One of the young men I had the pleasure of mentoring and encouraging over the years is Camron Ware, today’s leading expert on Environmental Projection in churches. Camron has been a strong proponent of curating your own content for use in worship services on his blog, and has helped countless churches leverage lighting and video technology in surprisingly affordable ways. Back when a few of us church tech directors were using $100k+ projection systems to achieve high-end environmental projection, Camron started finding ways to do it on the cheap. He innovated, and today churches are better for his DIY mindset and hard work ethic. So, when Camron asked me to check out a new mobile app called “Shift Worship” that he helped develop, I was more than a little excited to try it out.
The Shift app’s purpose is to allow anyone to capture still images and edit and manipulate them for use as backgrounds for church presentation software (song lyrics, sermon notes, etc.) as stills or as motion graphics. There are plenty of apps for editing photos, but one that includes looping video options is pretty hard to find; and one that is made for churches and allows for easy curation – well, this is in a class of its own.
Simplicity is the key of any great app, and Shift has done the understated very well: it needs no instruction to start using it, thanks to a built-in step-by-step interface. Powerful features are equally important, and this app is well and truly loaded with the kind of power that rivals it with some of the better photo editing apps on the market.
Because it’s so easy to use, it’s also easy to explain visually – which is exactly what I’ve done below in a sequence of images that shows exactly how the Shift app works. From top left to bottom right are the 11 sequential iPhone screenshots I took while making and saving a new still image and motion background in the app. Take a look at the image slideshow below, and touch the screen/use your mouse to see the caption for each screenshot.
Once completed, the movie was uploaded to the Shift Worship website, where I was able to download it in full 1920×1080 HD resolution to my computer. I’ve uploaded a smaller version below to show the final result.
Using the editing tools within the Shift app are also very straightforward and powerful. Here are a few screenshots that show the built-in editing power.
Clearly, the Shift app is simple and powerful, but at only $5.99, it’s not going to keep the company in business. That’s why they thought ahead and saw that users would want to be able to curate their content online and access new content directly for their church presentation software. To allow for this, they created ShiftWorship.com, a single-source repository of your own content, new free downloads, and third-party developed content packs that include the images, motions, and even the Photoshop .PSD files. It’s also where their business model provides them with the income to grow the business, as access to the site is a flat rate $149, paid up front for an annual subscription.
They add new content weekly and offer free downloads just as often, so the cost is understandable – even reasonable. Software is an expensive business to keep up-to-date, so this kind of fee won’t be a major hurdle for any church that understands the value of what the Shift app can add to their visual experiences.
In addition, there’s a new community that’s sprung up on Tagboard.com, which aggregates hashtags across multiple social media sites. By adding the tag #madewithshift, users can share snapshots of their creations.
With options like the Creative Commons license, it would seemingly be straightforward to allow users on ShiftWorship.com to not only curate their own content, but to decide what they want to share with the community. This is the single biggest opportunity and missing component of Shift: sharing.
Still, developing software is a process. And, as of this writing, it’s still at version 1.0.1. In the words of Seth Godin: “ship it!” Well, they did ship it and it’s a great start that’s filling a tremendous need for custom content creation and curation. I spoke with Camron about the much-needed sharing functionality and he assured me it’s a high priority on their development roadmap (as it should be). I was once told that you almost have to be embarrassed when you first ship a product, because if you want to actually start, you’ve gotta ship it instead of polishing it forever prior to release.
Without question, the team at Shift has a fairly polished first edition that has nothing to be embarrassed about for an initial launch.
The current app is only available on the iPhone and iPad, but it’s really just optimized for iPhone 5. The need for native apps across the mobile market is also going to be addressed in future releases, according to Camron.
However, even without the sharing functionality, Shift Worship is a tremendous value for any and every church. The Shift Worship app and website bring quality content creation and curation to the church market with all the promise of even more innovation in the future.
What features do you hope to see in future releases? Comment below.