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Church Video Ideas: PC or Mac?

Orginally published on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 7:43 PM
by Greg Atkinson

Ah - that is the question these days. On the production and editing side, church techies have been pretty Mac-heavy for years, but most used a PC to project their lyrics and videos in an actual service. A big reason for this was that worship presentation software until recently was all PC-based. With the surprisingly quick rise of ProPresenter, I'm seeing more and more churches make a total switch over to the Mac platform...

Obviously, a big part of the rise of Macs is due to Apple’s amazing marketing campaigns. Apple has done a great job of presenting their products in fresh, exciting, compelling and attractive ways. The “PC vs Mac” commercials were and still are a huge success. Whether totally accurate or not, Apple and Mac computers are seen as sleek, stable and cool. It feels as if every one has an iPod and uses iTunes. Is that true? I doubt it, but it feels like that. My hats off to Apple again for one heck of an advertising job. Earlier this week, on my blog, I asked how many had upgraded to Apple’s Leopard and several responded that they had already upgraded.

I recently did a software poll where I asked churches what worship presentation software they used. If I had done this poll just 1 to 2 years ago, it would have been a toss up between EasyWorship and MediaShout and everyone else would have been way behind. This year’s software poll shocked me as ProPresenter (a Mac-based worship presentation software) took the top place and has never looked back. I, personally, stand behind and endorse 3 worship presentation products: EasyWorship, MediaShout and ProPresenter. I knew ProPresenter would be in the top 3, but had no idea they’d take the top spot.

Also helping Macs in the world of worship are the endorsements from conferences like Orange, Catalyst and all the Passion events. ProPresenter is also used on the Chris Tomlin tour and got its start at North Point where Andy Stanley is Senior Pastor. These high profile conferences, events and churches started raising the bar for media and when attendees asked, “What are you using to do that?” - the answer came down to two worship products made for Mac - ProPresenter (the worship presentation software) and ProVideoPlayer (designed to enhance live staging events).

Now having said all this, I’m back to the original question. You see, my church is PC-based. I love many of the features of ProPresenter, but we haven’t switched over to the Mac platform (for presentation) for a number of reasons. We do use Macs (with FinalCut) for video production. So, I bring this up for my own education. I’d like to know what you use at your church. Are you PC or Mac? Are you a hybrid like my church (PC for presentation and Mac for production)? I’ll also ask two more questions: If you’re Mac-based, have you upgraded to Leopard? If you’re PC-based, have you upgraded to Vista?

2007 Greg Atkinson (www.churchvideoideas.com)
Used by permission from author. All rights reserved by author.

Greg Atkinson lives in Dallas with his wife and their three small children. Greg served previously as the Director of WorshipHouse Media, after having served as a worship pastor for 11 years. Greg is now the Technical Arts Director at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship and continues to consult, teach and write about worship, media and creative communication. You can connect with him through his daily blog, Church Video Ideas, his podcast, Creative Synergy , or his email: .


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  There are 35 Comments:

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    A little early to ask about Leopard, but I’m not upgrading right away. None of my macs are Intel based (I have a PowerBook G4 I’m typing on right now and a Tower G4 that we do our video edits on - a little antiquated, but it works) and I’m not going to push it by putting Leopard on them.

    That said, everybody else around the church is PC-based, we use MediaShout currently, too. I will NEVER go back, having spent a very significant time on Macs and PCs both over the last twenty years. (Yes… Twenty...) I also do music on my Mac, and I recently completed a full-length album project on just one Powerbook G4 and a Midi and Audio interface. It sounds GREAT. I would not try to do that, nor would I try to do video, on the PC. Just can’t stand it…

    But MediaShout works real well for us on the PC and I don’t really want to switch any time soon, and Microsoft Office works WAY better on the PC, imho… Stuff like that… Windows is IT.

  • Posted by Tom Watson

    Reading this post made me think of the condition we are in during this present age.  One day we know we will live in perfection with God as King of the New Heavens and New Earth.  Longing for this day, there is a tension living in a world of sin. 

    In a similar way (admittedly limited in scope grin I am currently working on a MacBook and living in a PC based world at church with our presentation software (EasyWorship).  I long for the day of perfection when all we see is the beautiful apple.

  • Posted by eric Partin

    We started our church a little over 2 years ago, we were PC based and used Media Shout. For the last year we have been switching over to Mac including the MacBook that I am typing on right now. So, Sunday’s are still run on a PC but we will eventually move it over and yes, we have already installed all 4 Mac’s with the new Leopard.

  • Posted by

    We use Mac’s and ProPresenter. My Macbook Pro was running Leopard by 4:30pm last Friday. It is worth the upgrade for the new Quick Look alone. Although Spaces and Time Machine are amazing too!

    I have used many flavors of PC’s running many flavors of windows, including Tablet PC’s and Vista - the Mac and OS X win hands down in my book! What can I say - I’m a fan boy!

    MH

  • Posted by

    People who have PC’s should read the warning label… Intel Inside…

    I use a pc but I love being ridiculed by my Mac staff and friends.

