A New Font For Worship
Recently I’ve been focusing a lot on visuals during our time of sung worship. This means the way we display song lyrics and the backgrounds which they sit upon.
The resource I use most is Church Motion Graphics (CMG). Originally they started by providing packs of motion backgrounds and still images from those packs.
It has since then started providing social media templates, sermon slide suggestions, free still backgrounds, guides on how to makeover slides, a Facebook community to share questions/answers/inspirations and much more!
One of the most recent resources which has swept the CMG community is a new, open-source font; CMG Sans.
So what is CMG Sans exactly?
Choosing the right font for your worship slides can be difficult. It’s important to present the lyrics that your church community sings in a way that’s clear and easy to read. However, it’s also important to display them in a way that looks good and fits well with current design styles.
This often leads media operators to either choose from a boring selection of fonts built into the computer or scouring the internet for fonts to download from thousands of confusing options.
CMG Sans is based off the popular Google open-source font, Montserrat, and has a few adjustments which make it more useful in a worship environment.
Firstly, some of the characters have been adapted. The letters G and J are the most obvious, with there being an additional font just for numbers for use in a countdown so they are monospaced.
Personally, I don’t mind these differences between the two fonts, and use Montserrat on the Brits and Grits podcast.
Jeff McIntosh, CMG Sans creator, even did a direct comparison against a font which Chapel uses to highlight the differences between the inside of letters.
CMG Sans is a great font and isn’t just used by churches for worship but on their social media, printed materials and websites.
It’s a totally free, open-source font which means anyone can use it. It is certainly one of the best assets which CMG has created recently.
Chapel’s Worship Visuals History
So how did we come to use the font at Westminster Chapel? Let’s take a quick flick through Chapel’s worship visuals history.
When I first joined Chapel in 2013, they had a single screen above the pulpit and were projecting in 4:3. All the lyrics were at the bottom of the screen and used Chapel’s brand font Proxima Nova.
The lyrics had to be at the bottom of the screen so if you were sat at the far edges of the auditorium, the lyrics could be seen.
Additionally, we displayed whole verses or choruses at one time on a static background.
Over time, I shifted us to display up to four lines of lyrics at a time and added in some subtle motion backgrounds from CMG.
— Chapel Tech Team (@ChapelTechTeam) February 4, 2017
The next big change was going to two lines, vertically center them and add a line fill background.
I did this for our Easter services, as it was a special event and gave me a good reason to try things out.
A reoccurring theme at Chapel is that I am given so much grace and creative freedom when it comes to trying some of these things out. There were times when things were a bit over the top, but I learnt and changed them.
Special events are a great reason to try something out, as it may only be a couple of times, so you can go back to the drawing board after and import what you’ve learnt into your regular setup.
— Oliver Needham (@OliverNeedham) April 7, 2017
In October 2017, after a successful trial of two widescreens at our 2016 Christmas service, we had a major upgrade. This includes a PTZ camera, vision mixer and two rear projected 16:9 1080p screens.
This lead to the next evolution in the design. Black line fills, vertically centered text and most colourful background.
We took receipt of our new equipment yesterday! It's looking pretty swish. pic.twitter.com/ESCndD3UVg
— Chapel Tech Team (@ChapelTechTeam) October 21, 2017
— Chapel Tech Team (@ChapelTechTeam) October 13, 2017
This design stuck for quite a while as adding the black line fill allowed us to use all sorts of background and keep the text legible.
Then came along CMG Sans. I’d seen a post about it on the Facebook group, and decided to give it a go.
Initially all I did was change the font within the template we already had. The week I tried it, we were also using the August 2018 motion pack which had shapes as the main focus of the motions.
— Chapel Tech Team (@ChapelTechTeam) August 19, 2018
I’d seen a suggestion that said drop the line fill and add a shadow to the text so the rectangles don’t battle against the motioning shapes. That was the next change I made in September, which brings us to what we use today at Chapel.
As you can see, the text is still legible even without the line fill and stands out reasonably well.
One of the things that is difficult is picking which CMG packs to use. We don’t always use the most recent pack and mix it up most weeks, leaving it up to the visuals operator as to what to choose.
In the example above I used a pack that looked like rain, as it was the first torrential rain we’d had in London for some time!
The latest pack, Noise Play, doesn’t really fit our aesthetic or style on a Sunday morning, but it will be in the back pocket for an event where it does fit! It’s not easy designing motion graphics which are used by thousands of churches across the world.
Find out more about CMG
Church Motion Graphics is a great resource that I’d recommend to a lot of churches. There is so much on offer and with a few different levels of subscriptions, there should be something to suit you. They’ve even put together a document to help convince the people with the purse strings on why you should be able to subscribe to CMG!
More over, the CMG team are active in the Facebook community they setup and do answer questions via Facebook Messenger as well.
Jeff does a fantastic job in putting his heart and soul in to CMG and all that it outputs. Long may it continue to glorify the kingdom of God.
This blog post was written in response to a post from Jeff on the CMG Facebook community.