Earlier this year, the unthinkable happened. The spread of COVID-19 caused nearly every church, school, theatre, and venue to immediately close its doors. Some prepared and others not – many were forced to immediately begin streaming and broadcasting their services and events. As time goes on we see many asking, “Is our system truly capable of what we thought it was?” The answer will obviously vary based on the equipment you have within your facility. However, it’s relatively simple to get up and running – or simply just improve your system. All you need is an audio and video source, along with a streaming service/device.
First and foremost – you’ll need a camera system. Sure, you could go the cheap and easy route with purchasing a webcam – however they tend to be limited in terms of focus, zoom, and exposure adjustment. You could also feed your from the live feed of a DSLR or mirrorless camera. DSLR and mirrorless cameras offer great video quality and adjustments, but oftentimes are cobbled with overheating, timeout and other issues as they were simply never designed for continuous live streaming.
If you are looking for a camera that is designed specifically for live streaming and I-MAG, consider a PTZ camera. PTZ Cameras from Canon, Vaddio, Panasonic and Marshall can start at a very low price point. These will offer a direct feed into your streaming system. No overheating or timeout issues, and they will offer excellent picture quality. For a feature-driven camera that is truly built for broadcast/streaming – consider Panasonic, Sony, and Grass Valley.
As for streaming systems, Living As One has quickly reached the top in the church market, as it’s simply a stand alone subscription with an encoder, where you simply connect your audio and video sources which are sent straight to your web outputs such as Facebook, Youtube, and your website. Offering up to 4K resolution, it uses its end-to-end data redundancy system to make sure there is no interrupted playback regardless of internet connection speed. You can pause and play live video as needed, even play synchronized content later through simulated live playback. Living As One even offers weekend phone support, even on Sunday mornings. Best part of all, it’s priced for non-profits. Not a church? That’s okay – many other companies use Living As One with great success.
Looking for a free option? Consider OBS Studio. It’s a free, open source software for video recording and live streaming. It does require a bit more knowledge to work with – but the results can be very good considering it’s free. OBS Studio offers use of different scenes and graphics, while essentially giving you full control over the appearance of your playback. When you need help, there is a very large online community that is ready to help. No weekend phone support – but if you’re into tech and pressed for budget, OBS could be a good place to start.
Audio for video can be as simple as a clip on lapel microphone wired directly to the camera or as complex as mixing a full band production and multiple presenters for a live stream. When integrating an existing audio system into a video streaming platform, if using a digital console, sometimes it is easier to add an additional console with digital sends from the existing system and a completely separate mix. Additional processing may be necessary to time align audio to video, set and control volume levels to avoid clipping, or for other additional needs.
Last, let’s talk video walls and projection. These aren’t items you’ll need for live streaming/broadcast – but something you’ll want to consider as you reopen your doors. Upon reopening, chances are you’ll have your venue more spread out and socially distanced. In order for all to have the same experience, you may want to consider going one of these routes. Video walls are great for those without a budget and a need for creative scenic elements or sanctuaries with large open windows to the outside where you compete with sunlight. However you do have a fair amount more in upfront cost and maintenance.
Projection, when done correctly, can give great IMAG (Image Magnification) results. There are some things to consider when choosing these options. You’ll want to meter the ambient light in the room, as that will directly affect which route you would want to go. Determine your end goal. Do you have the right technical staff and power requirements? Ultimately, a deciding factor may be your budget. By looking at these, it should help determine your long term investment approach to Video wall or Projector.
Regardless of budget, venue size, or system complexity, Clearwing Systems Integration offers services from basic gear sales, to on-site service and maintenance, and entire on-site system installation and programing.
Need to rent a few pieces of gear? Clearwing Productions is available for rental, production, and technical support.