Can we afford to Live-Stream our worship service? How complicated is it? Can we train any interested volunteer to do this? What does it cost?
In this article we’ll address what is involved in implementing a basic system for streaming. This would be suitable for a small church, business, or personal use. First we’ll discuss what is required.
Video Switcher / Liver Streamer – The easiest way to implement our system with some basic level of flexibility is to employ a small video switcher. Our system uses a 4-input HDMI 1080HD switcher. This gives you the ability to use 4 video sources such as cameras, computers, digital overhead projector such as Elmo, etc.. Our switcher also simplifies the streaming process by providing the ability to stream live directly from the switcher. We’re using Black Magic Design’s ATEM Mini Pro. This will be the heart of your system. Cost for the switcher is $595. You can spend as little as $295 for a switcher w/o live streaming capabilities to $18,485 and up for a switcher with capabilities.
Cameras – At least one camera is required. You may have whatever number of cameras your switcher will allow based on your live streaming needs. A simple system can start with a basic 1080HD camera such as the Sony HDR-CX405 which is actually a Handycam. The advantage two-fold: economy of scale which makes the price low and a ZEISS lens with a 30x optical zoom. Cost for this camera if $199. It’s price & capabilities make it a great started camera for our basic system. The camera come with a short HDMI-HDMI Micro cable. If you plan on ordering a longer cable make sure you order an HDMI “A” to HDMI Micro “D” cable. Dedicated cameras with more features, better resolution, remote zoom capabilities, etc. can run into the $1,000’s of dollars.
Tripod – If you plan on panning & tilting the camera make sure you get a fluid head tripod. This will ensure smooth camera movements. You will notice the difference in video motion no matter what camera you are using.
Microphones / Audio Console Send – You’ll need at least one microphone or the output from an audio mixing board. Since our Use Case is a small church we’ll be taking an Audio Send from their existing Audio Mixing Console.
Streaming Service – You’ll need to sign up with a streaming service (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) in order to live stream your events. Make sure to set this up ahead of time because YouTube requires 24 hours notice.
Computer – You’ll need a computer (Mac, PC, etc.) for a couple of things. First, you’ll want to load and run the switcher software to configure the switcher. This includes setting the microphone / line level, connecting the switcher to the Internet, selecting background images to switch in such as a logo or slide of the church, and settings the live streaming key that will be provided by your Streaming Service for each live session. In addition you may want to play PowerPoint media (slides, video) during your live session.
Training – There is no end to all sorts of training media on the Net. Make use of it. When you get your system up and running be sure to practice, practice, practice BEFORE you need to actually Live Stream. The system we’ve described is basic but effective enough to stream a live program for whatever your audience may be. If you’re a church, YES your volunteers will be able to handle the system with minimal guidance.
Cost – Based on all of the information we just provided, with a little volunteerism and good shopping you should be able to put a basic 2 camera system together for $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the cameras you spec. Enjoy!