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Eight Projection Basics

I don’t know if your church has a projection system in the sanctuary, but the questions and comments I’ve received suggest that if you don’t already have one, you may soon. Because these systems can be used well or poorly, here are eight basic rules to keep in mind when preparing visual presentations for projection during worship.

  • Stay clear of the obvious when choosing photos or illustrations. Two of my favorite sources of creative images are Flickr (www.flickr.com—use the “advanced search” feature to filter your search to include only those images covered by the Creative Commons license) and Istock (www.istock.com—a huge collection of reasonably-priced images and illustrations).
  • Divide your screen into thirds— vertically and horizontally—for a more interesting composition. Locate your focal point where the thirds cross rather than in the middle of the screen.
  • Bleed images (and maybe even text) off the sides of the screen for interest.
  • Don’t be afraid of large type.
  • Break lines to encourage easy unison reading. Creeds and confessions and biblical verses are often already in that format. Keep them that way.
  • Pace yourself. Now that you have a great set of visuals, present them at a pace that will help lead the worship. If they lag behind what’s happening or flash by too fast, the poor timing will draw attention away from the meaning of the presentation and put the focus on the mechanics.
  • Have someone check your work. Because it’s hard to proofread your own work, you’re likely to miss the most embarrassing mistakes (which often show up in the very largest of headlines).
  • Keep it simple. Your fellow worshipers weren’t up with you until 2:00 a.m. putting the presentation together, and they’ll probably miss the subtle shift in color you added to represent the liturgy’s move from confession to assurance. In film, 95 percent of transitions are a straight cut. I’d suggest that 95 percent of the transitions in projection for worship should be a medium-to-slow fade.