Before setting up a live stream, there are three key questions you need to answer. In this article we’ll un-pack these in detail and provide you with some simple solutions.
- Do I really need to be truly ‘live’?
A live broadcast has a lot of associated complications, which you can avoid if you simply pre-record your videos and make them available On Demand at your event time, or by playing it ‘as-live’ at your event time.
- What hardware will I use to create my stream?
Having a video and/or audio feed which is easy to see (if video) and listen to (for both audio and video) is critical to a successful stream. Having an excellent internet connection, with a fast upload connection is also critical.
- What software platform(s) will I use to distribute my stream?
Depending on whether you want to be live or not, you’ll need to either connect to a live streaming solution. We’ll walk you through the options on how to connect your provider into your EzyChurch app.
Choose: Live or Pre-recorded?
If you haven’t used a live stream before, carefully consider whether now is really the best time to try and stream fully live. Many churches practice live streaming before it becomes a critical part of their communications strategy. So, if you do plan to stream live, it’s important that you undertake lots of testing to be very confident that your stream will play out without technical issues such as buffering and ‘operator’ errors as your content is produced. There are no second chances with a live stream, so test, test, test, and practice, practice, practice.
- Test your equipment,
- Test your upload speed with a long form test broadcast,
- Practice the operations your team needs to perform live,
- Review how your community can easily access your stream on the devices they use most.
A much simpler solution than live streaming is to pre-record your content, edit it as you wish it be viewed – removing any mistakes - and then upload it ready to for your community to access at the appointed time.
You can create a great sense of everyone coming together for the stream, even if it is pre-recorded by:
- Controlling when your content is live/publicly accessible,
- Sending a notification linked to the video file when it is ‘live’.
- Remembering that if your video is pre-recorded, people can play it when they like. So, if they are ‘late’ they can in effect ‘roll back time and start at the beginning by watching even 5 or 10 minutes ‘delayed’.
Live Streaming Hardware
Having a good video feed is important, but having good audio is even more critical. Consider whether you plan to stream from a mobile device, plug a camera into a streaming encoder, or software encoder, or use a multi-camera setup. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Always use an external microphone. If you plan to use a mobile device, connect a lapel microphone to it. Many churches already have lapel mics and by using the correct adapters, they may be able to be plugged into your device.
- If you are streaming from an auditorium, take a sound feed from the sound desk. Sound mixing for a stream can open up a mine-field, but start with the essentials and ensure that you have a direct feed from the sound desk. If the auditorium is empty, and you’re simply streaming you can focus your mix on the stream only.
A simple setup for a live stream could be as follows:
- Plug an external audio feed into your video camera (either a lapel mic, or sound desk feed),
- Connect a video camera to a video encoder via HDMI or SDI.
- If your encoder connects to a computer via USB, make sure you use a powerful computer, as it will have to encode and upload your video live. An example of such an encoder is the AJA U-Tap. This device is cheap, but relies on your computer to do that hard work.
- Preferably, use an encoder which processes your video and uploads it within the device. An example of this is the AJA HELO. This device is more expensive, as it does all the core video encoding and uploading for you, without a computer.
- Connect your streaming solution to your chosen live stream option, as below.
- Pre-recorded video material can be directly uploaded into your EzyStream dashboard. You may already be doing this for audio files and the process is identical. Just make sure you have the a video module active on your account. If you only want your media to appear on a Sunday, you can control the offer associated with your upload. You may like to de-activate the notification for when the upload is complete, and rather schedule the notification for your ‘live’ time.
- When you want to tell everyone to access the video file, consider sending a notification. This can be manually sent, or pre-scheduled.
- Choose the platform you’d like to use to live stream. This could be Facebook, or YouTube, but could also be a custom solution creating an m3u8 file.
- Connect your video encoder to the desired service and schedule the broadcast.
- Place the broadcast into your EzyStream Dashboard.
EzyStream provides multiple live-stream integration options, depending on the platform you select:
- YouTube Live: Simply add the video ID of your YouTube live stream into your dashboard, and a new button will appear in your app for your community to watch live.
- Facebook Live: Paste the URL of your Facebook livestream page into one of the App Web Embed functions in your subscription dashboard.
- Vimeo Live: Paste the URL of your Vimeo livestream page into one of the 'External Link' functions in your subscription dashboard.
- Zoom Meetings: Paste the URL of your Zoom meeting into one of the 'External Link' functions in your subscription dashboard.
- Custom Stream: Grab the m3u8 file from your stream, and drop it into your app where it will be natively played, and provide options for Chromecast and AirPlay. Please contact us to activate this option.
Some other tips
- If you’re concerned about giving to your church, or what to promote this especially in the event of there being no public gatherings, you can connect your EzyStream Giving Appeal to your pre-recorded video file, so that the giving link is presented to each viewer while watching the video stream.
COVID-19 Extended Media Trial
EzyStream is committed to helping you through this challenging period we are all facing. To assist you, for a limited time we are offering 3 months free on the following media modules:
- YouTube Live Stream integration
- Custom Live Stream integration
- Video Uploads
Simply add these to your account in via your dashboard and send us an email to activate the 3-month free period. Once the 3 months is completed, this will convert to a normal paid module unless you remove it on your dashboard.
If you haven't tried EzyChurch yet, check out our special offer for new churches. We are offering you access to EzyChurch free during the COVID-19 crisis.