I was asked by Jordan Mederich of WorshipMediaCreator.com to review Worship Media Creator, a church worship presentation creation tool. For disclosure, they sent me a copy of the program free of charge in exchange for an honest review. It’s taken me a while to really get into the nuts and bolts of it, (no fault of the software) but I finally have a good feel for the capabilities of this tool and wanted to let you all know what I’ve found. Catch my review after the break.
What does it do?
Worship media Creator lets you create presentations for worship services. You can also create media to use in other presentation software, like a video countdown, in which case you would probably export to video. You can also export to a stand-alone executable presentation. Not only can you create presentations, but you can use the software as a presenter, either in single screen mode, or on a separate screen if you have the computer connected to another screen or a projector. Currently, the software only runs on Windows PC’s, which is probably fine because the target market (smaller churches), probably would more likely have a Windows PC than a Mac. Since we use Macs at Thrive Church, I’ve been trying to get a handle on this software on a PC after hours where I work.
What’s it like?
This is the start screen. The layout is pretty straightforward. The top-bar controls are self-explanatory. Hit the green “+” icon to get started, or you can use the file menu to grab a presentation you’ve already saved.
Worship Media Creator has a number of template slide types to get you started, or if you prefer, you can start with a blank slide.
Once you are in the slide editor screen, you get more tools at the bottom of the interface. From left to right: Pictures, Movies, Standard Text, 3D Text, 3D Cube Effect, Text Countdown, 3D Countdown, Delete Selected Object. Note some of the tools I mentioned are hidden because I squeezed the window size down.
Here’s a simple slide I made with a custom image and standard text. Pretty simple. There is another row of controls just above the slide view, in the form of tabs. You can use these tabs to control the background images and transitions. You can also include audio files and control how they play back.
Here’s another screenshot with a video and a countdown timer. Notice on the right, every object has an properties inspector on the right side. The properties that display are dependent upon what type of object you have selected. For instance, a countdown object will let you set the amount of time to countdown, but this property would not exist for an image.
Here’s a view of the presentation control panel. You can only open/present one slide set at a time, but you can freely roam between slides.
The program is really simple to use. They have a ton of helpful tutorial videos on their site that do a much better job showing you how the system works than I felt like I could, and they have a user forum for even more help.
Who’s it for?
I’ve been corresponding pretty regularly with Jordan as I’ve been reviewing the software. While I am sure he would love churches of any size to start using the product, he made the point often that they designed this software for churches that could not afford the more expensive church presentation products out there. I did a check on current prices for these other products and Worship Media Creator is definitely priced significantly lower than these other products. So if you are a smaller church, trying to get started with media presentation, or if you are needing to step up from an office presentation software, Worship Media Center may fit the bill.
First, the software is REALLY EASY. I had absolutely no trouble creating slides, and presenting them. The interface is very straightforward and intuitive. And, if you need help, the video tutorials are concise and helpful.
Second, the ability to export to video is quite an awesome feature. Even if you never use this software to present, you can use it to create custom countdown videos. If you’ve ever purchased these from a stock media site, you know you can spend anywhere from $15 – $25 per video. You’ll probably use this feature so much that you’ll pay for the software in no time. They also have an add-on pack called the Loop Builder Stack Pack that gives you a ton of extra content to use for making awesome countdown videos or back ground video loops. it contains particle effects, lens flares, grains, textures, etc.
Third, I really think these guys want to make an awesome tool for churches. I mentioned earlier that I had been in contact with Jordan often. He was very open to listen to feedback that I had (see below), some of which will make it into a near-future release.
Fourth, it remembers what you do. When you create a slide or a text object, etc., the system remembers your last settings for that object and using that setting as you create new objects. Saves a lot of time!
What’s not awesome?
I do have a few “issues” with the package.
First, it is Windows only. Jordan explained that they want to be able to make a Mac version, but they need to see how well this initial release is received before they do that. We use a different product at my church, but I can honestly see myself using this product for making countdown timers – seriously. The problem is that I really do not want to run to my day job, after hours, to get to a Windows box to do this. So… windows people, BUY this so they can justify a Mac version (grin).
Second, there is no “show” management feature. In other presentation products, there is a part of the program where you can string many separate presentations (i.e. sermon slides, various song slides, announcement slides, etc.) into a control center, where you can choose from different presentations and control each one individually without having to invoke the file system. Unfortunately, there is no such control center in Worship Media Center. You have to go to “File” then “Open” on the menu bar to get to other presentations. Granted, they give you the ability to import presentations and create sort of a master presentation, but this is not an ideal process in my opinion.
Third, standard text handling shortcuts don’t apply. I am pretty handy navigating text using keyboard shortcuts. I was annoyed trying to navigate text entry boxes, not being able to do things like CTRL+A to select the entire text-box contents, etc..
Finally, imported video quality is lacking. This final issue has to do with the item of feedback I mentioned above. When I was trying to create a countdown video, I noticed that no matter how high I set the bit rate, the video quality was lacking from what I am used to. It turns out that the video resolution was standard def, not high def. For the churches in their stated target market, this is probably fine as most probably won’t have high def gear. But for me, this was a deal breaker as my church, even though small and budget-limited, is full of videophiles and gear heads. Fortunately, Jordan’s team is open to feedback and let me know that a soon to be released iteration will double the video resolution. That’s awesome. Bravo, guys.
What’s the verdict?
If my church were a small church (we are), if we had a tight budget (we are), if we weren’t already use a higher-end projection software (oops), if we didn’t expect HD video display (oops), and if we were a windows house or wouldn’t mind getting a windows machine (oops), then I would suggest this software to our tech team. Apart from the few not-awesome items above, I like Worship Media Creator. It is definitely more affordable than the other options, has some unique features, and they are going to address the video issue. Sweet if you ask me.
I already have some great ideas for countdowns, and I look forward to the update (addressing video resolution) to do a “second look” review, as I try to actually produce some countdown videos for church use. I might even do a tutorial/review sort of thing. We’ll see.