  • Posted by

    We’ve been using easyworship for a few years here and it works ok, but there are some definite drawbacks for a large, multi-venue facility like ours.

    As far as using Leopard, it’s way to early to expect people to switch over. You never want to change your operating system if you have a stable editing system. Until the release has been out and the bigger bugs are worked out, you never want to upgrade to something that’s going to possibly disrupt your workflow. One problem I’ve already heard about is that many Adobe apps won’t work to their fullest on Leopard yet. They are working, but some don’t work completely yet. Adobe will issue a patch soon, but that’s still something that could cause a major problem if you’re trying to do a project that relied heavily on these programs.

    While the whole PC vs Mac debate can go on and on, it does show a bit of pride to think that a PC cannot handle anything important. Our audio post guy had been working on a PC for many years and only recently switched over to a Mac. It wasn’t because ProTools HD wouldn’t work with his PC, he had more than enough capacity for what he had been doing, but he wanted to upgrade his computer and decided that since our video editing systems are on Mac it would help if he went Mac too. My personal editing system is a PC but my work systems are Mac. I know that both offer a lot of functionality to the point where I don’t think anyone can really claim that what is possible on a Mac is not possible on a PC. One thing that I will say, though, is that I do not want to run Vista and so I will be switching over to a Mac when I can afford it.

  • Posted by Eric

    We’ve been using ProPresenter on a MacBook running Tiger and have had no trouble. Everything works as advertised.

  • Posted by Erik Richter

    We started with MediaShout several years ago, but moved over to ProPresenter a few months ago.  The only thing we use the PC for is general office tasks.  Everything looks so much smoother coming off the Mac.

  • Posted by Erik Richter

    Oh yeah… We haven’t moved to Leopard at church, but I’ve upgraded my work Mac and personal laptop.  Leopard is a great OS!

  • Posted by

    We use PC’s. The main reason is noone on staff here has any experiance with Mac’s + it would be expensive to purchase 7Macs (4 in office & 3 for service + a server) at once.

    We use Easy worship & our trial is almost up & will probably purchase it. It is more cost effective because of Media Shout’s site license thing.

    I personally have a lappy with Vista & have only have problems adding software.

  • Posted by Adam Gregory

    We are currently PC based, though I am actually pushing to go Open Source and switch to Linux boxes and servers.  Yes we have unfortunately moved to vista on some of our systems. This is a big reason why I am for the switch to open source.As far as the presenter software goes though I would favor a switch to Mac
    Granger just released a free program that they developed in house and have been using for the last year called iWorship

    you can get it here http://www.renovatiosw.com/

    This would keep in line my open source desires but it only runs on Mac so I would have to compromise on that end.

  • Posted by Richard Gaspard

    Our production facility is all Mac.  Our main auditorium just switched to Mac about 3 months ago, and we run ProPresenter.  I had already bought LiveWorship, but a guy I met @ Willow Creek’s Arts conference convinced me to go to ProPresenter. We were using an older version of EasyWorship, but every time I tried to upgrade, my computer would crash (sound familiar to anyone?).  I liked EasyWorship, but it was clearly time to upgrade my media computers, so the hand-me-down Macs went to the auditorium.  The youth room is to follow, then our children’s dept., possibly within the next couple of years.  We LOVE ProPresenter.  The computer is runs on is a Dual 2Ghz G5 with 4GB of RAM.  I have played 7min videos with no hiccups.

  • Posted by Greg Atkinson

    Thanks, Adam - that’s actually what my blog (http://www.churchvideoideas.com) is on tomorrow. I’ll be telling people about Granger’s new presentation software. FYI - It’s only free during the beta time period.

  • Posted by

    We have a very happy with Oratorio from graymattercomputing.com.  It’s crossplatform and can put together a song presentation in just a few minutes on the fly.  Change backgrounds and lyrics quickly and seamlessly.  A free trial and only costs $99.  Developer has been great with feedback and adding new features.  Check it out.  Has saved us money and lots of time.

  • Posted by

    We use easyworship in our main worship center.  I used a powerbook for about 6 months and didn’t find any reason to stick with it.  It wasn’t any easier to use, it didn’t do anything my PC couldn’t do, and it did not play nice with the PC’s the rest of the church was using.  On top of that, Mac’s are too expensive to justify switching everyone over.  Apple is brilliant at marketing, but we can’t afford to spend that much more money just to be “cool.”

  • Posted by Matt

    Well, I’m a mac guy, always have been.  While our IT guys at the church worry about the Macs given to the Arts team and for our production machines aren’t as secure on our network, we’ve slowly won them over.

    As for software, both MediaShout and EasyWorship were used at one point, moreso the former.  But it took a good 40-50 minutes to train someone adequately on MS.  And even then they wouldn’t fully have it.  And we were just not satisfied with the number of hiccups it was prone to have, so we ditched it and went to ProPresenter on Macs.  We’ve never looked back.

    Not only does it surpass (imo) the other two PC programs by far, it is TREMENDOUSLY easier for volunteers to learn.  I can have someone running it competently in about 5 minutes...20 if I need to show them how to make presentations (lyrics, passages, etc).

