Rechargeable Batteries and Wireless Mics

With the economy struggling in our nation, those struggles will impact the church. Luckily living in Dallas our economy is stronger than most of the economies in the nation. But as a church we are looking for ways to maximize our budget even more.

So I’ve started looking in to rechargeable batteries for our wireless mics. We spend about $2k a year in batteries for our mics just in the sanctuary. That’s not counting any of the other rooms where services are going on.

At one time rechargeable batteries gave pathetic performance in a wireless mic. But technology changes and I’m hearing some good things about a couple of brands.

Mike Sessler on his blog talked about the initial transitionand a 2 year update. He’s been using the Ansmann rechargeables from Horizon Battery. He said the 250mah 9v powers his Shure ULXP mics (same we have) for 4 hours.

From a different angle I talked to Gordon Moore of Lectrosonics and also Shure’s tech support and they both recomend iPowerUs.com. iPower offers a 500mah 9v battery. That should get the usage in our Shure ULXP handhelds up around 6+ hours. That should cover us for practice and services on any day.

Our practice has been to leave the transmitters on from practice straight through service (we use the power lock feature to ensure once they’re on the stay on). But if needed the Shure’s are easy enough to be powered down when not in use.

I’m going to order some of the iPower units to do some test and see if it’s viable for us. I’ll post updates as the come.

Anyone else using rechargeable’s in their wireless? What were your results like?

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July 31, 2008. Tags: , , , . Sound, Tech Stuff. 4 comments.

Echo Conference

I’m getting excited about the Echo Conference coming up in a few weeks in Dallas. Echo is part of the company that is Igniter Media, Collide Magazine and Worhsip House Media. But this looks like a great conference for people who create media in a church environment.

To me it seemed to me most “church media” conferences are geared towards:
– The newbie with sessions like intro to video editing/ IMAG/ photoshop etc…
– Or geared towards senior church leadership (why use media/ how to budget/ etc…) More topics that are out of my control.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed some of the conferences out there that seemed geared towards media, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Echo seems to be geared to those in the church who are creating the media. A couple of questions for ya:
-Anyone planning on going and want to meet up for a meal?
-What sessions you planning on going to?
-What conferences do you go to that you enjoy?

July 30, 2008. Tags: , , . Personal Growth. 3 comments.

iPhone 3G

When the iPhone 3G was first announced I was excited about it. And so was my wife because she wanted one, or at least an iPhone. Well as things have unfolded the new iPhone is pretty slick, but an incremental upgrade from my original 8GB iPhone.

But my wife was tired of her 3 year old Razr. She likes the phone for talking but she likes texting, surfing the web, checking her email and now playing games on my iPhone. So to please my wife if sacrifices were to be made I got the 3G and set her up with my old one. OK it wasn’t a sacrifice, but it wasn’t a revolutionary upgrade either.

So I ordered the white 16 GB on Thursday the 24th. I was told it would take 10 to 21 days. I got a call on Monday, 4 days later, that it was ready for me to pick up. Much better than waiting 5 hours at an Apple store. I picked the white because the black shows ever fingerprint. And if I’m going to be in a 2 year contract I wanted the 16 GB.

My first thought are:
– 16 GB I can fit all my music on my iPhone (I did go through and delete about 1 GB of stuff I have on CD but haven’t listened to)
– I like the feel of the curved back of the phone in my had
– 3G has good coverage in the North Dallas area. In that good coverage 3G is way faster than the edge and even faster than the DSL at the office at times. (We have 50 CPUs connected to 2 DSL lines)
– GPS is pretty cool. iPhone would get me in the block I was on, GPS gets me within a couple hundred yards.
– I don’t think the 3G creates the interference in unbalanced audio lines in my car and office that my first iPhone had. I was listening to a podcast of my iPhone, forced it to check email, which used to always cause interference on the 1/8″ to Cassette adapter I use, but was clean. Yeah!!!
– It is louder in both the ear piece and speaker.

Some things I didn’t expect:
– Even restoring from my old iPhone it doesn’t remember passwords to wi-fi networks or MY VOICEMAIL! In fact when I would click on the voicemail icon it started dialing my voicemail. I had to re-enter my voice mail password in the preferences and all was working.
– Apparently when setting up my old iPhone for my wife, you need a new sim card. I had already asked the AT&T guy if I needed anything or if I could activate it from home. So I put in the SIM card from her Razr and it seems to be working.

