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Live Streaming at any Cost

There are many ways to implement a live streaming solution. You may need to consider your budget, staffing capabilities (technical) and availability (time needed to operate and manage the operation), and available space in the church. Based on your budget, there is a solution that will work for you. 

You will want to consider both up-front (capital) vs ongoing / monthly (operating) expense. Some solutions might be less expensive initially but cost you more in either time or money as you use your live streaming set up. Conversely, by spending slightly more up-front, you may save quite a bit of time and money in the long term. 

Capital Costs

The following list and attached prices are one proposed breakdown of capital costs you may consider for your live streaming setup:

1) "Free" Solution

Using borrowed equipment - a smart phone or a laptop computer with a web cam - you can be online today. This is fine in a pinch or when you really can't afford any additional equipment. Using Facebook Live or YouTube Live, there are no ongoing out of pocket expenses either.

Learn more about how to get started for free at: https://support.goarch.org/-/live-streaming-quick-and-easy

2) Minimal ($100 - $500)

If you only have a limited budget, we recommend investing in your live streaming solution to improve the audio and video quality. 

For less than $500 (and as little as $100), you can in purchase a set of cables, adapters, a wireless audio transmitter unit, tripod, and camera mount. The wireless audio transmitter allows you to send the audio from your church's sound system to your broadcasting device. Alternatively, you can run wires to accomplish the same outcome for less, but just make sure to tuck the wires away. Having an elegant solution is important as well as having a functional one. With this price point, you'll still broadcast to Facebook or YouTube, and there will be no ongoing out of pocket expenses.

Learn more about how to get started for less than $500 at: https://support.goarch.org/-/improved-audio-live-stream-smart-phone

3) Basic ($1,000 - $2,500)

There are several high quality streaming cameras that offer an all-in-one solution. Having a higher quality camera will dramatically improve your 

Here are three different cameras at three different price points (and an additional all-in-one solution) which will allow you to stream directly from them.

a) Mevo Start Live Streaming Camera - $399
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1547920-REG/mevo_mv3_01b_bl_start_camera.html/overview

b) JVC GY-HM250 UHD 4K Streaming Camcorder - $1699
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1400279-REG/jvc_gy_hm250_4k_uhd_camcorder.html/overview

c) PTZOptics 30X-NDI Camera - $2,199
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1401963-REG/ptzoptics_pt30x_ndi_gy_30x_optical_zoom_ndihx.html

d) Boxcast (all in one solution - see the website for pricing)
https://www.boxcast.com

There are many other cameras available in the market today. We recommend you perform the necessary research to find the camera that is right for you.

With a streaming camera and the improved audio connections from option 2 above, you are now ready to offer your parishioners a great quality experience of your divine services.

At this level, you may want to consider paying for a subscription service of some kind. See the section below about paid streaming services for more.

4) Intermediate ($3,000 - $5,000)

Camera

To improve your set up even further, strongly consider a mounted PTZ (pan tilt zoom) camera that is controlled by a dedicated computer to act as your broadcast control center. A good quality camera can be mounted on the back / west wall of your nave to be inconspicuous to your parishioners and yet be able to capture quality close-up shots of the clergy, choir and chanters. A computer can be set up in the sacristy or another location that is easily accessible to the clergy, altar servers, or your technology team.

Software

From the computer, you will receive your audio and video signals with a software or hardware encoder, and then broadcast it out using software. Here are three software options:

a) Free: OBS, Open Broadcaster Software
https://obsproject.com

b) Minimal Cost vMix (starts at $60 with a free 60 day trial)
https://www.vmix.com/purchase

c) More Expensive: Wirecast (starts at $599 with a trial edition which adds a watermark)
https://www.telestream.net/wirecast

Computer Hardware

Your broadcast computer should have a top quality processor (Intel i7 or equivalent) with sufficient RAM (16 GB) and hard drive storage (at least 256 GB SSD with additional storage for archived video). If you are broadcasting at 1080p, you may want to consider an additional graphics card with a GPU for easing the burden on your main CPU.

Video Capture Card

If your camera uses NDI (Network Device Interface) technology, you will capture the video signal using software that is offered or recommended by the manufacturer. You will not need any additional hardware. 

If, however, your camera uses a wired connection of some kind (HDMI, SDI, etc.), you will need a video encoder / capture card. Companies to consider include BlackMagic Design, Elgato, and Osprey, though there are many similar products available.

5) Advanced ($7000+)

At this level of operation, parishes can enjoy additional features, including multiple cameras an more advanced controls. Perhaps you would like a second camera in the Altar, or a third or fourth camera to capture additional angles within the nave. Perhaps you would like a more advanced control center with a physical control board (like the ones you might see in a professional broadcast studio). 

Ongoing Costs

Time spent 

This is an important consideration. How much time are you able to invest in operating your live stream? There are some solutions which are as simple as a click of a button, while other solutions might take several steps to start. You should consider this as you weigh the available options.

As one example, though Facebook Live is free, in order to get the video player added to your website, you can either add it manually each time you go live, or you can pay for a monthly service which will do the work for you. For more on this, check out this article:  https://support.goarch.org/-/embedding-facebook-video-on-your-website

These price levels do not include any upgrades to your sound system or internet connection, which may need to be evaluated and considered.

Streaming Services

Two of the most popular streaming services currently are Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Both are free, but they have their drawbacks as well. Free does not always mean free, especially in the digital age. Advertising, Privacy concerns, content ownership, limits to functionality, and quality are all possible drawbacks. 

The Archdiocese offers a paid streaming service starting at $75/month. To learn more, see: https://support.goarch.org/-/live-streaming-information

Another popular streaming service is BoxCast:  https://www.boxcast.com

For every additional stream destination you add, you'll need to consider increasing your upload speed and CPU usage. There are also third party re-streaming services, such as Restream.io or Streamyard.com, which will do the work for you to stream to multiple destinations.

Additional Reading

For additional reading, check out the following articles: