Song words – overlay or not?

The big question about song words is whether you
overlay them on your live video (if you have any) or still images or whether you
keep it all plain and simple. Here is my personal viewpoint…

Overlay or
not?

It’s not a technical question
any more, as every presentation package worth its salt will let you put a still
image or even a movie behind text. Also, if you have a mixer with a chroma key
or downstream key function you can overlay over live video from a
camera.

It’s more a question of what
you are trying to achieve. What is more important? That people can read the
words clearly, or that they can see what’s happening on
stage?

Here are my personal thoughts on
this:

– If any of the songs are new to
the audience, or they are not used to reading words on a screen you should
always start with NO overlay – just words on a plain
background.

– You can feature an
overlay in a repeat of a song, or in a chorus once folk have seen it once, or if
it is repeated later in the set.

– If
there are people who genuinely can’t see the stage and are relying on the IMAG
to see to know when to sing etc. it is OK to overlay from the start, but make
sure that your words are positioned on the screen to allow space for the IMAG as
well.

– If it is a concert rather than
a service or worship event, then I would probably go for overlay, as this
balances the requirement to see what’s on stage, but to be aware of the words as
well.

– if your IMAG is very weak, i.e.
you have poor shots, or bad camera positions, or limited number of cameras, or
inexperienced operators, then take every chance you get to go to words only, to
give everyone a break from the IMAG. The IMAG will work better if used
sparingly.

– Always check with the
artists. They may have very strong views about overlaying, or they may not mind,
but if you don’t ask you risk distracting them, or worse offending
them.

In general, if there any doubt,
play it safe and stick to just words. Restraint is a hard-learned lesson in live
video.

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