Livestreaming Your Sunday Service

Published on: September 1, 2014

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Why livestream your service on the Internet? It enables those seeking the Unity message to never miss out on a service, whether they can be there in person or not. Some can’t attend because of illness, severe weather or travel. Beyond those viewers, sharing the service through the Internet gives people who are reluctant to attend a Unity community a means to hear the message or check out the service without having the initial uneasiness of being there.

Audio streaming is a way to start without a large investment, and delivers service broadcasts that sound professional. You need a microphone on anyone who you want to have heard by your Internet listeners. By connecting a headset output from the sound equipment to the line in of an Internet-connected computer, you can use free encoding software to send the signal to a host who distributes it.

This effort has side benefits of improving the sound for those in the room, providing the basis for creating CD recordings of the service, and prepares for the next step: video streaming. Most people in the US and Canada have always had television programming as a part of their lives. They have ingrained expectations about how a broadcast should look and sound. No matter how good the message is, it is rejected when there is a substantial gap between what they are watching and those expectations.

Turning on a single camera, pointing it at the speaker and leaving it there for an hour does not work in a world where camera views usually change every 15 to 25 seconds. Video from a single camera with an unchanging view is like watching a security camera.

Viewers understand that your stream will not have the production values of Joel Osteen. To provide a video that does not get in the way of your message, it must be in alignment with the deep-seated viewer visual expectations such as providing a clear picture with orderly view changes and good sound. Multiple cameras, and a way to switch between them, is fundamental. Ask yourself, “If someone asked me to watch the service every week, would I?”

Unity Worldwide Ministries provides a guide to various levels of video streaming, the costs involved and the objectives satisfied at each level.

UOC Experience

On Sunday, June 23, 2012, a single video technician used four standard-definition cameras and a video mixer sold over e-Bay to send the service at Unity of Chattanooga, Tenn., to three viewers. UOC now uses four high-definition cameras, all-digital mixing and an audiovisual team of four. The live broadcast reaches one-third to half of the total congregants attending both in the church and on the Internet, and an additional 20 to 40 watch the “message only” segment or the entire service each week from the archive.

 

Jeff Sandy
Jeff Sandy is the technology and media director for Unity of Chattanooga, Tenn. His career covers 30 years of content distribution, with the last 25 utilizing the Internet and social media. He is on his way to becoming a licensed teacher.

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  • I recommend a internet connection of 1.5Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload for a good quality stream. Also found a great tool for figuring out the best encoding settings for your internet connection @ http://cdn1.ustream.tv/networktest/.