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Getting Started with Live Streaming Quickly on a Budget

Live Streaming has never been easier than it is today. At its simplest, all it takes is a smartphone, a little bit of know-how, and something worth sharing.

That being said, there are plenty of ways to make improvements to your broadcast quality, and it can become very complicated very quickly. There are hundreds of different configurations and to create the best possible broadcast, you will probably need to take some time to get up to speed.

Due to COVID-19, things are changing rapidly, and you may not have the time to do that much research. Here are some tips for getting your liturgical services and more online quickly:

1. Smartphones are a quick way to get up and running

A Smartphone provides you with all of the various components needed to produce a live broadcast in a single device - a video camera, audio, a computer / device to stream, and a connection to the Internet.

For a more professional and robust offering, you might want to consider using your church's sound system to provide the audio and buying a camera and computer with broadcast software. That might be something to consider further down the road. For now, to get started, we highly recommend using a smartphone (which you most likely already have) if starting today is your most important goal.

2. Facebook and YouTube provide Live Streaming for Free

If your parish already has a Facebook Page, you have a free location to stream your services, with the added benefit of the broadcast showing up to your followers each time you start. Similarly, if your parish uses YouTube and has Verified your account, you already have a free place to stream*. In addition to streaming from mobile, both platforms have web applications to allow you to stream from a computer provided you have a camera and microphone attached to your computer.

* If you are streaming from a mobile device, your YouTube account must have at least 1000 followers to be able to stream. This limit does not apply if you are streaming to YouTube from a computer.

3. Your Internet Speed is Important

When you broadcast videos to the internet, you are basically turning the video and audio into bytes of data and pushing them to a server that displays them as a video to all of your viewers. If your internet connection’s upload speed isn’t fast enough to push all of those bytes in real time, your stream will become choppy or even stop. If you are experiencing streaming problems, try lowering your stream’s quality or increasing your internet upload speed if possible.

4. Quality Still Matters

Even when time is of the essence, remember that the goal of providing a live stream of your parish’s liturgical services is to allow the faithful to stay connected and experience the liturgy to the extent that they can over the internet. Because of this, you should strive to provide the best quality stream that you can to help the faithful be as immersed as possible in your broadcast. That can come in the form of:

  • Camera Placement
  • Lighting
  • Having a Plan and Executing that Plan
  • Upgrading some of your Equipment to improve the Audio and Video

To that end, we’ve put together a list of equipment as a starting point to help you get up and running. If you have different needs or goals, make sure you find a product that will work for you.

NOTE: The products below should be available to purchase through B&H Video, Amazon, Best Buy, or another online retailer.

Suggested Equipment - Microphones and Audio Connections

  • (Good) Rode VideoMic Me or Rode VideoMic Me-L - These microphones connect directly to a smart phone and provide improved sound quality over the microphone built into your device. Using a single microphone for a full liturgy may result in some echo, but it does provide you with the benefit of potentially capturing multiple sound sources (such as a priest and a chanter) at the same time.

  • (Better) Rode Wireless GO Compact Digital Microphone System - This small wireless microphone system comes with a transmitter and receiver. Simply clip the wireless microphone to the priest and connect the receiver to your smartphone or camera. Although you can only have one source of audio using this solution, the quality will be much better than a microphone recording the entire church.

  • (Best) Connecting to the Church Sound System - If you already have microphones setup in the parish, there is no reason to add more complexity to the mix. Utilize an output from your Sound System to connect directly to your smartphone or camera. If you are using an iOS device, you can use an adapter such as the Rode SC6-L to get a direct feed from the sound system. If you are unable to set up the camera close enough physically, you could consider using a wireless transmitter such as the Rode Wireless GO Compact Digital Microphone System to connect your camera wirelessly to the sound system.

Suggested Equipment - Tripod

  • (Good) Manfrotto PIXI Smart Mini Tripod - The Manfrotto PIXI Smart Mini Tripod allows you to easily stabilize your phone on a table or similar surface. It is not quite as flexible as other options, but if you have a flat surface at a good height, this is a good option.

  • (Better) JOBY GripTight ONE GorillaPod - The JOBY GorillaPod is a miniature tripod with flexible legs, which allow you to mount your phone in many different configurations.

  • (Best) Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod - This tripod can extend up to 62” to give you the ability to set it up directly on the floor and still have an eye-level view of your service. The tripod head also has panning ability, if you are looking to have someone controlling the camera to follow any action. It does not come with a smartphone mount, but you can pick one up such as the Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount for Smartphones.

5. If You Are Unable to Provide a Stream, Others Do Exist

If you do not have live streaming at your parish already and don’t have the time or capacity to set something up, simply tell your parishioners to tune into the live stream from another parish. There are many parishes who are broadcasting their services already - www.goarch.org/live

Conclusion

Each parish is different and the right solution for one may not work well at all in another. If after reading this article you’re still having a hard time deciding how to proceed, feel free to reach out to us at the Department of Internet Ministries to discuss your options.