July 29, 2008. Tags: . Tech Stuff. Leave a comment.

ProPresenter and 3 Screens

We’ve been using ProPresenter and ProVideoPlayer with the Advance Module since last October. ProVideoPlayer output feeds 4 plasmas on our stage while ProPresenter feeds our 2 projector screens. The advance module alows PVP to control the background elements in ProPresenter.

Well this week I updated to 3.4 of ProPresenter and noticed that the advance module now supports Matrox’s Triple Head 2 Go. It gives you the ability to have ProPresenter background to span all 3 screens and you can control which screens your text is displayed on.

This means an iMac ($1,500 or less) + ProPresenter ($400 single users license) + Advance Module ($200) + Triple Head 2 Go ($300) = Great display and control of 3 projector screens for $2,400.

We are switching our youth rooms and young adults room to ProPresenter in the next week or so. Our young adults room has 3 screens that I think will be the perfect application for this. They were using 2 PCs with Easy Worship running through 2 kramer vp719 switchers. So you could put any input on either the center or outside screens. Which has gotten them into some tech problems. I’m thinking of running this setup but only run the center screen through the Kramer Switcher so DVDs if they use them will only show up on the center screen.

I’ll keep you posted how this project plays out.

July 23, 2008. Tech Stuff, Video. 10 comments.

Deadline Creativity

This weekend was not fun for me. Late in the week we had a change in speakers. So instead of our senior pastor speaking during all 3 services one associate pastor would teach Sat and one would teach on Sun. It’s our normal procedure for when our senior pastor is not speaking, but I usually know about it in advance, not on Friday.

My senior pastor is unique, he is very planned out in what sermon’s he’ll be doing. He has rough outline and draft of sermons for the next year. Yes I said a year, I said he was unique. Granted in that year things change, but I usually have a good idea what the next 3 months are going to be. I get rough outlines (3-4 pages of handwritten notes) a few weeks before a series starts. I get finalized outlines (the content that goes on the projectors) Tue or early Wed usually, sometimes later if our pastor is traveling.

But with this last minute change I had the chance to experience what many creatives in churches experience, deadline creativity. I found out Friday (a day I usually work half days) that one pastor wanted about 20 images to go with his sermon as illustrations and the other wanted 4 clips pulled from the movie Miracle.

My typical creative time is about 2 hours for the sermon graphic (title slide and sermon slide) and 1 hour to put the content into the slides. So when we have 2 pastor’s speaking it’s pretty much a days worth of work for me once you factor in meetings and interruptions.

So I left at my usual time on Friday only to return early on Sat to prepare. After Sat service I had another set of sermon graphics to do. Finally early Sunday morning I pulled the video clips. For me I HATE working this way. My mind gets to worrying and thinking about the projects so Sat morning I couldn’t enjoy being with my family because I was thinking about what needed to be done. Same with Sat service, Sat night I couldn’t sleep and when Sunday services finally finished I was mentally exhausted.

I know some of you out there this is normal. You might be a part time or volunteer who comes in Sat night to prepare for Sunday service. Or your pastor my procrastinate/ flow in the Spirit. I’ve always thought God talks on Monday or Tuesday just as well as Sat night, you just didn’t want to listen then. Wait did I just say that? For you guys in that situation I’m not jealous. Made me realize how well this process is structured at my church, most of the time.

The things I learned from this:
-I don’t like working like that
-Make sure your well is full. You have to have a creative well to pull things from. If you don’t have anything (ideas/ resources) then it’s much harder

July 22, 2008. Graphic Design, Personal Growth, Tech Stuff, Video. 3 comments.

iPhone/ iPod Touch Apps I’m Digging

Well it’s been one week with my iPhone (1 gen) and I thought I’d share some apps that I haven’t mentioned before but I really like and see if anyone has some other suggestions.

Mocha VNC Lite: It’s a VNC client for the iPhone. On macs you can enable VNC control in the Sharing Menu in System preferences and then click on Remote Management and then Computer Settings. I used it to control an iMac running ProPresenter and I’m going to try controlling our M7CL digital soundboard from my iPhone tomorrow.

