How to Fully Test Before Your Church Live Stream

How to Fully Test Before Your Church Live Stream

Are you interested in live streaming your church’s events?

Learn what equipment you’ll need and how to fully test before live video streaming.

From cameras and encoders to professional streaming services, we’ll cover a full range of live streaming equipment you’ll need to test before broadcasting.

End-to-end test

This will encompass everything we talked about from bandwidth to microphones. Running this kind of test is the only sure-fire way to discover any problems that might come up when going live.

Locating these problems and finding a solution can be the difference in a great live stream and a poorly
executed one. It will also train you on ways to solve problems on the fly, so that any future problems that occur live, you’ll be able to continue on.

Some things to remember for the test:

  • Use the same bandwidth you’ll be using when you live stream.
  • Rehearse using the same equipment and under the same conditions.
  • Test all end devices that might be used before going live.*

*End devices are computers, iPhones, iPads, and other things viewers will use to watch your live stream.

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Camera

Your camera will most likely depend on the size of your church and your budget. Small churches should be fine with just using an external webcam to film their masses. With only a small area to cover in the shot, a webcam will be an inexpensive and efficient way of capturing it. If you are using a simple external webcam then just connect it to the top of your laptop.

For bigger churches with a bigger budget, you should be looking at getting a couple hundred dollar video camera. With services held every week and different events going on throughout the year, it’d be a wise decision to get something that is going to be durable and give your live streams and VoDs (Video on Demand) great quality video.

To set up DV (digital video) camera(s) you’ll want to use a tripod so you can get a steady shot. Do some research on the camera to make sure you can use it for live streaming and is compatible with the encoder and live streaming service you will use.

Internet

To test your upload speed head over to testmy.net. An upload speed of 1 Mbps (Megabits per second) is do-able but 2-5 Mbps would be preferred.

Beside just testing your upload speed, look at how the bandwidth at the venue will work. You’ll need to know if you have a private connection for just you and your streaming needs or will guests be able to join the local connection you will be on. Sharing could leave you with less bandwidth than you originally thought you needed for streaming, so it’s important to find out before and plan accordingly.

Most churches are equipped with a sufficient internet connection for streaming. Even if your church has WiFi I would suggest using a wired connection. There’s a couple problems that you can run into when dealing with WiFi, and if you’ve ever done a live stream before you know these conditions are not perfect.

The first problem is interference. This can occur in a number of ways for instance, neighboring WiFi’s that operate on the same 2.4 GHz (GigaHertz) router. Check out this guide that shows the 6 more popular ways and how to fix them.

The second problem is range. Some venues will prevent you from using a wired connection. Of course you can get by with using WiFi but like I said, it’s not ideal. The distance between you and the WiFi router can cause problems in signal strength and consistency. If you have to use WiFi make sure you are testing a day before the event so you can work out any issues that come up.

Audio

The importance of audio cannot be taken for granted. Good audio to any live stream is like a fine glass of wine with your meal. I’ve even heard of professionals in the streaming business say that audio is more important than video.
To test your audio:

1. Make sure that all audio endpoints are connected and capable of streaming. This includes headphones, high definition multimedia interface (HDMI), displayports, and all other endpoints.

2. All devices on both the playback and recordings tab should show as connected.

3. To check endpoints speak into the microphones and see if the audio meter on the encoder moves.

Because you’ll most likely have your camera equipment setup at the back of the church, don’t depend on the camera mics to pick up on the audio. Use external microphones where ever applicable. Now, I know priests usually have a small microphone clipped to their attire so that might be efficient enough.

If this isn’t the case, I’d get some portable microphones to set up. Make sure you check the batteries each time you test before you go live. This goes for all equipment you use that uses batteries.

Encoders

Size of your church can depend on what kind of equipment you want/need. Encoders are used to de-code the video you are recording and re-code it into streamable content. There’s two type of encoders, hardware and software. Both have their strengths and weaknesses but it will be up to you to choose the best fit for your church. It might depend on features that the encoders perform or simply comes down to price.

choosing-between-live-streamign-software

Testing your encoder will be one of the last tests you run and most likely will be done with the end-to-end test.  First open your encoder and connect to your internet connection weather it be through WiFi or cable. Using the bandwidth you’ll use for the event, run a quick test making sure your encoder is picking up on your camera and audio equipment.

You should also check that everything is synced up from the video and audio to bitrate and everything in between. It’s important that your encoder is producing your live stream at the location you want it. Weather that is your own website or through a professional streaming platform, you’ll need your encoder getting your content to the right spot. Also, if you plan on recording this content, make sure that you’ve set it up to save to your hard drive.

Why you would want to live stream your Church events:

  • The elderly and ill that can’t make it to the sermon would be able to participate in weekly church activities.
  • People who travel a lot you still want to experience their own church on the road.
  • Special events like weddings, baptisms, and confirmations can be live broadcasted to include the whole family not present.
Best places to set up

Back of church preferably because you want to get the entire front of the church and all the movements that happen during the sermon on camera. Most churches will have balconies in the back and this makes for the perfect spot to set up.

If there’s not already a small desk with the audio equipment then I would recommend you get one to station everything. I assume that you’re going to be filming the sermons and any other activities for a long time after this so getting comfortable with the area and work space is important.

 Conclusion

By using a professional streaming service, encoder, audio and video equipment, you can be live streaming high quality video for your congregations.There are a lot of benefits to live streaming your sermons and other community events for your church. A live broadcast can increase the attendance of your events and keep the community together for those who can’t make it in person. I hope this article has helped you with what you’ll need, how to setup and finally, how to test your equipment for your church events.

Now get out there and get streaming!

By: Nick Small. Follow me on Google+ for more articles.

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