Beth Moore's Esther Featured on iTunes Main Page

I'll be honest... I'm a bit giddy about this.  Notice anything special about the "New Releases" tab in iTunes this week?   Esther on iTunes New Releases Esther on iTunes New Releases       Esther, by Beth Moore, is sitting there with Nickelback, Beyonce, David Cook and, with quite the juxtaposition, Ani DiFranco.  This is the first time anything LifeWay has put onto iTunes has gotten featured, and I'm pretty excited about it. I remember when we first started uploading things to iTunes (back in 2006) how excited I was to even be able to just be able to install the iTunes Producer app.  And, while I knew that 4 Cool Carols 4 Cool Ways (LifeWay's first iTunes album) wasn't about to set the world on fire, I knew that we were heading down a path to be able to have a voice in the world of digital media.  While many Christian publishers have gotten to the front page of iTunes many times before much earlier... I feel a lot of validation in my work the past few years to see us finally there. It's quite the month of milestones for me in regards to the digital downloads here at LifeWay; the simultaneous release of Beth Moore's Esther as a print product and digital download (on both iTunes and LifeWay.com), hitting over 1000 digital products available on LifeWay.com, and the first ever HD content released from LifeWay being a digital download. I'm honored to have been a part of these milestones at LifeWay and having been a part of helping create and distribute truly life-changing resources to the digital sector of today's culture.  It's a great feeling to close out the year and know that a good work has been done.
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Open Access: Choosing a Title

In this Open Access video, Dale McKleskey talks about the importance of choosing the right title for a product, and some of the processes that we go through to do so.  Dale not only hits on the Open Access project's study, Going Beyond, but also some of LifeWay's past studies by Beth Moore. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=47244421&uri=channels/30228/156826]
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LifeWay Downloads: A Heart Like His

As hinted at last week, Beth Moore's A Heart Like His Study is now downloadable from the LifeWay catalog.  These are individual use videos, running at the resolution of 360x240. A Heart Like His is a Beth Moore study from 1996.  It's amazing to see how visually she's changed with the times, but how sound and compelling her teaching has always been.  This study follows along the path of exploring the life and times of David, but Beth brings so much more to the table. I really admire Beth for the depth and inclusiveness of her studies.  She is able to flow from Bible passages to personal stories to studying Greek and Hebrew words.  The fact that the depth of her studies have led to so much life change and freedom from sin and self-doubt in so many women (and men!) is a testiment not simply to her teaching prowress, but the life-changing capabilities of the Word when examined closely. You can purchase the individual use versions of this study here.
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LifeWay Downloads: Max Lucado's 3:16

Today we released Max Lucado's 3:16 study for download in the LifeWay catalog. The videos are for Individual Use, which means they weigh in at a resolution of 418x240 (they are 16x9). The videos are based off of his new study about having hope in today's world, using the simple analogy of 3:16 hope in a 9/11 world. One of the best things about the study is the bonus materials of people's testimonies on how Christ has effected their lives. We're still working on how to best deliver those materials via digital downloads, because they really would be best served for presentation in a large group setting. Hopefully we'll be able to work something out soon. Also, the audio files from Beth Moore's A Heart Like His study were able to get out this wee. These are from a study she released in 1996 about David. Old materials, but still great Bible teaching. If the audios are released, I would imagine the videos might be following soon...
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LifeWay Downloads: Decisions about Encoding

As I mentioned in a previous post, LifeWay is beginning to offer some of our downloadable videos in standard definition.  There are a number of things that go into the decision on how to encode these things, but the biggest question is always what we should offer in terms of resolution, bit rate, and file size.  With standard definition, the resolution should be pretty well set: 640x480.  Of course, we shoot with DV cam, so that resolution actually gets bumped up above standard def, to 720x480.  And there's  one project I'm working on  that was shot in 16:9, so the resolution will be even higher (but not hi-def).So today I'm working with some hour-long sessions of a study we've previously released in low-res from Beth Moore. Since we're making it standard def (720x480), I have to really tweak the bit rate to make sure that the quality is worth the extra money that we will be charging for the video.  However, I have to make the file size small enough that a normal computer and internet connection can handle the download.  LifeWay does not yet have a download manager... so I can't go over the top with file size. The balance I'm at, for these files, is working at a 2000kbps variable bit rate.  While this is less than I'd like it to be... it's just about the highest quality I can go and still make a feasible product.  Why?  At 2000kbps, the file sizes are hitting 1000MB.  That's a big file to download.  Real big.  When I worked in the technology division, I had customers complain about 100MB files. The source files I'm working with are averaging 75GB.  So, being able to compress down to 1GB is actually an amazing feat (and one that is averaging 6 HOURS per encode... 12 files x 6 hours = 3 days.  Thank you, Mr. Weekend). So here's to an experiment in file sizes; is the quality of going from 360x240 at around 800kbps and 100MB worth 1000MB at 720x480 at 2000kbps? 
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