For as long as I can remember, the standard for using backgrounds in worship has been to assign one still or motion to each song. But with the growing amount of media that we have available, as well as the more creative our worship services become, I think it’s reasonable to challenge that old school method.
In the same way that the music changes throughout a song and takes you on a journey, you can do the same with your backgrounds. You can use stills and motions to tell a visual story and really pack a punch in the powerful moments of a song.
There’s certainly a responsibility to this. Changes in graphics have the potential to be more of a distraction than an aid. But, I believe if executed properly and with intentionality, using multiple backgrounds in a song can bring a unique improvement to your service.
There are several different methods for arranging multiple backgrounds in your music. It will require thought and planning for each individual song. It’s best to take time outside of Sunday to experiment so that you have time to select the perfect choice for each piece. You can get really creative with this, but here are a few typical layouts:
- Use one background during your verses and another during the chorus
- Use one background for the majority of the song and another in the big, climax moment
- Use a different background for each part or element of the song
There is no right or wrong layout, but the goal should be to make your visuals feel like they flow naturally with the progression of the music.
When selecting multiple backgrounds for a song, remember that they should complement one another. Avoid jumping to different styles. Emphasize the various parts of your song by using backgrounds that differ in aspects such as color, animation, speed, and imagery.
Other Things To Consider
Just because you can do this for each song doesn’t mean you should. I typically do this for only one or two songs in a worship set. It has a greater impact when it isn’t the norm.
If you’ve never used multiple backgrounds in a song, a special Sunday like Easter or Christmas could be a great time to debut this effect.
It’s easy to get the same effect with only one background by using the various image controls in your presentation software. For example, you can adjust things like color, blur, and speed to create an entirely “new” background inside ProPresenter.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever used multiple backgrounds in a song at your church? Is this something you’d consider adding to your worship? Let us know in the comments below.
Notice: The backgrounds used in this post’s examples were provided by Church Motion Graphics. The Creative Pastor is owned and operated by Church Motion Graphics, Inc.
As a church we’ve always used multiple backgrounds for each part of a song. I definitely stay in the same background “family” when laying out my slides, which is where CMG comes in handy because I’ll mainly stay within one theme pack per song. As long as there is no harsh shift in style, I believe it is an excellent way to sort of tell a story within the song and help theme it with stage lighting effects.
Yes! Exactly. Good stuff, Daniel.
We just recently started projecting songs…just experimenting. Really enjoy your blogs and suggestions. Luis
I always feel like my (admittedly simple) lighting needs to match, or at least compliment, the projection background. Is there an easy way to change lighting colors when ProPresenter changes backgrounds?
I’ve set up songs with multiple backgrounds. More recently I’ve moved away but still use it for unique impacts.
For Our God I took a water background and then had it change to red at the beginning for the water turning to wine. Then blanked it out for the pause and at the darkness brought it a sunrise background.
I used some waterish particle videos from Graceway for Deep cries out. Each had their own speed and particle flows and it went perfectly with the slower and faster parts. I switched from the calm video to a more flowing at the “stirring up deep deep wells” I always thought it was awesome.
Right now I have a cross video running on Break Every Chain, and have dimmed it for the beginning and when the song switches to a stronger feel I brighten it for impact.
There’s a few other things I’ve done like using sepia for an intro and then for the drop have it last out in color (which I loved), but I lost that video and haven’t been able to recreate the effect like I want to with anything else. Also, I think there was a song I used a falling bokeh video, and the lyrics said something about our voices rising to heaven and I flipped the video to have the bokeh rising up (we normally switch to the cameras on the screen and used that time to change the background)
Sometimes I ended up removing them because, like you said, sometimes you shouldn’t, and I’m much better at knowing whether or not it serves a purpose.
Love your stuff!
I will use the same background for the whole song, but for a medley of songs, I will change the Hue/Saturation (PP6) for each new medley part. The response has been positive with this format. There are times I will use the same background for the entire service and just change the Hue/Saturation, but only if there is a particular theme for the day. This is also a great way if your library of backgrounds, whether motion or still, is limited. You can change the characteristics of the background and it appears you have a much larger library.
We do this for several songs but not all. As I have suggested to our volunteers the congregation can be aware of what we are doing but if they really notice it then perhaps we are doing something wrong. Our backgrounds and transitions need to support the song and its music not the other way around.
I like what you said at the last paragraph. That’s usually how we have a “multiple background” feel.
Sometimes, if the song starts off very slowly, we won’t fire a background until a certain point in the song. One of the more recent examples is “He Is Jesus” by North Point Church. In that song, it’s basically a piano and vocals for the first 2/3 of the song. We’ll wait until the band rolls in to fire a background for it.
What do you think? Thank you for providing such useful content!
This is great! We started doing multiple backgrounds and different fonts for our lyrics right before Easter. One of the things I would love to see is a resource with suggestions for songs so everyone doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Or for a person who isn’t as creative or is short on time. I really didn’t find much when I was starting this. The most I found was on CMG, they had a couple blog posts from awhile ago. It seems like something that could be given away to other churches just like people give away message graphics, etc.
I feel like its a bit distracting, its sometimes hard to find that balance.
We use the lights to do some change in the songs but we normally leave the background the same, or just don’t use one.
I think with backgrounds, your whole stage color needs to match (colored lighting matches background, etc). Whats your opinion on this?
We’ve done this maybe twice at my church. Once it was a very similar background pair where the 1st was less saturated and bright than the second, so that the lights could subtly change along with it. The other time, we started with no colored lights and a black and white background that slowly faded to color. We had the lights timed to dim on at the same time and it worked pretty well.
I am most grateful for such valuable information – almost gave up on video editing because things were looking too boring. This would surly spice things up.
Thanks Connor, that is one thing we have implemented in our worship and it keeps the service lively, i love your guidelines on how to do it
Used this look one Easter and went from the plain background to the one with the cross to “it is finished” in an instrumental. I think the song was Forever.