WHAT’S COOL: In a landscape dominated by Windows-only presentation software, it is great to see a number of new or re-worked apps for Macs. Many churches produce videos and backgrounds on Macs, so it makes sense to enable them to present on a Mac. The new kid on this block is iWorship from Renovatio Software ("Renovatio" is Latin for "Rebirth").
Opening iWorship is like taking a refreshing drink of water on a hot day—the interface is simple and straightforward. For basic to intermediate worship presentations, this software shines. iWorship includes the ability to import text files of song lyrics, and the software then breaks out the lyrics into slides that are easy to adjust. The songs can be managed in an iTunes-like library and quickly added to playlists. Each playlist opens in a new self-contained and uncluttered window, making it very easy to get your bearings.
Looping backgrounds, stills, live video playback through a firewire (IEEE) camera, and a simple DVD player also are included. The loops are handled very well and can be played as a global background or assigned on a per-slide basis. This could make it possible to mix stills and loops inside a set of lyrics for a more dramatic presentation rather than being stuck with one background for the whole song.
iWorship offers a new and simplified take on a process that has been frustrating a lot of people for a long time.
WHAT’S NOT: iWorship is still a new kid and is being developed by one very brave soul, Albert Martin. It comes with its share of “gotchas,” but it is worth mentioning that we discussed many of the following issues with Albert and he is very excited about correcting them for future releases.
For instance, iWorship crashed on us several times while adding media or deleting songs from the playlist and library. Also, video dissolves at a fixed one-second interval, and there is a slight dip to black during the dissolve. That means your text could transition at a different rate and look awkward.
Other issues include the fact that there is no emergency announcement overlay or a "Fade All" button, and there are some slight issues with text alignment. It’s also possible that the limited functionality of the DVD player could be confusing in a live environment. Though it is easy to import Scripture as text, there is no built-in Bible lookup module.
IWorship lacks support for setting aspect ratio, which is not much of an issue if all your content has the same ratio. However, a widescreen clip in a 4:3 environment would not letterbox. Instead, it would be stretched to fill the screen.
iWorship manages your media by making a copy of each video or photo, which is something of a double-edged sword. To its credit, iWorship holds onto files that could otherwise be accidentally deleted. On the other hand, this process could unnecessarily consume hard drive space.
A lot of playlist and asset management features are still to come. Presently, much of the library folder organization happens in Finder. Finally, to remove video and photos from the media browser, they must be deleted from their respective Movie or Pictures folder through Finder as well.
THE BOTTOM LINE: iWorship still has a long way to go, but it has certainly hit the ground running. Even with many of the suggested changes coming sometime in the future, Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, uses this software on a weekly basis. That makes a strong case for its stability and functionality.
We see a lot of promise in iWorship, but at $499 we think it is priced a little high for its current feature set. On the bright side, there is no additional site license fee, which makes it an affordable option for a larger church.
Give iWorship a try or, at the very least, keep your eye on it. The new kid has a lot going for him.
Genre: Presentation Software
Official Site: www.renovatiosw.com
Rating: 3.5 Stars (out of 5)