Feature Review: Instant Message/Stage Message
Another new feature of the March 2010 Edition of SongShow Plus included in the new Improv Collection plug-in is Instant Message. This feature lets you quickly display a message on the screen. This is provided as a control panel plug-in.
Messages are automatically cached in a list for you. You can then quickly display any of these cached messages at a later time.
Message content is presented independent of any other media item being presented at the time and overlays any presented media item (with certain caveats). Message content is presented independent of any other media item being presented at the time and overlays any presented media item (with certain caveats).
You have complete control over the position and size of the message. You also have control over the font color and its shadow outline. The message can be set to scroll or blink, but by default, it will simply display. (The scroll and blink options require installation and licensing of the Video Effects Collection.)
The continer of the message, that is, the rectangular area containing the text, can be transparent, or be filled with an image or video. The Edge Blend effect can be applied to the container which softness the hard rectangular edge. (The Edge Blend effect requires the installation and licensing of Cinematic Effects Collection.)
Besides displaying straight text, these is also the capability to insert a few pre-defined field. The options for these fields are date, time, and countdown. Date and time are self explanitory. The countdown field provides you with a way to countdown to the nearest hour or the nearest half-hour. All of these fields can be displayed using various date/time formats.
The example below shows Instant Message displaying a countdown timer and using a video background as its container. The example slide show is looping in at the same time.
The Stage Message plug-in acts like Instant Message except that message content is placed in the Stage Monitor. This lets you send messages to those on the platform that are not seen by the congregation.
It may seem that this feature is the successor to Quick Message. While they are similar, it would be better to describe Instant Message as Quick Message's younger sibling. And while Instant Message has some new features that Quick Message doesn't have (image/video container, transparency, time/date/countdown fields, to name a few), there are some important differences between the two. For one, Instant Message is an embedded control panel plug-in, whereas Quick Message is a stand-alone executable that can be run independently from SongShow Plus. Instant Message's content is integrated into the presentation display. Quick Message, on the other hand, creates a separate window and places it on top of all other windows on the screen. This particular point is important because it means that Instant Message's content will not be visible when presenting things like PowerPoint slides, Flash, or Web Pages.
The Instant and Stage Message plug-ins provide a betterway to communicate spontanous messages to your congregation and platform personnel.
*The Instant Message and Stage Message is included as part of the new Improv Collection plug-in, available with a Professional Level license.