I am not in the habit of writing product reviews on my blog, however this review was prompted by being asked for the n’th time what software I use at church to display words, videos and scripture on the projector. The short answer is to say that we use EasyWorship 2007. The reasoning behind using it is not that good really, as it was chosen before my time and as far as I know no one really did any major research into it. However since using it I have had the opportunity to really try and get into it and to see if there are any good alternatives to do the job. First of all we have three basic requirements, the first and most important was to be able to organise and display words during worship, the second is as a multimedia presentation platform (i.e. the ability to play sound, display video and PowerPoints) the third is to be able to display scripture during a sermon. Second there are the alternatives two of which I have tried in a “live” situation and two I have seen used very proficiency:
- Words of Worship - For the past three years running I have seen this in use each at Spring Harvest, from what I can gather it was chosen because it could display lyrics for songs on screen, other functionality can be provided by video mixing and chroma keying.
- OpenSong - For a while it looked like EasyWorship was not going to be suitable for our needs, this is the first of two products we used while we were sorting out our problems, it had the capability to display lyrics and scripture on screen. Although as far as I saw media presentation was not within its abilities. In addition it is free.
- MediaShout - This was the second application we tried in lieu of EasyWorship, the features seem almost boundless as it is extensible with plug-ins, however the user interface is very cluttered and is not the easiest program to drop into, that said MediaShout do provide extensive training as do several third parties.
- SongPro - I have seen this used in several Anglican churches and I must say it does its job properly, I have not however ever seen it play audio or video.
Finally back to EasyWorship. In the end it turned out that we were entitled to continue using EasyWorship as it was so we did not need to look into a different product, that said we had planned to purchase it again for the following reasons:
- It requires little or no training for the operator.
- It allows us to display lyrics, scripture, audio. video and PowerPoint.
- It has a convenient mechanism for searching songs (by title or by first line of verse/chorus)
There are other features that I like about EasyWorship that we are yet to utilize:
- Video Feeds - this could be really cool having a feed from a DV Camera on the screen, particularly if it was a big or unusually shaped room.
- Scheduling of all items - EasyWorship can add anything to a schedule it seems, currently we only add songs and PowerPoint presentations. With sufficient planning scripture and media could also be added. You could even go as far as adding music to be played at the start and end of the service.
Well that is the rather sketchy review, if I come up with anything else over time I will be sure to post back. If you have any of your own experiences please feel free to drop a comment.