Tools of the Trade.
Steps of Production
Having worked on the production team at North Point Community Church (NPCC) for over
five years, and given countless tours to visiting ministries, we've heard a lot
of questions from churches interested in implementing a production system similar
to that employed by North point and Passion Conferences. Generally, the highlights
of the things they like include moving backgrounds, live video with words overlayed,
and, in general, the creation of a professional quality, impactful worship experience
on a budget. Today, visitors of NPCC see what looks like a television production
studio, complete with a lot of expensive equipment, and they get a bit overwhelmed.
We're here to first tell you that you don't need a lot of money to produce a high-quality,
multimedia worship experience. NPCC started with very humble beginnings with a
VCR and a television with a very small congregation. There was one other crucial
element that North Point had, though: a vision.
- Computer Graphics (CG)
ProPresenter is a CG, or Computer Graphics, application. It is designed to be easy to use, and for use, primarily, in contemporary worship settings. There are lots programs that can be used to generate graphics on the screen, each serving a specific purpose. ProPresenter is dedicated to worship and is best suited for that environment. Other programs are more geared towards business presentations and are best used in that environment. More coming soon
- Video Loops
Visit Video For Worship to see and purchase the widest array of loops available. They represent all the big names in video loops and provide the convenience of shopping from one location.
- Video Switcher
A video switcher is simply a machine that you plug multiple video devices into, and select which of those devices is live at any one time. Broadcast television studios have giant switchers with perhaps over 50 inputs for the various cameras, Computer Graphics, and tape decks they use for their production. Most churches use switchers that can support from 4 to 16 different inputs. Video Switchers generally have 2 'buses', or panels to control the inputs. In some switchers, either one bus or the other is active. I refer to these as 'A-B' bus switchers (the Edirol and Panasonic MX-50 switchers are two examples).
- A-B Bus Switchers
Most of these are 4 input switchers, which means they can handle 4 video inputs, whether they be cameras, VCRs, or computers. These switchers are generally inexpensive and work very well, but can be a little confusing because you have to keep track of which bus is live at any one time.
- Program/Preview Bus Switchers
Most professional video control rooms utilize Program/Preview bus switchers. On these switchers, one set of lighted-buttons always indicates what signal is live, the other is what is cued to be live, or what the next live shot will be. I prefer these switchers because they're a lot less confusing because you really only have to concentrate on what your next input will be. Generally, you're only pressing buttons on the 'Preview' bus, then either cutting or transitioning from the live, or 'Program', input to the input specified on the Preview bus. By only pressing input buttons on the Preview bus, you have the assurance that you're never inadvertantly changing the shot that your audience is seeing, and you never have to think about which bus is 'live', as you do in the A-B bus switchers.
- Luma Keys and Chroma Keys
Most ministries that utilize ProPresenter in a video production environment select a solid color as a background within ProPresenter, and another color for the words. For example, white words over a black background. In this configuration, ProPresenter becomes one of the inputs on the video switcher, and is 'keyed', or projected over, the other inputs on the switcher, such as camera shots or video loops.
A key is essentially a mask through which you want to show a different video input. Think of this like stencils for letters. If I want to put the number of my house on the curb of the street, I'll pick out stencils representing my street address and arrange them on a paper cut out. Then, I'll put the completed stencil next to the concrete curb and spray paint through the stencil, leaving paint on the curb corresponding to the stencil.
Keys work much the same way. The area you want 'cut out', or 'masked' is defined by you in the switcher, and the other areas (the video loops or live camera shots) are allowed to show through. There are several types of 'keys', but the two most common types are 'Lumakey' and 'Chromakey'.
Luma (short for Luminence) keys are defined based on the intensity of the video that is displayed. For example, if I'm using ProPresenter with white words over a black background, then the white areas are brighter, or have more luminance, than the black areas. The 'key' will cut out the darker areas and allow other video signals to pass through, creating my composite image.
Chroma (short for Chrominence) keys are defined by a specific color set. When you watch the weather man on the news, they usually stand in front of what appears to be a large map. In fact, they are standing in front of a large blue or green wall. In the video control room, this blue, or green, color is 'keyed' out, allowing an alternative video signal, in this case a weathermap, to show through, creating the illusion that the person is standing in front of a large moving map. To use a chroma key with ProPresenter, you tell the 'key' what the background color is of the ProPresenter signal, and the areas of the signal with this color are removed, revealing a video loop or live camera shot.
Many switchers allow you to simply turn on or turn off a predefined key without effecting the regular operation of the system. This means that the key is applied after your other inputs are selected, or 'down stream' of your feed. Appropriately, this type of key is called a 'Down Stream Key', or 'DSK'.