this offer from WorshipHouseMedia. Each year, they offer some of their best stuff for free during Christmas. You’ll want to check the site to see what they make available each day. You have to get it on that day, but it’s worth your time and effort. Check it out at www.worshiphousemedia.com/twelvedays

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Music in the Cloud

June 19, 2012 — 5 Comments

I’ve been trying to sync all my music across computers, iPods, iPads, and phones over the last few days. I’ve also been using the three major cloud music players; Google Music, Amazon Cloud Player, and iTunes Match. Cloud music players allow you to store your music on someone else’s server, so you can access your music from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection. Google, Amazon, and Apple all have their own solutions, and each have their advantages and disadvantages. I just wanted to share with you what I’ve learned and experienced.

Google Music

Google Music allows you to store up to 20,000 songs on Google’s servers for free. They have a program that runs in the background on your home computer and uploads all of your music. This obviously takes a while, but once your music is uploaded, you can access it from any web browser or from your android phone.  The Google Play Music app on your android is a decent music app that gives you access to all your uploaded music from your phone.  Plus it automatically makes all of your music purchases from the Google Play store automatically available on Google Music.  Here are my thoughts

  • Your music is uploaded automatically. Everything is really simple and you don’t even know it’s running in the background
  • Unfortunately, they make it really hard to download the music from the player. It’s possible, but it’s not intuitive
  • The Android app is really lacking in features. I like DoubleTwist much better
  • You can share music through Google+, but I still don’t know anyone that is heavily using Google+
  • This is my least favorite of the three and the least polished

Amazon Cloud Player

The Amazon Cloud Player gives you immediate access to your music that has been purchased through the Amazon mp3 store. I’ve been using the Amazon store for a long time, so I was excited when they came out with their service. They usually have the cheapest price on new music, and they offer the music in the mp3 format which works on all devices. They have both an iPhone app and an Android app, and you can also access the music from the web. Here are my thoughts.

  • This is the best app for cross platform compatibility. It works great on iPods, iPads, Androids, and computers
  • They offer 5Gig of music storage for free and you can purchase higher storage plans
  • I like how the Android app combines the store and player into the same app.
  • It’s easy to download your music onto your devices

iTunes Match

I just subscribed to this service a couple of weeks ago when Jennifer bought her iPhone. It works great with Apple products, and I think it is well worth the $24.99 yearly price. itunes will scan your music collection and “match” any of your songs that they offer and make them available from the cloud. You get a higher quality version and you have immediate access to your music from your apple device or computer. Here are my thoughts

  • If you have an iPhone, this is the best way to go. It works great
  • You can use iTunes Match on up to 10 devices, so it may be a little limiting if you have a big family
  • It only works on iOS 5 and higher. That means if you have an old iPod touch (1st or 2nd generation) you can’t use this with it
  • You can upload up to 25,000 of your own songs to the service. This is great for the more obscure stuff that they don’t have available in iTunes
  • The biggest drawback is that they don’t offer an android app. This would make this service perfect and would bring Apple added money, but don’t expect it to ever happen.

My Conclusion

iTunes Match is the slickest of the three options, but you are locked in to Apple devices for mobile access. Amazon is best for compatibility. And I’m not really sure where Google fits in. It seems like an afterthought and isn’t as functional as it could be. For me, I’ll keep using all three so I can be sure to have my tunes available wherever I’m at.  Also, while these services offer you offline access, you still need a backup. Don’t think that these will replace your backup plan. It’s not easy to get your music back out. In the end, try them out and pick out the one that works best for you.

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Where to Find It

I’ll let you in on one of my secrets to finding deals on cables, A/V accessories, and computer stuff. Check out monoprice.com.  I’ve ordered a bunch from them lately, and I have been very impressed with both the quality and cost of the products they sell. When you check out their prices for cables, you will be blown away if you are used to ordering from other online retailers. Their prices are really cheaper.

I also order a lot from Amazon and Newegg, but if Monoprice has the item, they are almost always cheaper. I recently bought a 100′ VGA cable for $31 and a nice projector mount for $26. Check out their site and see what they have to offer. They also offer good quality XLR cables and adapters.

 


Here’s a quick way to build up your library of sermon illustration videos. Check out the Christmas special from WorshipHouse Media. They are offering twelve free videos, so you’ll have to check their site to find out which days they are available. WorshipHouse Media is one of the more popular online stores for videos, so be sure to see what they are offering.

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