I loved this video. Great way to image the birth of Jesus in our digital age.
I loved this video. Great way to image the birth of Jesus in our digital age.
I love the tech that comes out of the student and college/young adult ministries at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. These guys have brought us some great blogs like steveostudios.tv fun and solid content in their podcast churchtechtalk, usable free resources at stufficanuse.com, now a few cool products at digitalstache.
Their latest resource for ministry, Spin That Wheel, is not free but is worth it weight in SPAM (SPAM is considered gourmet food in Hawaii). We saw this game for the first time at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference last February (register for this years conference before they sell out again).
Here is a brief description from their product website… “Spin That Wheel is a rockin large group interactive game. As a stand alone application, the software allows you to add up to 15 custom prizes to the wheel, then spin it to see what you get! (Wow, I just won a bag of Pork Rinds*) It has a random winner every time. Find yourself a great host, a really bad outfit, and you are in for a great night.”
*Prizes not included.
The students in our ministry love this game and I want to share a copy with one of you for your ministry. To get a chance at snagging a FREE copy, you must take the following TWO actions:
1. Leave a comment below. Tell us how you are PLAYING GAMES using TECHNOLOGY. (ie. Spin That Wheel, PowerPoint Games, Race This, etc…share your best idea with us). Leave your twitter name in the comment.
2. Follow youthministrygeek on twitter. We will send you a direct message if you are the winner.
On Friday December 17 we will pick the post with the best “tech game” idea and send a copy of Spin That Wheel for FREE! If you don’t will you can always pick up your own copy at digitalstache.com. Soon you’ll be able to pick it up at Simply Youth Ministry also.
I’m not sure how I missed this one, but my buddy Dave Harris showed me MyFav.es today. It allows you to create a custom homepage for your browser with just the links you want. Think your google homepage, but pretty. They have a ton of sites to choose from or you can create your own links.
Best of all it’s free. I love it. Give it a try.
… Continued from Part One. As I mentioned, I have been working on a youth ministry training podcast, 10-Minute Training, and after publishing about a dozen, feel ready to share the process here. This post wil look at the recording process itself, and the final post in the series will cover editing and publishing.
Now that you’ve got your gear set and scheduled some recording time, you’re ready to go! I am a mac guy, so I use the great multi-track recording software that comes bundled with every mac: GarageBand. If you aren’t a mac fanboy, you can opt for a great free open source option: Audacity.
The way it works with my setup is I open wiretap and select my inputs: Shure X2u to record my voice and Skype audio to record its audio. It then creates a virtual audio card with four channels that can be selected in the audio preferences of GarageBand. After doing that, I select which audio goes to which track and I’m ready to test the audio levels. The one thing that I dislike about GarageBand is its audio meters. They are small and not extremely accurate. Instead of trusting them, I test record audio from both sources a couple of times until they are as loud as possible without distorting.
The reason for doing all this work to get the different audio sources on different tracks is simple. Though I want to be able to get a podcast that is pretty much ready to chop into 10-minute pieces and publish, I want to be able to go back and fix problems like if the audio levels are too different, the guest wants to edit something out , or if a cell phone goes off in the guest’s office, etc.
A cheaper, but more time consuming, solution for this is to buy Call Recorder from Ecamm. With this method, you record the skype call in one file and your audio in another. After it’s all over you import the two files into the editor and move them around until they are synced (tip: make a loud noise at the beginning that can be heard in both audio files… then you match those sounds together… much faster!)
I generally shoot for recording about 30-45 minutes of audio in each interview that I can then chop down into three episodes after it’s all over. While doing the interview, I watch the clock and when we come to a stopping point at about ten minutes, I make a break and start over as if it was a new episode (which it will be).
After it’s recorded, I go through the effects to get a good sound on the voices, I generally use male narrator for both the Skype audio and my own. I save the file, open another and get my next guest on the line. Over and over again until they are all recorded and saved!
I find myself reading a lot on the iPad. It’s become my morning paper. It took me awhile to find apps that made it an enjoyable experience. Here’s the 3 that I like best.
I love the look and feel of Flipboard. It’s one of the nicest UI out there for the iPad. The one thing that gives it the number 1 spot is the fact it will pull in my facebook and twitter feeds and turn them into a magazine like experience. It’s the most enjoyable way I’ve found to keep up with all the info that flows through there everyday. They also have a great curated group of feeds you can add, so you can keep up on other news topics also. It’s also FREE, which is always a good thing.
The early Edition is at it’s heart a RSS feed reader, but it does it in a way that makes it look like a newspaper. It also comes with a nice set of suggested feeds for you, but you can also add any RSS feed you like and divide them up like sections of a newspaper. I’ve been using it more and more. It might not be free like Flipboard, but a few bucks isn’t bad to get all my reading in once place.
This one is more like honorable mention, but I thought I would add it in here. It’s also got a real pretty look, but I don’t find it quite as nice as Flipboard. It also allows you to add in any feed like Early Edition, but it’s much more linear in its presentation of the feeds. The nice thing about Pulse is that it recently went free, and they also have an iPhone version also.
What’s your favorite?
We have something fun going on at Simply this week. Get double rewards points on all purchases. (only till Friday Nov 19).
If you don’t know where to start, check the new gifts sections and pick nice out for your Students, Volunteers or Parents. It’s never too late to start your Christmas shopping.
At SYM we are in the midst of app development, so I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Why are there so many apps out there? Do we really need another one? The answer to these questions for me is: 1) Apps make people’s life easy, that’s why there are so many, and 2) Yes, see answer 1.