Enigmo: It’s the water dropping puzzle game. It runs well and doesn’t crash. Challenging yet fun. I can listen to my music and not the game music!

Scrabble: It can be fun. But it’s buggy in that it reboots to the home screen or the phone all together, the load in screen hangs every time, can’t listen to my music when I play. But when it works it’s fun. You can play multiple players by passing the phone around which is a nice time killer when waiting in line. I’m hoping EA will get an update out and fix the bugs in the game.

Auroa Feint: Free puzzle game. One of those you move piece around to match 3 of a kind. It’s been really easy so far. Has a neat twist in it’s setup. It’s free so you can’t beat that.

OmniFocus: I mentioned it earlier but it really is rocking. I’ll post some more on it but I’ve put the money down for the desktop app and mobileme. It’s that good for the way I work.

Some apps I’m looking at:
-Still looking for a racing game that uses the accelerometer. Looking at MonkeyBall, Crash Bandicoot and CroMag Rally.
-I would like a WordPress App

On a side note. I can set up my wife’s work email that runs exchange on my iPhone. Why is this good? Because she wants my iPhone and wants me to get a new 3g iPhone. So I’m thinking about getting the 16GB white one. But iPhones are still hard to find. I went by the Apple Store in Willowbend by my house a few times last week and the smallest line I saw was 50 people. Hopefully I can pick mine up in another week or so.

Anyone upgraded from the 2G to 3G?

July 20, 2008. Tags: . Tech Stuff. Leave a comment.

PC for Adobe CS3 Video Suite

I’m working on decentralizing our video and media content creation. Previously it’s been based around one room and a beefy MacPro that’s loaded with FCS 2 and Adobe’s CS3 Master Collection and a ProTools 002 setup. But we’ve run into some problems:
-Scheduling the various ministries in there: Me (big church gfx, video, audio, web), music dept, youth, young adults and children’s ministry
-Our media room is big closet and has poor AC and it gets HOT in there! Cost to rework the AC is $7-8k

Several of departments already have the 90% of the hardware and software they need. I just need to pick up some A/D boxes and some decent speakers and they’ll be up and running.

The youth, young adults and big church use ProPresenter so they’ll be sticking with macs. Youth and Young adults just got the middle of the road iMacs so that will be their production machine as well.

Music department is barely in there. But it would be easy enough to give them an M-Box and an external drive. The music pastor’s notebook would work fine for the ProTools stuff they do.

The children’s church is Easy Worship based so I’m wanting to set them up with a decent PC for DV editing and Adobe’s CS3 video suite. They have no plans of editing HD. I’ve been on FCPs and macs since 2001 so I need some help specing out a PC that will meet there needs but not be overkill. If it were a Mac I’d get them an iMac. So I’m looking for something in that ballpark. I’m not interested in building a PC for them. So what should I look for in a Dell or other PC manufacturer?

July 19, 2008. Tech Stuff, Video. 2 comments.

Adobe CS3 Dynamic Link… Am I Missing Something?

As I’ve written before, I prefer FCP over Premiere any day. We have both the Adobe CS3 master collection and FCS2. I waited to buy FCS2 because I wanted to give Premiere Pro CS3 a fair shake. On my systems it always seemed clunky and unresponsive. Might just be my experience but I’m digressing.

Our Children’s Ministry hired a part time media person to do their stuff. But she has a background in Premiere. She recently shot a green screen project and was having a hard time pulling a key in Premiere. I thought it would be easy for her to get her edit locked then we’d jump into AE to use Keylight to pull the key.

I have Automatic Duck to translate my FCP sequence into AE comps and it works great! I realize it’s not auto-magical round tripping but it works GREAT! I thought PP3 to AE would be even easier but apparently it’s not. Unless I’m just missing something.

In PP3 when I select a clip or sequence and choose new AE Comp from the dynamic link menu it doesn’t translate my sequence to AE. I found I can copy my Premiere content into AE and it seems to keep it’s edit points. I can then bring my AE project back into PP3 like placing a Motion file in FCP. The AE file still needs to be rendered in PP3. While being able to edit the original AE file is nicer than opening up AE and rendering out another version, it’s no deal breaker.

