Video Streaming 101

With today’s technology it is easy for people to video stream their worship services. Most people that know anything about computers can stream video. But should you jump right in and start streaming video tomorrow with a cheap camera and little preparation? This all depends on how you want your church portrayed to the people who may watch online.Sanctuary 01

You can make your church look great, or you can make your church look bad. If you dive right in with little preparation, it will likely show in your video stream.

Keep in mind that this could be a person’s first impression of your church—watching your video stream online. The first impression you make could impact their decision on whether they watch again, whether they decide to come to your church or, most importantly, it could make or break their decision about the Lord.

So it is very important to put some thought into how you do your video stream. Here are some points to consider as you’re getting started:

1.) Is the lighting in our church conducive for video? 2.) What camera do you need? 3.) Who will run the camera or cameras? 4.) Do you want to stream live? Or should you record, edit and upload? 5.) Should you use a free video streaming site? 6.) Do you need a dedicated internet feed? 7.) Where will your audio feed come from? 8.) What other equipment do you need?

You need to think about all of the above before putting any video of your church online.

For your church to look great, you need to make sure the lighting you will be using when videotaping will achieve the quality/look you want. Are there places that are not lit up; are there shadows?

What camera should you purchase? The camera can be a big factor in how your video looks. Should you use a camera or cameras that will require a person to run? Or should you get a robotic camera system where one person can run multiple cameras from one location? If you use a camera that is operated by a person, you will need a quality tripod so the camera moves smoothly. If you use multiple cameras, how will the operators communicate with each other?

Another important considerations is, do you have to recruit more volunteers? How will you make sure you have people to run things every service?

Keep in mind that it is better not to always use an IMAX view for video—shots of the congregation interacting/worshipping can help to make your video great, and not just so-so.

If you’re thinking of live streaming, here’s a crucial point to keep in mind: The video can only be viewed at the same time as your service—no matter what time zone potential viewers are in. Here are some other important items to consider:

1.) When live streaming, you get what you get. There is little to no editing when streaming live. 2.) Most free streaming sites will put commercials into your live stream. 3.) Can you store the video online so it can be viewed at a later date and time?

The use of a dedicated internet feed and computer is oftentimes the best way to go. This way, the stream is the only thing running on that feed. The more things running on a feed, the slower it can be.

Audio, too, must be considered. A good way to ensure high quality audio for the audio feed is to use an aux send, if possible. This way you can mix what is sent to the video separately from the house mix. In addition, using a microphone to pick up the audience will make it sound more like they are in the church service. When viewers can hear the congregation interacting, your service will seem livelier.

A final item to consider is this: What other equipment will you need? You can get as elaborate as you want or you can keep it simple. Adding DVD recorders, video mixers, and switchers all depends on your church’s needs.

You want the people who view the stream to not be distracted by low quality video, bad editing, or dead spots for a live feed. The main thing is to make sure the focus is on sharing the word of God.

by David Jordan, from Church Production Magazine

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