    I can’t imagine life without ProPresenter now.  My volunteer team leaders thank me almost daily...so do others on staff.

  • Posted by Jeff

    Upgraded to Leopard last night and have been using Spaces all day! Love it! Incredible!

    At church, we’re on Macs and use Propresenter!

    Woohoo!

  • Posted by

    We hold international conferences annually (about 800+ attendees in the evening meetings) and smaller conferences during the year of around 120 people each.

    We have been running our songs through a PC running Microsoft Powerpoint for about 5 years.

    This year, however, I switched to a Macbook running Keynote. I have also being doing our weekly meetings of mainly core volunteers running the songsheets from a flat screen TV and doing a Keynote presentation. I run the screen and lead worship from the same laptop without really using separate songsheets.

    I did not even know software like ProPresenter existed, and I am definitely going to give it a try.

    I am also going to upgrade to Leopard as soon as it becomes available in South Africa - which should only be around next week.

  • Posted by David Gafford

    We’re a multi-platform church just like you.  We use PC’s and Media Shout for presentation and Mac Pro’s and Final Cut for Production.  We thought about the Mac only route as we went multi-site this year, but the PC won out on the presentation side purely because of cost.  We build our own PC’s on site to spec for presentation use, and we could get (at that time) dual core and a massive video card with a couple GB of ram in a PC for about $400-$600 cheaper than its Mac counterpart.

    If I had to do it all again, I might spend the extra dough to move to Mac and ProPresenter, but we haven’t had any problems with our current setup.  With the money we saved, we put it back into a M7CL digital board, and that’s been a great move for us.  On my MacBook Pro, I have ordered Leopard via mail, but haven’t gotten it yet.  Yes, I took up Compusa.com on their $30 mail in rebate for Leopard, and at the end of the budget year, every cent helps.  As for the PC realm, we haven’t upgraded to Vista, and probably won’t anytime soon.  XP is moderately stable, and I know on our machines how much I can push them before they crash, so it’s not perfect, but it’s working… Great question and I love the other comments so far.

  • Posted by John Fones

    We’re in a similar place with a lot of churches here.  Our Communications Department (Post Production and Graphics) is using all Macs.  However, our Senior Pastor has a MacBook Pro, as well as almost every pastor on the executive team.  Assistants are all on PC’s and most Pastors are on PC’s also.  We’re using Easy Worship in our Sunday morning services.  I think Easy Worship does a fairly good job.  I would imagine in the next few months we’ll be switching to Mac in there so we can run iWorship or ProPresenter. 

    Oh yeah, and I’m running 10.5 on my MacBook Pro, and my MacPro.  IT ROCKS!!!!!

  • Posted by Chris Surratt

    We (Seacoast Greenville) are completely Mac, and we run ProPresenter. I have tested almost every program out there, and ProPresenter seems to be the most intuitive and easy to use by far. Especially since the last major upgrade. I have not had a crash on a Sunday in over 2 years!

  • Posted by

    My church is definitely has been a hybrid church like yours. However, we are now in the process of moving into a new building and changing the way we do things a little. We have been all Mac for production for quite some time now, but we have had a PC for peesentation. We have recently made the decision to switch to Mac for presentation, and we were going to go with ProPresenter...but because of the issue of PowerPoint (not being able to use transitions in ProPresenter and having to import all the PPT slides as jpegs)...we decided to stick with EasyWorship. Since we’ve decided to go with EasyWorship, we of course have to partition our presentation computer, which is now going to be a Mac. This means we have to install Windows on it. Weird...but from what I understand, Vista received its highest performance rating when operated from a Mac. I found that very interesting.

    One staff member has Leopard installed on their computer and the rest of us will be getting Leopard installed this week.

  • Macs are slowly working their way into general staff use at our church here, starting with the video and worship department and spreading through the youth and leadership as the PCs we have wear out. We’re tied to a PC-based system for our financials, scheduling, payroll, etc, which keeps us from seriously considering an “all-mac” scenario. We’ve been going all Mediashout for several years and have generally been happy, but we have been less-than-pleased with its video playback, and feel like we have to jump through some hoops to make that work well for our needs at times. We’ve looked at ProPresenter somewhat and haven’t made the switch. I’m surprised also to hear that propresenter took #1 in the poll… perhaps it’s worth another look.

    I’m typing this on a PC currently, which I use at my workstation. We have multiple G5 Editing workstations which we’ve been very pleased with.

  • Posted by

    We’ve got 4 Macs here for video production and graphics work and use easy worship and powerpoint for presentations. Video playback is via DVD off a normal consumer DVD player.
    The youth service is switching to Keynote from Powerpoint, but run Easyworship off their Macbook with Bootcamp.

  • Posted by David T

    We just switched over to an intel iMac in our soundbooth for recording and presenting.  We use ProPresenter and Garageband.  We have upgraded to leopard, but I am having had some issues with both ProPresenter and Garageband Not Responding every so often.  So later this week I am going to re-install tiger to see if that fixes the problem.

    This is a trial period to show our Pastors what the Mac systems can do and so far it hasnt been to pretty.  Any help would be great!!!

    dt

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