worship tricks

worship tricks [first series]

no 9: gforce

andrew jones has been mentioning the visualiser gforce to me for quite a while now. well thanks to him i finally got round to checking it out. and it is fantastic! so go download it for yourselves. now most mp3 players have a visualiser that goes with them (making pretty swirly rave like fractals etc). itunes that i use has one that's great. so why get another. well the unique thing about gforce is that you can add your own images and movies in to the mix so that they are mixed in to the patterns. this is seamless. plus with a little bit of snooping about in the documents with it you can discover how to assign things to particular keys so that when you press them they appear. and it's also possible to write a sequence of patterns and images etc to link in. i have only just tried it out but it is wonderful. i use a mac but it also works with windows - info on the site. this is definitely worthy of adding to the list of worship tricks. i wrote a novice guide to gforce on the blog which is here below... this was for an older version running on mac OS9. if you visit the web site it has since moved on

gforce - a novices guide
gforce screenshotsmy ninth worship trick on this blog was to recommend gforce. gforce is a visualiser that works with several mp3 players. i'm an apple user so i use it with itunes but it will work with winamp and soundjam at least. check the web site for info and to download it. amazingly it's free. like lots of visualisers it makes pretty fractal type patterns. but there's more to it than that. what i like about it is that you can change it whilst its running - colours and patterns and so on. documentation comes with it so it's as simple as reading that and pressing the keys it says to do certain things. there is also a folder which on mine is in a folder called 'gforce files' which is in the itunes plug ins folder called 'sprites'. if you put images in that folder they are added into a random selection of things (particles) that the program throws in from time to time which is fun.

so connecting it with altworship, we did a service called 'god save the queeen' (a good excuse to play the sex pistols in church of course!). the guys who usually run video stuff at grace were away so all i did was to fill the sprites folder with appropriate images - union jack flag, queens head, pistols cover etc - and then leave the program running all through the service. from time to time an image would be thrown into the mix. see here for what the grace punk flag looked like!

there's more you can do as well. you can write scripts which you assign to certain keys to get the program to change patterns and put videos, images and even word sequences in as you wish. it's a little time consuming initially but it's well worth the effort. the programmers have set up an example script or two - on apple they are run by pressing ctrl key and a number. you can read what these scripts are in the folder called scripts. so one of the examples is on 'ctrl 5' - when you press it a video plays of a spinning world. if you look at the script it says the following:
0:00 Comet Animation

all this means is that after 0 secs start the sprite comet animation. it's that simple. now you can further influence what happens to that video by writing some instructions for how the video behaves and putting that in the folder 'particles (non auto)'. this will further affect the program in that once you do that it won't randomly select that video when the program is just routinely running.

with it so far? if you want to see the kinds of things that you could instruct in the particles (non auto) folder there is an example already written called 'example sprite' with explanations as to what it means. there is also a sprite called 'default sprite' - this again has lots of explanation in it. i simply worked out what i was doing from reading these. if you don't put any instructions in the particles (non auto) folder it will follow the default sprite instructions... so let me give a couple of examples of simple scripts i have written. i have put some screen shots of these you can look at so you can see what i am talking about. the first is using the grace logo which looks fab in this program. i have done two things:
1. made an image file of the logo - it happens to be black with a white background which seems to look great in gforce. it's called Background-gracelogo.jpg and is about 600 x 300 pixels 72 dpi . i simply put this in the sprites folder
2. i have written a script so that it will appear when i type Ctrl 8. this script is a plain text file (don't make it rich text) called '8 key' that simply says '0:00 Background-gracelogo'. in this case i haven't written anything to go on the particles (non auto) folder so it follows the default sprite instructions. if you want to, see what it looks like in action. simple but looks great!

to give another example of what i have done i have assigned lots of video clips (recorded as quicktime) to different keys. put them in the sprites folder and do the same as before. only for these i don't want them all randomly appearing so i have copied the example sprite and named it the same as the title of the video and put it in the particles (non auto) folder.

taking it up a gear, another thing i have done is put a sequence of images of jesus from cultures round the world in a script to appear every so often (i'll add these in as a worship trick soon if you're interested in where you can get them). this required doing the following.
1. putting a series of jpegs of the images in the sprites folder called christ1~.jpg, christ2~.jpg etc. (for some reason some images come out as negative - if this happens put the '~' at the end of the name as i have done and it makes it a negative of that.)
2. writing a script. i have called this '9 key' and put it in the scripts folder. it says this:
0:00 christ1~
0:16 christ2~ .....and so on.....
up to 24 images coming in every few seconds. i don't want these appearing randomly in gforce so i have also
3 put text files called christ1~ and so on in the particles(non auto) folder containing the same text as the example sprite file.

that makes for a pretty cool sequence of images like this buddy christ screenshot - much more organic than displaying them in powerpoint say (though they can look good there too).

and lastly an example of a word sequence i have used. again this is a bit of effort but it can be very effective. there are thirteen lines in the word sequence i have written so for each line i have written a series of plain text files call1, call2 and so on and just put the words 'relax', 'god is here', 'you are welcome' or whatever.... in each one and put them in the sprites folder. then i have written a script assigned to '0 key' that looks like this:
0:00 call1
0:10 call2
0:20 call3....etc
this goes in the script folder. then i have written instructions as follows for each one called call1, call2 etc in the particles (non auto) folder as follows




this is pretty much the same as the example sprite but the only difference is that i have put the font and size in to make the words bigger. again if you want to, see it in action here

that's as much as i have discovered from looking through the files that existed already. i'm sure there's more to find out about scripts etc but i haven't used them before. gforce loads all the files up before starting so be careful how many things you load into the sprite folder in one go or your system may either not cope, slow down or take ages to start gforce. this is a novice's quick tour. hope it helps anyone interested. but as i say you do get documentation with the programme that is better than what i can describe i'm sure.