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Live Streaming Checklist for Churches

church conference streaming

So you have been talking about live streaming at your church for a while now and have finally made the decision to get started. The responsibility falls on you, now you start to realize church conference streamingthat everyone (inside and outside of the church) will be watching, and a little bit of panic starts to creep in. You want to make sure you give a great first impression but are a little overwhelmed by the different obstacles that live streaming presents.

Here is a checklist of tips to help make sure things go off without a hitch….or with as few hitches as possible.

 

TEST,  TEST, and TEST AGAIN

This cannot be stressed enough. Don’t rush your first public live stream just because everyone wants to see how it looks. Very often we see churches get their equipment in on Thursday and rush to try to do their first public live stream on Sunday. While this can happen, it is not a good idea to make your first live stream public. Test it many times leading up to your service, and then run a private stream during your first real service with a few beta testers watching for you. This will allow you to see what obstacles may come up during the actual service times.

DEDICATED EQUIPMENT AND INTERNET FOR STREAMING

Imagine this scenario. You are using a computer to live stream with, and after testing multiple times during the week, you have your settings dialed in and things are set up for a seamless Sunday morning. You show up an hour before service to find that all of your settings have been changed and you have to start over. We see this happen often. That is why we recommend the computer or hardware used to live stream is dedicated to the live streaming system and not used for other tasks. Equipment such as a laptop or a device like the churchstreamer have become inexpensive in the past few years and allows almost any budget to afford dedicated equipment.  The same advice goes for your internet connection also. If you have a robust local network, ask the IT person to prioritize the connection used for live streaming so that other traffic at the church does not interfere with it. If you have a small church with a single router, you may want to disable public wifi usage during the live stream or have your Internet Service Provider bring in a second connection that is only used for live streaming..

 

ASK THE AUDIENCE FOR FEEDBACK (BUT NOT WHILE LIVE)

Your best source of feedback is your online audience. You want to tailor your live stream to give off the same vibe as your live service does. Remember that you can’t please everyone, but you can use their feedback to make sure you are creating the look and feel that is best for your church. Just make sure you don’t ask for this feedback during the live stream. If you are using a chat box or social feed with your live stream, asking for feedback during the live stream may create a negative situation that interferes with the online worship.

 

USE CLOSE UP SHOTS OF EVERYONE

As tech enthusiasts, we all want to have the perfectly framed camera angles and a very professional looking broadcast. However, we can tend to get caught up in trying to make things perfect and sometimes forget that a church broadcast should be different than a sporting event or concert. The viewers want to be part of the service the same way they are when they attend. They want to see more than just a stage and a speaker. Don’t be shy about having close up shots of the speaker and of the congregation. Bring the shot back and let them experience it through the eyes of someone on the back pew. Then zoom in and let them see the speaker just like someone sitting in the front. If available, have a camera on the side or in the front that gives them a view of the congregation and cut to it every now and then. The point is to help them get the feel of what it is like to be attending. They will thank you when they attend a service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Live Stream Audio Settings

church audio mixer

If your church is like most, the joy of your new live stream can be overshadowed by some of the technical challenges that arise.  Your streaming provider should help you with most of these problems, but one that is going to fall on your shoulders is dialing in the audio for the live stream.

What you hear on your live stream and what you hear inside the building may be two completely different qualities.  Your sound tech might have everything set up perfectly and make joyful noise during the service, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into beautiful noise once it has passed through the streaming computer or encoder.  The way that your sound is EQ’d is going to be different than you would EQ it for small laptop speakers.  Herein lies the problem with just pulling an audio out cable from the board to the streaming device or computer.

We have seen churches correct this problem a couple of different ways.  If you are lucky enough that church audio mixeryour sound tech can dial in a feed from the board just for your live stream then it is just a matter of trial and error with the settings while testing during the week.  If your sound is run by a simple board and once a week volunteers, your best bet may be to purchase a small inexpensive sound board that can be used just for live streaming.  You can take your feed from your main board and then adjust it on the fly for your live stream without affecting anything in the church.   You can pick one up for around $100 like this https://amzn.com/B00EDRUQXC

 

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Check your cords and cables

church streaming wires

Church Streaming Tip of the Day October 19 2016:

Check your cords and cables every week

Every week we get at least a few support calls because the church’s live stream just won’t work right and they have tried troubleshooting everything….or so they thought.  By the time they contact us the tech team (or in most cases the weekly volunteer) has rebooted all of the devices, checked all of the settings, and even reinstalled programs.  When our support staff asks “Have you checked all of your cables and cords”, we usually get about ten seconds of silence followed by a slightly embarrassed but relieved groan.

All of us who spend our time dealing with the tech side of a church service have become accustomed to software and devices needing maintenance and updates.  We perform those tasks so often that we church streaming wiressometimes forget to look for the simple solutions, particularly when it is equipment that we only use once or twice per week.

When printing out your streaming checklists always make sure to start with “check cables and plugs” to avoid this problem.  Often, the computers or cameras used for live streaming church services are also used in other areas of the church during the week.  Multiple hands may have touched it since last week when you live streamed with it.  Also, we have found it very helpful to use color coded stickers for any cables that are regularly unplugged to help you quickly identify if they are connected in the wrong place.  Just place a small sticker on the end of the cable that matches the color of a small stick on the port of a device that the cable should be connected to.  Then when moving stuff around the staff can just match up the colors and know that everything is connected correctly.

 

Happy Streaming, and remember to check your cables first!