We have set up live streaming for a number of churches over the years. Some have been full blown operations complete with 4+ cameras and control rooms (drywall included :P), others have been simple one camera setups with hardware encoders. It’s not some thing we do all of the time but over the past week we have had a number of churches reaching out to us inquiring about live streaming. With the reality of Covid-19, we are so thankful for technology and the opportunity it affords us to still hold services where different expressions of the church can gather around a moment with worship and teaching.
On a personal note, my family and I have been journeying through the concept of rest and sabbath this past year. Although churches can’t/shouldn’t gather for the next few weeks, how cool of an opportunity to embrace the sacred rhythms of sabbath and find an even deeper level of rest during this time.
That my friends, is the real motivation for this post. I wanted to take a few moments and help eliminate any confusion and share a few simple tips for live streaming your services. There is enough to think about these days without the added stress of figuring out how to stream your services for the next few weeks.
On another personal note, online I have seen churches/staff moving heaven and earth and working obscene hours to keep church going in this moment of time. We here at SSc are all about excellence, but please keep in mind, stress and lack of sleep are known to impact your immune system and ability to fight infection. Let’s find a way to do church, but please take care of yourselves! Keep things simple and get some rest!
Okay enough personal soapbox moments, here are a few thoughts about streaming for your church in the coming weeks
WHAT DO I NEED?
To stream you really only need a few components. There are a lot of options for these components but it boils down to this. You need:
- A Camera
- A Video Capture Card (Only required if using a software encoder)
- A Computer (Only required if using a software encoder)
- An Encoder (Hardware or Software)
“I DON’T HAVE OR HAVE PEOPLE WITH TECHNICAL EXPERTISE”
Honestly, my advice is don’t worry about it!
Do you have a cell phone? Do you use Facebook? You can do a Facebook LIVE stream! Your phone has the camera and mic and the Facebook application encodes and creates the stream and uploads. For those out there on a budget or lacking technical expertise, why not just use your phone?
Here is a phone mount for a tripod that I recommend on Amazon (Photo above)
It allows you to stream landscape (sideways) or portrait (vertical) and fits most if not all smart phones out there.
It is literally that simple. If you found this blog and can click on this link:
You can livestream to facebook using your device!
Want to improve audio Quality? Get a bluetooth mic. This one on Amazon is just $180, is completely self contained, is chargeable, has noise cancellation and clips to your person.
As with all of the components I will write about in this post, with cameras you can get as intricate or simple as you like. Some churches already have multi-camera setups… GREAT! you can use them to stream quite simply. Skip ahead to learn about capture cards and encoders.
For this who don’t have a multi-cam setup with program feed, you can simply connect any camera with a CLEAN HDMI OUTPUT to a capture card/encoder. There are a lot of Digital SLR/Mirrorloess and Camcorders Cameras out there that do this. You or someone in your community may already have one.
In searching for a list of cameras that have clean HDMI out feeds I found this great website that further explains streaming and lists cameras with prices. Check them out! https://www.epiphan.com/blog/best-cameras-for-live-streaming/
At the end of the day, you just need a camera and an HDMI cable.
2) VIDEO CAPTURE CARD
If you plan on purchasing a hardware encoder, you can skip to section 4.
If you are going to use a computer with a software such as OBS to encode, you will need a capture card. There are tons of options out there, at the end of the day you need it to do one thing. Take the HDMI video feed from the camera and go into your computer via USB/Thunderbolt or some other way (Firewire etc. if your computer is older)
Over the years we have set up a number of churches with Black Magic Design production equipment. We highly recommend their products and for taking your cameras and putting them online we suggest the BLACKMAGIC DESIGN INTENSITY SHUTTLE USB 3.0 or the BLACKMAGIC DESIGN ATEM MINI.
BLACKMAGIC DESIGN INTENSITY SHUTTLE USB 3.0
This device receives video from your camera and can also receive a separate analog audio source (from say your soundboard) It takes that signal and brings it into your computer using USB 3.0.
They retail for about $300 CAD. You can purchase yours from AVShop.ca here
BLACKMAGIC DESIGN ATEM MINI
If you have more of a budget and you want to get a bit more fancy, we recommend the BMD ATEM Mini. This allows you to have up to 4 video sources, whether that be a mixture of cameras or a cameras and a graphics computer. You can cut between shots/sources and it also allows you to add up to 2 external audio sources for a more professional stream. You can purchase that from Vistek.ca for about $450 CAD.
Here is a great video looking at how this combo can be used to make some incredible streams very simply.
You can use any computer to stream your services. It doesn’t need to be state of the art, it can be a Mac or PC and it can be a tower or laptop. As long as it meets the basic specs to run OBS and it has the required port for your Video Capture Card to connect to the computer it will work just fine.
System Requirements for OBS
- Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux
- AMD FX series or Intel i5 (recommended, but not necessary)
- At least 4 GB of RAM (recommended, but not necessary)
Your video needs to be encoded and then streamed over the internet to Facebook, YouTube etc. You can do this using hardware or software (software is our personal preference because it gives easier control for setup and troubleshooting. In our experience, hardware encoders are easier to setup, but more difficult to troubleshoot)
If you prefer to keep things straight and simple we recommend the Epiphan Webcaster X2. In our opinion it is by far the simplest hardware encoder out there. You can simply plug your HDMI source into the box and configure it yo stream to your Facebook and YouTube pages. You can purchase one on Amazon here for about $550 CAD.
We have used a number of programs over the years, but our current favourite (LARGELY BECAUSE IT IS FREE… YES $0.00) is Open Broadcast Software or as it is commonly called OBS. This software lets you do so much. FAR more than we could ever cover in a single blog. You can create slides, green screen, do picture in picture, add graphics, play videos and much much more! OBS is pretty great. So if you are technically savvy or have a volunteer that is, it is a great resource for you. GRAB IT FOR FREE HERE!
Here is a video “Beginners Guide to OBS” we watched and found pretty comprehensive looking at using sOBS for your live stream
Another HUGE advantage of OBS is that you can actually stream to multiple places (like Facebook and YouTube) at the same time. Making your stream more accessible to people.
Check out this great video about streaming to Facebook and YouTube at the same time.
We really hope that this post has been helpful in shedding some light on all that is involved with streaming your services. At the end of the day remember to keep things simple and attainable. Every component you add to the stream means more time and energy from you and your volunteers. This is an interesting time. We pray that God gives you wisdom, peace and patience as we all navigate this unique moment in time.
If there is anything we can do to help, or you require more in depth consultation. Give us a call at (705) 791-9597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best and happy streaming!