Maybe I was expecting too much. But I thought Adobe’s Dynamic Link would work like Automatic Duck’s AE export from FCP and then just place the AE file into PP3. I was disappointed and frustrated.

So if anyone out there is loving the Adobe Video Production workflow, am I missing something? Can you point me to a tutorial to enlighten me? Am I just doing this wrong? I searched around for about an hour yesterday and couldn’t get this nailed down.

July 18, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Tech Stuff, Video. 2 comments.

Fall 2008 Kickoff Catalog

I’ve been wearing my print design hat lately. This was a project I needed to finish up before I left on vacation but I didn’t so it was waiting for me when I got home. I finished up the design layout today. Now it’s proofing and imposing before it goes out to the printers on Friday.

The design is nothing to write home about. It’s clean and simple with plenty of white space. Our church really focuses on being multi-ethnic and multi-generation so anytime we can we try to use pictures to represent that. The color scheme is monochromatic on each page but walks around the color wheel as you go through the magazine. I tried to group similar things together.

It’s going to the printer’s on Friday so if you have any ideas/ suggestions let me know. This is the un-proofed version. It’s getting proofed today so if you find any typos give yourself a gold star.

The link is to the high-res print version (11mb)

GOC Fall 2008 Ministry Catalog Print

Here’s the low-res web version (2mb)
GOC Fall 08 Kickoff Ministry Catalog Web

I used Bridge, Photoshop and InDesign CS3 and Adobe’s FontFollio.

July 17, 2008. Tags: , , . Graphic Design. 2 comments.

Productivity

I don’t know if you’re like me but I’m always tweaking the way I keep myself organized. I know the key to staying organized is by sticking to a plan that works for you. Let me see if I can recap some of the ways I’ve kept myself organized in a somewhat chronological order:
-Month at a glance calendar and yellow pad
-Franklin Covey Printed Planner
-Franklin Covey electronic planner on Palm and PC
-iCal and it’s ToDo lists
-Backpack and Basecamp from 37signals.com
Vitalist
-Moleskin notebook

I’m happy using iCal for my calendar it syncs great with my iPhone. But the todo lists don’t sync, even though they scyncd with my old Razr (I think).

For task management there are a few things I like. It’s my hybrid version of “Getting Things Done” by David Allen:
-Project based so I can break projects into smaller tasks
-I like breaking my tasks into categories that reflect how I work or my energy levels during the day and week:
+Need to do today (things that have to get done today
+Need to do this week (what has to be done for the weekend
+Creative (Tasks I need to be creative to get done)
+Technical (tasks that are more technical but not brain dead activities
+Grunt (these are my non thinking tasks like cleaning up after an event that don’t require much brain power)

I like breaking up my tasks into these categories so I know what needs to be done and I can choose what to do based on my energy level. I hate fighting through a creative wall on Tuesday afternoons because that is one of my least creative times of the week. So I’ll take care of technical or grunt work during that time. Having a has to be done today and week list helps me know when I have those days I have to power through my creative quagmire and create something anyway.

I was really enjoying Vitalist.com on my iPhone but it would run slow at times, really slow. So I’ve been just using a pocket moleskin as my todo list and brain dump. I find keeping one notebook to write down ideas works a lot better for me b/c if I just use yellow pads I end up with multiple yellow pads that are partially filled and I end up not bringing the pad I need with me. But I don’t like it as my todo list as I loose track of my todo’s in my brain dumps, brain storms and notes.

Well with the iPhone’s 2.0 software release brought OmniFocus to the iPhone as a native app that will sync via MobileMe to OmniFocus on my Mac. While it’s not the cheapest solution ($79 for Mac software/ $19 for iPhone software/ $99 a year for MobileMe) I’m digging it so far. I have the demo of OmniFocus and Mobile me so I payed $19 for the iPhone app to test it out. I wish they had demo software on the App Store!

It gives me the main feature I like in a todo list:
-A way to have a mental dump
-Break projects down into smaller tasks
-Code tasks for energy level
-Clean design and good interface on my mac and iPhone

I need to spend some more time tweaking it but I think I’m going to stick with this and my pocket moleskin as my mind dump/ notebook.

How to you guys keep yourself organized? What systems do you use to harness your creativity for maximum results?

July 16, 2008. Tags: , , , . Personal Growth. 4 comments.

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