Here are 6 Tips for your Multiscreen Setup
Many in our community use ProPresenter on a weekly basis. If you are considering the switch from a traditional setup (1 or 2 screens) to a multiscreen setup (triplewide, edge blend, environmental projection and more,) then you are going to want to understand how to adjust and manipulate your ProPresenter settings to get the most out of your multiscreen environment. We have compiled these 6 ProPresenter tips for your multiscreen setup in order to alleviate frustration and help you prepare for your first multiscreen environment. Some of the tips are specifically for ProPresenter, some for multiscreen in general and a couple specifically for environmental projection setups.
1) Mutliscreen Processor Settings
Most multiscreen setups require multiple projectors. In order to process the images on your projectors correctly, you need to utilize a multiscreen processor to get the number of outputs you need to properly send your graphics to the correct output (or screen surface.) A quick note, a video splitter is not the same thing as a multiscreen processor. A splitter takes one image and simply replicates that image across multiple outputs. A multiscreen processor takes one image and splits it into segments to send to multiple outputs. It can be as simple as a DualHead2Go which splits one image in half, for example a double wide setup or edge blend. From there you can go up to a Spyder processor which can manipulate 16 unique outputs.
Where should you be? The typical multiscreen setup is in the 3-5 output range. A 3 output setup, or triplewide, can be done with the TripleHead2Go or the DataPathX4. (We recommend the DPX4 as it’s a more robust machine with advanced options and onboard computing to help maintain a consistent signal time and again.) If you don’t know about the DataPathX4, click here to learn more.
Once you choose your multiscreen processor, you need to dial in your input and output settings prior to turning on ProPresenter.
2) Understanding the Multiscreen Module
Do you need the multiscreen module for a simple multiscreen setup?
Not necessarily, you can make your output match the size you need when you output to a DataPathX4, TripleHead2Go, or even the DualHead2Go. There are some limitations as one can imagine. The biggest limitation would be in having to do a ton of manual work in order to display your different layers where you need them to be, when you want them to be there. (This is where you’d need to specify which layers do what – props, foreground, background, etc.)
You’ll need to manually create text boxes for where your side screens are, setup custom masks, insert and resize motions, graphics, etc. The time involved for one song let alone a regular practice is not practical. Hence the introduction of the multiscreen module.
What does the Multiscreen Module give you?
Control and Flexibility. It seems simple, but that’s really what you’re getting. As you should be aware, the power of ProPresenter is in its layering structure. The use of multiple layers enables the user to assign different items to different layers such as backgrounds, masks, live video, slides, props, etc. When you are looking at a multiscreen setup with lyrics, motion graphics, live video, masks, and more, you need to be able to control it quickly and accurately.
One key feature that the module has it a multiscreen commands option. This will give you on the fly control to change settings for turning on and off text on left, center, or right screens, tiled background, etc. These shortcuts will help you make seamless transitions within ProPresenter.
Finally, while control is great, having flexibility in your options can be even more helpful. Layers can be setup to show across all three screens or one screen, left, right, etc. The only limitation is when playing back a DVD (can only be on one screen…a limit of DVDs, not the ProPresenter software.)
At the end of the day, choosing whether to use (and purchase) the multiscreen module comes down to how you are using multiscreen in your room. If you are running environmental projection or any type of multiscreen setup that doesn’t involve projecting lyrics, announcement slides, videos, or more, you can probably skip the module. However, if you are running lyrics and more within your multiscreen setup, then you probably want the module. It’ll save you a bunch of time and effort.
3) Hot Keys
One of the most frustrating parts of running visuals is using a mouse. How many times do you lose it or end up with it on your display screens? Frustrating right? Using Hot Keys will allow a more efficient use of the interface and enable you to leave your mouse alone more of the time. Check out the chart below for how we use hotkeys to quickly get to any key part of the song without having to think about it.
Whenever we are running lyrics for an event or service, we need to be able to get around the slides as quickly as possible because you never know where the worship leaders may end up taking the congregation. ProPresenter allows us to setup simple “hot keys” so that every time the chorus begins we just simply tap the “C” button and be right back to the chorus. Hot keys are just as great for multiscreen if not more so. Think about the energy level that can be added or take away from a service with the click of a button. Being able to quickly change between motions and stills and go dark gives you more control.
4) Projector Alignment
Once you have installed/mounted projectors and finalized signal and power runs, the next step is to align your projectors. In order to do this well, you are going to need a good alignment pattern. If you don’t have any (or you don’t like what you have) don’t worry, we’ve got some great test patterns on TripleWide Media. We have just about every size you would need from single screen through the most complex multiscreen setup, so there’s really no excuse for not having your projectors perfectly aligned.
The goal: a square image. Square your projectors off of the stage and/or ceiling and then align the others from there (rather than the ceiling and floor on either side). This may sound like it will be a quick process, but it will take some time and fine tuning to get it right. Alignment is a bit of an art and will come easier to some than others.
If you are not aligned correctly, the image may appear warped or lopsided. There are two things to consider in this step. First, make sure the image is level. In our alignment pattern, use the red lines (they mark center) to make sure that the projector is actually level. If the projector is not level, you will never be able to achieve success for the next part. Second, use keystone correction to make your image line up to create a uniformly square image Don’t let the lines slant in any one direction and be cautious of your squares being trapezoids.
5) Multiple Masks for Environmental Projection
The secret to any environmental projection setup is masking. Masking is what creates the seamless feel of EP being “paint on the walls.” There are a few ways to accomplish masking. ProPresenter has a built-in masking function. Spending the time to ensure that you have a great mask is really makes EP feel natural in your room. Without a good mask, your EP setup will look sloppy, inconsistent, and more of a distraction than a great environment.
Why would you need more than one mask? Masking has two key functions. To begin, masking is how you make environmental projection look and feel like paint on the wall. Masking makes it feel natural in your space. When you first start being masking your EP setup, find natural intersections in your room, such as where two walls meet, columns, stage design elements, or where you walls make a corner.
Secondly, masking helps you avoid projecting onto objects or areas you need to avoid. For example, if you’re projectors are in front of your speakers, performers, or set design elements and you don’t want to project onto those objects, you can place a mask over them. Also, masking allows you to avoid projecting onto any screens you may have running IMAG or lyrics that you don’t want the environmental projection to run across.
Having multiple masks you can toggle between gives you more control. Say you have a choir for part of your service or maybe just one song, add a mask that feathers out the choir. Or, if you have screens you want to show a video on or have a set of announcement slide or preacher notes, then turn off and on your screen masks as needed.
6) Choosing the Right Content
Choosing the right content is more than just finding a great looking image or motion. We believe it takes a few steps to get the right content for any type of multiscreen environment.
First, don’t stop at the first clip that works. Just because it works, doesn’t mean it’s the right clip. Add it to your playlist, but keep looking. Does the media relate to your congregation? The multiscreen environments we create should enhance your worship experience, not detract from that experience.
Second, listen to the music you are programming content for while you browse for media. It’s difficult to find great media that will fit your event if you aren’t listening to the music you’ll have at the event. Make it as real as possible to see how you would react to the media.
Finally, curate more than you need. As I stated before, the first clip might not be the right clip. If you have more media than you need, then you’ll be able to quickly adjust on the fly. We always curate more media than we ever use in order to be able to create amazing, unique multiscreen environments.