With all this talk about Triplewide, Edgeblending, multiscreen, environmental projection and regular single screen video surfaces, we thought it would be helpful to start the Transform Christmas campaign with the “essentials” or the tools you will most likely use this christmas if you’re looking to transform your space and create an environment. Don’t worry if you only have one screen, many of these tools still apply to you. This is also a great list to look at if you are considering three screens or a multi-screen setup. Here’s what we call the Top 6 Transforming Tools.
Tool #1: Multiscreen Processor
Our Pick: Matrox TripleHead2Go.
This is the only tool on this list that those using single screen only won’t find useful, but this device is something everyone should keep in mind. If you ever want to take the video output of one computer and spread it across multiple displays without breaking the bank, you’ll need a “multi-screen processor.” There are a few out there, but there’s only one we absolutely love at the price: the TripleHead2Go.
We like the TripleHead2Go because of it’s price, functionality and the incredible ease of use. It’s stupid simple. Plug it into your Mac or PC and it will split the output of your computer into three equal parts (which then you plug into three separate projectors) with virtually no configuration.
We did an in-depth write up of the TripleHead2Go a few months ago. Feel free to check out that post here.
Tool #2: Presentation Software.
Our Pick: ProPresenter 5
We are usually pretty good about not choosing favorites, but this time we wanted to let the cat out of the bag. If we had to pick one for Triplewide, multi-screen AND single screen projection, our team would pick ProPresenter 5. Here’s why:
- Masking.The process of Environmental projection that makes the visuals seem to “flow from the ceiling” is the ability to mask out the parts of the image you don’t want to project on (i.e. the ceiling or musicians on stage, etc). This is not a cheap process if your software doesn’t support this feature internally. ProPresenter is currently the only lyric presentation software that builds it into it’s use… at no extra cost.
- Multi-Screen Support. Again a feature only advance multi-screen people would use, but at a small cost, ProPresenter can actually control a TripleHead2Go or three screen setup allowing you to tile and place text on specific screens instead of just the center. They call it the Multi-screen module. (They also have internal corner pinning and edge-blending support if needed. Another reason we love this software!)
- Hot Keys. This is a personal favorite feature of mine. Whenever I am running lyrics for an event or service, I need to be able to get around the slides as quickly as possible because you never know where the worship leaders are going to go. With Pro, I can setup simple “hot keys” so that every time the chorus begins I just hit the “c” button. Brilliant!
- Twitter. This is espeically nice in the holiday season when you want to have #firstbaptistxmas or highlight all the #transformXmas posts of your community members. It’s a great way to foster social community, and with their easy to use built in Twitter feature you don’t have to manually type them in.
- Visual Layout. This is the most important feature for me. I am a visual guy and to me the layout in ProPresenter is the cleanest of all of them. Let me also be the first to say that this feature is just like me saying Mac is better than PC. Some people get confused by all the pictures, slides and images which therefore means “cues” like Media Shout has is probably the better choice. That’s fine, go get a PC =) haha, just kidding PC friends!
Do not be fooled that ProPresenter is the only “multi-screen” solution out there. Easy Worship is working on a module that I have seen and played with myself… coming VERY SOON! Excited about that new update. As well, Media Shout is a very powerful option as well for those who aren’t ready to switch platforms for basic content playback. But we wanted to give you our “top tools” and this was on the top of our personal Christmas List.
Tool #3: Projector
Our Pick: Christie LX 505
When it comes to projectors there’s a TON of options out there. It’s an essential if you’re using one screen or 6 screens; You’re going to need a projector. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re buying a projector and we’ve taken each of these into mind with the Christie LX 505.
- Brightness. When looking at a projector, or comparing projectors, factor in the brightness. ANSI Lumens (the rating almost every projector uses to measure brightness) is not a “scientific measurement” and of course changes over time as the bulb, dust, filters, power and other factors have natural wear and tear. We picked the Christie LX505 because 5,000 lumens is a really good “middle ground” for basic environmental projection or a smaller screen setup. (i.e. a 5,000 lumen doesn’t mean they all are the exact same brightness)
- Reliability. There simply isn’t a better brand out there than Christie. They are the best. We stand by them simply because of their warranty and maintenance philosophies. They won’t sell a projector through someone who isn’t going to support it on the backend. Therefore you know that when you buy a Christie you’re going to get the best technical support when you need it. Let’s be honest, piece of mind is worth a lot of money.
