Media Tip: Make those screens Pop! part 1 of 3

I try and visit churches whenever I can – I love to see and hear what other churches are doing to create worship atmospheres. One common thing I experience is that churches usually have decent sound & video production equipment, it’s the presentation, or the use of the gear that is sometimes lacking. Now I need to preface this by saying that these are my personal opinions, definately not any kind of rule, just suggestions – I’m not saying that worship isn’t happening if these suggestions aren’t followed. So take it for what it is.

Here’s and example of what I see typically on screens:
lyrics 1

What’s wrong with that you may ask? Well rather than answering that, I’d rather just show you how I would change it to make it “pop” a little more, or look a little less “churchy”.

Change #1: Remove the punctuation – this isn’t an English class, it’s a worship service; we’re singing, not reading.

Change #2: Get rid of those uppercase letters! This makes the lyric more readable, softer, and accentuates the capital letters in words such as Jesus, Lord, Savior, God, King, etc.

Change#3: Get rid of those serifs. Choose a font such as “Arial” to get rid of those annoying accents on the strokes of the letters, it looks more modern and is much easier to read.

Change #4: Give the screen some room to breathe. There’s just too much up there, it’s intimidating, crowded, and busy looking. Add some blank space, some margins.
lyrics 3

Change #5: Make it your own. I personally like to give the screen a little more space and change the font to something a little softer and stlylized like “Lucida Grand”. This just gives it that final touch – to me it says we really care about how it looks.
lyrics 4

There you go, and the best thing is making this change is free! Let me know what you think, even if you disagree.

21 thoughts on “Media Tip: Make those screens Pop! part 1 of 3

  1. James

    Excellent ideas, Alex. I think often we don’t think intelligently enough about the simple things we can do like this to enhance the worship experience and make it more accessible to the church.

  2. eric

    Love it… I like to keep it to 2-3 lines per screen which gets difficult when you’re doing wordy songs, but it’s worth it. I’m finding that it’s not too hard to do if you just sing the song while you’re creating it. Cut it off where you take breaths.

    I think the key to making some of this work is training your PP Pushers (I just made that up). I mean the people who are running the PowerPoint or ProPresenter or whatever on Sundays. I make sure the PP Pushers are there for sound check every week so that they get to go through the set at least once before we start service. I know some of you have them at your practices which is even better.

    Can’t wait to see part 2…

  3. Steve Eller

    I like the idea getting rid of the capitals to highlight God, King, Jesus, etc…

    I also couldn’t agree with you more on not using a Times Roman type font. I think this can be applied to print media as well.

  4. andy

    I think those are great ideas. I think making the words easy to read and follow is paramount for those unfamiliar with those songs. On the flip side I have had a very difficult time at Life in the past following new songs because there were too few words per screen and the next line pops up at the last second. I think that is more disctracting than a cluttered layout. If it turned into an either/or type scenario, give me more words per screen and just do the best you can with layout. 🙂

  5. Billy Chia

    110% agree. the Lucida Grand looks really classy.

    Really excited you didn’t say, “Put a cheesy, distracting , sensory-overloading video or graphic behind the words thereby rendering them unreadable.”

    My tip: If your graphic can’t be classy, simple, and supportive of the text there’s nothing wrong with a black screen and white words.

  6. alex

    Billy, you’ll probably have a love/hate relationship with me after part 3… (I can’t wait)

  7. alex

    Andy, you bring up a very important point. Reducing the amount of lyrics on screen at any time requires way more concentration and work by the aptly named “PP Pusher” (thanks Eric). That person must be completely focused on the song and where the worship leader is going. We’ve struggled in this area for quite a while, but I think we are improving each week now, and we are trying to get them to come and rehearse with the band whenever possible. Great points!

  8. jamesmclean

    wow, a lot of this i never really thought about! Glad that God made you like that Alex to remind me of the things i overlook. I am going to show this to my powerpoint guy and see what he thinks, i’m always up for change and improvement.

  9. Debby Cook

    i loved all of your idea, and i love this blog. i have been searching for someone addressing the tech side of service that didn’t just want to talk about the sound equipment or the guitatrs! heeheehee i have been trying lately to use the same graphic behind each song but with editing changes that effect the colors. i like the look of the uniformity, it keeps the backgrounds from seeming busy, but still has some individuality for each song.

  10. Chris

    maybe one of these days I will start covering more of the visual sife of tech.

  11. mandy

    great tips!!!!
    those of us who don’t have paid techies need all the FREE help we can get!
    bless our hearts.

  12. jordan fowler

    sometimes punctuation is needed for clarity especially when quotation marks are used or a question mark reveals that a line is not stating but questioning

    (start slide two)
    as a graphics designer i would kill the centering if you look in applied arts or communicative arts at all the winning layouts the trend of moment is to not center very often

    (start slide 3)
    i would use a subtle non-moving background to reinforce the metaphor that will be communicated through the word preached very subtle of course

    (start slide 4)
    mix it up. we did an ancient feeling series and so we used a reformational printing pressed look including large initial cap on each slide and press fonts

    (have i made the case to sometimes use punctuation sometimes at least)
    crawl in. get dirty. serve the body.

  13. jordan fowler

    oh yeah (slide 5) and if you have not removed comic sans from your font list you should

    it is the first thing all designers do and they mock layouts using that dreaded font

  14. alex

    Rich: We use ProPresenter on a Macbook Pro

    Jordan: I agree about centering in graphic design – for me though anything but centered for lyrics looks odd, my opinion. I’ll talk about backgrounds in the upcoming articles. I like always using the same font because it almost “brands” the worship time – whereas in other areas we use multiple fonts, like in our lower third sermon points, ministry ads, etc. But I just like the songs to always look familiar. And I agree about comic sans… ew.

    Debby: nice point – uniform look helps drive home the point…

    Mandy: I know, Free stuff in our line of work is rare!

  15. jordan fowler

    There are reasons books are not centered…legibility. Just try it once on a layout…you might like it. I’ll try to throw up some samples

    In the total antithesis and to get really freaky, you’ll lose some legibility LEFT justify a week…very nice.

  16. Jen White

    I like having fewer words on screen.

    I also like those backgrounds that are busy and vibrant as long as they fit the tempo of the song.

  17. Billy Chia

    I think this has been one of your best posts. When are we gonna see part 2 and 3?

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