Saving a Sunday Service

At church, I am in charge of the data projector, and so setting up and running services from OpenLP is my job. This Sunday I had to suddenly run to the rescue, as I hadn't received any communications from the service leader during the week, and we were going to be having a play in church.

Firstly, I had some movie files, in mp4 format, which someone only wanted the audio of (they were going to be used in the play). Then they also needed a title screen for the purposes of the play. Lastly, the service leader wanted three pieces of liturgy to be displayed during the service. Oh, and one of the songs was to be played at the same time as the title screen was to be displayed.

Fun. Thank the Lord for open source software!

The first thing I did was to extract and transcode the audio from the movie files using ffmpeg, the best video conversion tool around. Since I knew the audio was likely in some encumbered format, I transcoded them to Ogg Vorbis. Then I queued up all the files in that piece of awesomeness called VLC, ready for the play.

Once the audio files were set up, I worked on a title screen. The play was a parody of "Britain's Got Talent" which we called "MCC's Got Talent" (our church's initials are MCC, as you might have gathered). Once again, OSS came to the rescue as I fired up the GIMP and worked another "miracle." I chose two decent colours and dropped a diagonal gradient across a blank canvas the size of the screen. Then I typed up the words using the text tool, created a selection from the text, and created an outline by growing the selection and filling it on a layer behind the text. Next up a drop shadow gave the text some depth and after flattening the image, I saved it as a PNG. Then I imported it into OpenLP and dragged and dropped it into the service.

Lastly, I got hold of a piece of paper with the liturgy printed out, created new custom slides in OpenLP, and typed them up as fast as I could. Two minutes later, those too were in the service.

With that, the service was ready. All this was made possible through open source software... sure I could have done that with proprietary software, but what church is going to cough up money for PhotoShop and otherf costly software for the odd occasion when it is needed?


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