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Chris Tomlin’s Tour Hits the Road with Renewed Vision

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • April 24, 2013

ATLANTA – Contemporary Christian artist Chris Tomlin and his band embarked on a 36-date US arena tour, taking with Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter 5 lyric and media presentation software. ProPresenter 5 enables them to set up video cues in advance that can be triggered by playing a predetermined note. They can also display audience Tweets and can customize the live video to match the show’s pre-recorded content.

More details from Renewed Vision (http://www.renewedvision.com):

ATLANTA – Contemporary Christian artist Chris Tomlin and his band embarked on a 36-date US arena tour, and along with them for the trek is Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter 5 lyric and media presentation software.

Although Tomlin’s production team has now been relying on ProPresenter for well over a decade, the expanded feature set of the software’s latest version is allowing the band and crew to find new ways to improve the concert-going experience for fans on their “Burning Lights” tour.

According to Matt Gilder, Tomlin’s musical director and keyboard player, one of those improvements has been the ability to trigger video clips for the tour’s 13 ft x40 ft LED wall directly from his keyboard. Running Ableton Live on an Apple MacBook Pro, which also contains the show’s click and supplemental tracks, Gilder interfaces the laptop with his Roland A-500 Pro MIDI controller and to one of the tour’s video computers offstage running ProPresenter via Ethernet.

“For video playback on tours in the past, we’ve had to use SMPTE timecode and lock everything down to a click track with no getting off the map, “Gilder recalls. “But ProPresenter 5 enables us to set up a bunch of video cues in advance that I can easily trigger during performances simply by playing a predetermined note.

“To illustrate, ‘God’s Great Dance Floor’ has typically been the lead song on our set list for this tour. At the beginning of the show, I bring up the initial bank of videos I’ll be accessing by hitting a MIDI note at a certain velocity. Partway into the song, when I play a C#5, the first use of that note triggers the appropriate video to be displayed on the LED wall. Then, when I hit my second cue note–say G5–it triggers the next video right on time. Not only does this make life easier for our crew running the video switcher and lyrics, but it also ensures that video content is perfectly in sync with the songs, even if we stretch out a verse or chorus somewhere along the way.”

Although many of the videos triggered are strictly visual, some are paired with an audio track in Ableton Live–in particular, a spoken-word piece from Lecrae during the bridge of “Awake My Soul.” “I was really nervous about that clip, which is basically a close-up view of Lecrae’s face,” says Gilder. “The timing has to be absolutely perfect because the band drops out for a moment right on his last word. But now that we’re more than halfway through the tour, I can honestly say that this new approach has been super-tight with zero latency. Before this, I always thought that if we weren’t using SMPTE or MIDI timecode to lock everything up that we were just asking for trouble. But here we are on the biggest contemporary tour out there right now relying on ProPresenter every night and it’s working like a rock-solid champ. I’m extremely impressed.”

Video Director Rusty Anderson says they found other uses for ProPresenter: to post audience Tweets and to customize the live video to match the show’s pre-recorded content. “ProPresenter always keeps us looking great.”

The wraps up May 4. For more details on the tour, visit www.christomlin.com/burning-lights.

Photo: Bjorn Amundsen

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