Live Streaming for your church worship services doesn’t need to be as expensive or complicated as you might think. It is simply about getting the right live streaming equipment for your church, adding the right software, and getting started. Here are some recommendations to get up and running fast.
These suggestions are based on the idea of making things as easy as possible for you and your volunteers.
Choosing a live streaming computer
While there are ways to stream directly from a camera or capture device, the simplest streaming solutions use a computer as a hub to pull everything together. Whether you prefer a Mac or a PC, make sure you are using a reasonably new machine with a decent amount of processing power and memory. If you would also like to record your streams locally, be sure that you have plenty of hard drive space or an external drive. Once you have a computer selected, you will need to think about installing video production software. Software such as Wirecast and OBS are available for both Mac and PC for live streaming. OBS aka Open Broadcaster Software is completely free and it’s a great way to get started. Software such as Wirecast does have an upfront cost, but offers more features that you can work into your productions in the long run.
Check out this course free course for helping your church live stream. This course goes over some of the important details about choosing the best software for live streaming.
To send your stream to the streaming platform of your choice, you will need a stable internet connection. While it is possible to stream via WiFi, a hardwired connection is preferred since it is less likely to be interrupted. If at all possible, a dedicated internet connection is even better. This will ensure that you won’t lose your connection if a large number of other people decide to use the connection at the same time. If your church is mobile or unable to provide a stable internet connection you can consider a cellular bonding solution from companies such as LiveU.
No matter what type of church you are a part of or what kind of live streaming system you have in mind, you will need at least one camera. That camera will need to be connected to your computer either directly or via a capture device. For the absolute most straightforward way to get started, consider a PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) camera. USB cameras or webcams are a great place to start, but USB cabling can only be extended roughly 10′ without an extension system. Most churches rely on SDI cabling which can be run hundreds of feet without any signal loss. HDMI cabling is also an option but most HDMI cables are only useable up to 35 feet and sometimes 50′.
Not only can a PTZ camera make things simple, but they also have the power and flexibility to capture a professional, high-quality image, consider a PTZOptics USB connected PTZ camera. This camera can connect directly to your PC or MAC and comes in 12X, 20X, and 30X zoom. That means no matter where you place the camera in the room, you will be able to get a clear image of your worship leaders and the entire room. And because the zoom is true optical zoom, the image will look fabulous no matter the zoom level. PTZ cameras can also pan, zoom, and tilt via remote, giving you total control without actually touching the camera.
Check out this article that reviews how to choose a PTZ camera for your church.
Great looking video is essential, but you can’t have a high-quality stream without clear audio. The best solution is to capture sound directly from your soundboard. You can use a simple interface like the Behringer UM2 to feed a signal from the board into your computer. This is great news for your church production team because you can use all of the great audio systems and microphones you already have in place to amplify your pastor and choir. All you really need to do is capture the audio from an output on your audio board and convert that to USB. What you should be looking for is a USB audio interface. This will simply plug into your computer via USB and provide your computer an audio source the same way a webcam would provide your computer with a video source. With an audio and video source into your streaming computer, all you need to configure is your software.
Software for live streaming
The final step is finding the right software for your computer. This software will process your audio and video signals and send them to your streaming providers such as YouTube or Facebook. While there are free options out there, like OBS Studio, you might consider investing a little bit of money on something that will be easier to set up and more intuitive for your volunteers. ECamm Live for Mac or vMix for PC are some great options that won’t break your budget.
These are just a few options to help get you started finding the right live stream equipment for church. Your setup may differ depending on your unique needs and budget. However, once you find the right computer, camera, audio interface, and software, it won’t be long before your live stream is up and running.