Live streaming isn’t just shooting a video and posting it for view at a later date. It’s live. It’s happening right then. The viewers are seeing what the people at the service are seeing, at the same time.
For those who are unable to be at the service in person, they can still participate and feel a part of their church community. Those who are homebound or in the hospital can continue to participate and people who have to travel or maybe on vacation can still be connected.
Are you able to archive the service for use later? Of course, but that can be an edited version with only the sermon.
So, give me the basics. How does it work?
Though there can be many configurations, the most common three scenarios are shown below.
Scenario 1: A basic camera is connected to either an encoder box or into a computer/laptop with encoding software loaded on it. The box or computer then converts the camera feed into a format that can be sent to Churchstraming.tv and broadcast to your church’s platforms. They then automatically send your video to your archive platforms.
Scenario 2: Your church has a camera with a built-in encoder that sends the converted feed to Churchstreaming.tv who then broadcasts your event to your platforms. They then automatically send your video to your archive platforms.
Scenario 3: Multiple cameras are connected to a switching/processing unit which is then connected to an encoder or goes directly to Churchstreaming.tv for broadcast if the switcher has a built-in encoder.
So, camera + encoding device + Churchstreaming.tv = Your live broadcast.
How to get Started
With so many different types of equipment to choose from, you need to start by determining what you want to see as an end product for your live streaming? What is your church’s vision for live streaming? Keep your members connected? Attract the younger generation? Become a mega church! Knowing what you want from your live streaming is key and will guide your equipment selection.
Maybe you already have a camera or two that you use to project onto screens during the service and are just looking to live stream. Wil that be enough? Or, do you want to create a professional quality production that includes bottom third titles and picture-in-picture?
If you know what you want to end up with before purchasing equipment, you’ll be able to focus on the features you really need, and then choose based on your budget.
What you want to end up with will also guide your selection of an encoder. Make sure you purchase the type that will produce what you want, and not pay for something you don’t need, or can’t use to fulfill your vision.
What is an Encoder?
The encoder converts the data from one format to another. In this case, it takes the feed from your camera and converts it into a format that can be sent to a streaming company like Churchstreaming.tv, and broadcast to your platforms. There are two types of encoders: Software and hardware. Each has pros and cons.
Churchstreaming.tv can use any encoder that has an RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) output, which the most common encoders provide. Some encoders to consider are: Wirecast, Teradek, vMix, TriCaster, Matrox, VID Blaster, and there are many more.
Software encoders are those that are loaded onto a desktop or laptop computer. With these software encoders, you have more flexibility to make adjustments to the quality of the video. They are updated just like other software when the manufacturer makes changes and add features.
You can purchase an encoding software that also includes graphics. Wirecast is a great option for software encoders, allowing you to add titles/scripture verses, picture-in-picture and create a professional looking stream
On the downside, they may be a bit slower than a hardware encoder. The speed of software encoders can vary depending on what else is installed on the computer. The more programs running, the slower the software runs.
A hardware encoder is a piece of equipment that’s sole purpose is to transfer the input into a format that can be streamed. This equipment can be stand-alone or integrated into a camera. Though they can vary in size, they are usually small and portable, though more expensive than their software cousins. An advantage of a hardware encoder is that you don’t need a separate computer unless you want to add graphics software to the mix.
Since they are pre-built there is little adjustability and upgrading is usually done by replacing the device. However, they are focused solely on encoding and are very reliable, and faster than software options.
Think about why your church is choosing to live stream. What is the end-product you envision? Determine what equipment you currently have and if it has the capabilities you need. Make a list of what equipment you’re missing and then talk to an equipment specialist. Let them know what your goal is, what you have and, most importantly, what your budget is. They will be happy to help you determine and equipment path to fit your needs.