There’s a great post over at YouthMinistry.com from Matt McKee about mobile apps and why your church or ministry may need one. The article points out that these mobile devices are not just for the geek anymore, but they are part of everyone’s life from age 2 to 90.
Here’s his list of why you may need one:
- It gives you another access point that your local community can access.
- It allows you to be location sensitive. You can send messages to a certain zip code if you want.
- It can integrate social media so that people can help spread your message across the Internet.
- It helps you get past a Sunday or Wednesday only mentality, and let’s people interact with content on a daily basis.
- It makes your message 1 or 2 clicks away.
- It makes your content more convenient, and the more convenient the more it is used.
- It makes your message more broad-reaching than just your local community.
- It can help drive people to your church building for special events or weekend services.
- It can make special announcements such as community wide prayer requests.
- It can stream your message in audio or video format.
- It makes reaching a new demographic even easier.
- It will differentiate your vision and values from others.
- It will create different engagement than your Web site.
- It drives loyalty.
- It puts your branding in front of potential guests before they walk in the door.
- It provides a new way to collect feedback.
- It can be a new place for people to contribute to your church or ministry.
- It encourages people to share your message with the people around them.
- It can reduce the cost of mailings and the frequency of mailings.
- It can highlight new books or resources that go along with current teaching series.
- It creates a buzz that you message is relevant in today’s culture.
Read the entire post here: 21 Reasons Your Church or Ministry Needs a Mobile App | YouthMinistry.com.
Do you think your ministry needs an app?
A while back I began an interview-style youth ministry podcast called 10-Minute Training. Now that I have published about a dozen, I feel ready to share the process here. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do this. Mine is focused on making the least amount of work for me without giving up the ability to edit the podcast afterwards.
I am sure I don’t need to give you ideas on using a podcst in your ministry, but just in case, here are a couple:
- Daily/weekly devotion or thought for students
- Daily/weekly Bible memory verse
- Rebroadcast of your message
- Youth volunteer training/tip
- Parent update
This will be a series of posts. Part one will focus on describing the gear and basic schedule, part two will look at the setup and actual recording, and part three the publishing.
I don’t have the kind of time every other week to devote to recording, editing, and publishing the podcast. So in order to limit the weekly work, I schedule a couple of half days of recording every six months. I schedule the interviewees a couple of weeks before the recording date and get a basic outline of their training piece via email. Usually, I am able to get about 30 minutes of content in each one-hour session which is three podcasts. By doing it this way I cut the weekly work down to about 10-30 minutes depending on how much editing is required. If you end up doing it this way, I will give some tips for things you can do while recording that will make the editing easier months down the road.
I say work with what you’ve got. If you are starting, you may not need to buy anything, but I found a couple of purchases that streamline the process for me and bring the quality up a bit as well.
- Shure X2u ($99 on Amazon) – I reviewed this in an earlier post. This alows me to take any mic I have and turn it into a USB mic that can be recorded in my audio recording program. Though your built-in mic will work, this will make you sound professional without spending a fortune.
- Skype (Free) – This is what I use to get the audio from the interviewees. I also pay for a Skypein number so that people who do not have Skype can use a regular phone to call me on Skype. The cost for that is about $18 a quarter.
- Garage Band (Free with Mac) – I have access to high-end audio software like sountrack Pro, but have found that this is simple and quick to record and edit something as simple as a two person interview. It also has built in EQ and Compressors for podcasting that makes the mic and Skype audio sound a lot better. If you are on the Windows side of things, Audacity is a great free option.
- Wiretap Anywhere ($129) – This is a bit of a splurge, but worth it if you can swing it. Wiretap anywhere will take audio from any program or hardware device on your computer and convert it into a virtual sound card that allows you to record those pieces of audio on separate tracks. I tried several methods to get this working when I was researching and found this to be WAY above everything else in reliability and usability. This gets it all into Garage band live eliminating any later steps/synchronization.
- Squarespace ($10+ per month) – This is a content management system/hosting solution that I use for our youth site. It makes publishing the podcast content and feed as simple as posting to your blog. Pricey if you are only using it for your podcast, but worth it if you are shopping around for web hosting/authoring.
- Macbook ($999+) Even the most basic macbook will do the job. I will hold back my fanboyness here, but I think that for most youth ministers the ease, quality, and price of creative tools (most need no more than those included with every mac) along with stability makes it a no-brainer.
My advice with this sort of gear is to go as cheap as possible at the beginning. If the podcast does well, you can always add sound quality later. As far as I am concerned, the audio quality cannot make up for poor content, but great content can go a long way towards overcoming less-than-professional audio quality.
iShowU HD is the swiss army knife of video capture applications. Basically, any portion of anything on your screen can be captured and turned into a movie as well as allowing the program to simply follow your mouse from one area to another.
Say you are working in some online application that requires an internet connection to play back its content but the camp you are going to does not have an internet connection in the facility you are renting. Either you can run a 300 yard ethernet cable from the camp office to the meeting room on the other side of the lake with the cross on the other side, or you can draw a box around the portion of your screen that you wanted to show to the students, press record, do your thing, and stop the recording. That is all it takes to get that content off the internet and onto your hard drive.
On top of that, iShowU HD automatically formats those movies for YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, Viddler, iMovie, Final Cut, as well as giving you total access to the settings to output just what you want. You can try a demo (limited to 30 second clips) or download the full version (mac only) for $29.95 from the Shiny White Box site. No longer will you be trying to figure out how to download online visual content to use when you aren’t connected to the internet, and that to me is worth every penny of the inexpensive price.