Feature Review: Stage Monitor Output
One of the frequent requests we've received over the years has been the for a secondary display output. This request has come in several variations, one of which has been for a monitor dedicated for use by the worship team or choir. Up till now, if you wanted your worship team or choir to view lyrics to songs on the screen as they're being presented to the congregation, you would have installed a stage-facing screen or on-stage video monitors, then connect them to the same signal that your house projectors receive. The other option would have been to install two separate projection systems.
With the May 2009 Edition of SongShow Plus, you now have the option to send a secondary display output signal from your projection computer to your stage monitors. The output for this signal is constructed differently than the house signal in that it will place an emphasis on readability vs. appearance. For background, only a solid color is used. Foreground text will also be rendered using only a solid color. Effects (including shadow), animations, and transitions are also eliminated from this output.
For songs and scripture text, the text areas are preset to use the entire area of the slide. All layout settings are ignored. For SongShow Plus slide shows, layout settings are used, but the background is eliminated, foreground text is solid color, and shapes are a mix of the background and foreground color. Videos and third-party players/presenters are not supported in the stage monitor output at this time.
Here is an example of a song slide and how it might look in the stage monitor:
Here is another example showing a lower-third layout and its accompanying stage monitor output:
As you can see, the stage monitor does not follow the layout of the song slide. You'll also notice that while the song slide is showing text line-by-line, the stage monitor shows all song text verse-by-verse. Also, for songs, title information is not presented on lyrics slides since that unnecessarily uses precious screen space. For scripture text, the scripture reference is placed at the top of the slide.
You'll also notice that the two stage monitor outputs are white-on-black and black-on-white respectively. You can actually choose which colors to use for the background and foreground colors in the User Preferences window. This lets you use that green-on-fuchsia combination that you like so well ;-)
Using the stage monitor output does require that your system have three video output ports, one for the control window, one for the house display, and one for the stage monitor. This will be the first barrier to using this new feature since most systems will typically have, at most, two display output ports. Fortunately, because the stage monitor output uses a reduced set of features, you don't need a high-end graphics card to use the stage monitor output. The graphics card doesn't even need to provide DirectX support. This means that you can purchase a low-cost video card to install in your system or go with an option like what GoFishMedia is selling, a video adapter that plugs into an available USB 2.0 port.
This new feature fulfills a wish that has been on our list for quite some time!