Getting It Right the First Time

by Terry Wilhite

My objective today is to help you get your multimedia software picks right the first time.

It's been my observation that typically ministries hone in on the right choice of audio, video, and multimedia software on about the third or fourth try. Usually, the first guideline that's used to make a software purchase decision is price. What happens more often than not, however, is that money is ultimately wasted on trying various brands of software when the industry standard could have been purchased to start with. Why do we do this in ministry? Often times, there's just no knowledge of what advertising agencies and corporate graphic design departments are using. Why are they the standard?  Professional creative types in these departments know what will give them the best end result in the least amount of time. 

But what I believe is the ultimate barrier to getting software picks right the first time is fright! Often it appears that the learning curve for industry-standard software is just too steep a hill to climb. So I want to give you the secrets of the professionals to reduce this fear.

Professionals don't spend countless hours in trial and error learning new software. Time is too precious. They choose a "family" of software, such as those offered by Adobe. For example, in Adobe's latest release of its video-audio lineup, user interfaces for each title look strikingly similar. Learn one, you pretty much know how to maneuver in another. That's really nice. Further, there are no time-wasting conflicts between software titles because they each reside in "one happy family." Further, you can often use the features of one application inside another. For example, you can edit the audio in your video inside Adobe Audition without leaving Adobe Premiere, the video application, or edit native Photoshop layers while working inside Adobe Encore, the DVD software.

While seminars are certainly one way to learn these applications, I recommend a company called Total Training ( Some of you may be saying, "Wait, we can't even afford the software, much less the training!" Please hang in there with me.

Usually the biggest limitation to quality training for those of us in ministry isn't the absence of money, but the lack of creatively managing our resources. Why not go in with other churches to purchase these training products? Many conventions, associations, and denominational "headquarters" already do this for local churches. If this isn't offered in your area, you should ask for it or spearhead the cost-saving effort yourself.

Or, why not get all the people who contribute digital photography at your church to go in together to purchase Total Training's Digital Photography and Adobe Photoshop DVD or Adobe Photoshop Tips and Tricks? Either title is just $49.95.

Regarding the concern for the cost of the software, the good news is that "lite" versions of the full titles can sometimes be purchased at a fraction of the price.

For example, when it comes to video and audio editing software, my pick is the Adobe Production Studio Premium which includes Adobe Premiere 2.0 (video editing), Adobe Audition 2.0 (audio editing), Adobe Encore DVD 2.0 (DVD writing), Adobe Photoshop CS2 (photo correction and manipulation), Adobe Illustrator CS (graphic design) and Adobe After Effects (video special effects). Granted, this package is $1,700. However, you can purchase just the titles you need, greatly reducing the price, or buy Adobe Premiere Elements and Adobe Photoshop Elements for around $150.

I've found Total Training's DVD-based titles to be exceptional. Each one allows you to work alongside Adobe specialists. These trainers are industry legends in their respective fields.

Another Total Training title that I've reviewed and recommended is Adobe Creative Suite – From Design to Delivery. This resource covers the Adobe Creative Suite 2, my pick for print design. It includes Adobe InDesign CS (page layout and design), along with Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0 (PDF creation and editing), Adobe Illustrator CS2 (graphic art design), and Adobe GoLive (Website design).  My preference is Macromedia's Dreamweaver over GoLive, but because Adobe purchased Macromedia last year, these Web design resources will only strengthen.  Total Training's Dreamweaver training is super. I highly recommend it and wouldn't advise using Dreamweaver without it.

In summary, our message deserves the best presentation. By sticking with industry standard software titles, you can use precious financial resources wisely, save a great deal of valuable time, reduce your learning curve significantly, and most importantly, communicate clearly.

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