- Price. This is always a factor right? Before I get critics here I need to say that the Christie isn’t the best in this category but we let this slide as it scored off the charts in the other categories. Regardless you need to have in mind that you are going to get what you pay for. Don’t always go for the “sub $1000” projector that you can pick up at Sams club. It’s not smart. This also means you don’t need to spend $100,000 on a projector. That’s not smart either.
- Lens/Flexibility. I’ve merged two categories into one, but when you’re looking at a projector make sure you have some good features that lend itself to be flexible with a various applications (this will allow you to feel like you are buying one projector for multiple purposes). I’m talking about things like: lens shift, keystone, rear & celling mode and various input options. On top of that, make sure to see if you have the ability to swap out lenses or a really “short throw” lens. If you are not able to replace or exchange the lenses on your projector you will have a difficult time being able to use it outside the original “purchased” application. In other words, you can do stuff like Environmental Projection if you have a few different lens options or if you have a lens that is really flexible in it’s throw distance.
The Christie isn’t the only one out there, but for the price it’s bar none the top of it’s game. If you have a projector you like let us know in the comments!
Tip #4: Cables
Our Pick: www.pccables.com
This website has been our company’s little secret for a few years now. I have never found cables cheaper than this place. Usually you find prices this low with those sketchy websites that scam you… Not with PCCables.com! I have never recieved a cable from them that I don’t absolutely love. Don’t be deceived by their somewhat simple/plain website, we’ve spent hundreds with them over the years and there’s no better place than PCCables.com. Check out some of these deals… oh wait, these are everyday prices:
- 100′ VGA Cable: $41.50
- DVI to VGA adapters: $2.75
- 10′ HDMI Cables: $5.95 – THIS IS AMAZING! Best Buy: $59
- 1:8 VGA Splitters & Amplifiers: $59.95
Check them out, you’ll be glad that you did. One of the most forgotten pieces of the “puzzle” for multiscreen is all the cables. This is going to be a great resource if you’re one of those “do it yourself” type of people. Let us know if you have any other secrets on where to find stuff.
Tip #5: Adapters
Our Pick: Monoprice.com
Whenever you’re doing anything with visuals you will have to make sure to have all the right adapters. I’ve found that whenever we do events on the road and in various churches/locations having the right video adapters is the “make it, or break it” moment for us. Lets say you want to use some projection this christmas to create an environment in your space and you find out the projector only has HDMI or DVI. Do you have the right adapters to get from your computer (or even triplehead2go) into your projector? If not, Monoprice.com is your best friend.
Here are a few of our favorite adapters from Monoprice (Remember we’re all mac guys):
- Thunderbolt to VGA: $10.74
- Thunderbolt to HDMI, DVI & Display Port: $13.94
- 6′ HDMI to DVI Cable: $4.12
Tip #6: Content
Our Pick: TripleWide Media
Regardless if you’re using one screen or sixteen screens, you’ll need content. In fact the tools, projection and software is really only as good as the content you pump through it. Content is what makes the difference in your “Transformation.” Of course we’re biased here but there really isn’t a better place than TripleWide Media!
Why? Because we give you three sizes with every purchase. It’s not something that’s special for Christmas, it’s an everyday thing for TripleWide. What do we mean by “three sizes”? With every download you will get a single wide, double wide and a triple wide video or image without an extra fee.
Stop paying for content twice and start allowing TripleWide Media to save you thousands over the years in getting more sizes for one low price! You’ll be glad you did. (Did we mention it’s free to create an account?)
Here are some suggestions for content this holiday season:
So that’s it! These are the tools that will help with your transition to Environmental Projection or even if you’re doing some unique stage design with some video projection. I’m sure I’ve left some great tools out of this list, so feel free to add your own favorites in the comments. What are some of you’re top picks?