FB Live: How To Livestream Your Church Service

I’ve had a few people recently ask me how we actually accomplish our Facebook Live stream with our church service. So today I want to answer most of those questions (hopefully), but if you have others, please don’t hesitate to ask me about them.

So you come to the place where you want to stream your church services, and you’re trying to figure out how to accomplish it, but don’t know where to start. Perfect! I’m here to help. In the way we have it setup there are 5 main components. I’m not going to talk about these components in much depth in this blog, but I will in other posts.

Cameras

So the first thing you will need when setting up your FB Live streaming setup will be cameras. We have a multi-camera setup, but that is not a requirement. The advantages for a multi-camera setup would be:

  • the ability to be on one camera shot while setting up another camera shot
  • camera placement can change weekly for some cameras while still keeping a consistent look of the overall production
  • making the viewing audience feel as though they are apart of the service rather than simply observing through a window
  • more interesting camera shots

Some of the cameras we have are manned cameras and others are stationary. The manned cameras are the kind you would see a news crew using. These are large cameras on a tripod that have excellent image quality.

If you are only going to use one camera I would recommend two things: don’t stream the music portion of your service and make sure your stage is the only thing in frame on your camera. You’ll want to make it the most pleasant you can for your streaming audience so determine where your pastor will be on stage and frame up that portion of the stage on camera. This will make it so your pastor is as large as possible on screen for people watching.

Sound

The next thing you will need to determine is what and how you will manage your sound. We determined the best scenario for us is to have a separate audio mix for the stream. We do this with a separate console that is located in our production room. The person mixing in this position can focus solely on the mix that will go out through our stream. This is definitely not a requirement, however it does provide the best audio quality.

One option would be to simply use the onboard microphone, or an external mic plugged directly into the camera. While this option will work, it will give you the worst audio quality.

The option I would recommend, if you don’t have a separate sound board, is taking a mix off of your main audio console. The easiest mix would be a matrix feed of the main mix. This will provide separate volume control for the streaming mix, and it will also ensure that what you are hearing in the main room live is also going out to the stream.

Video Switcher

If you plan on using more than one camera, some kind of a video switcher will be required. We have found the Blackmagic Design equipment has been a very good fit for us. It’s very versatile and cost effective.

The video switcher is really the heart of your streaming system if you have multiple cameras. It’s where everything comes together from audio and video and is sent to where you need it to be sent. The Blackmagic Design switcher requires that everything be in the same resolution and frame rate, and once you have that accomplished, then you are all set.

If you don’t plan on using multiple cameras, then you don’t need a switcher. You would need something like a capture card or a capture device. This is a device that takes your audio and video and allows you to input it into your computer. BlackMagic Design also has some devices for that.

Computer

Once you have all of your audio and video equipment setup, you’re now ready to get everything into the computer. For our setup, we use one of the Blackmagic Design Deck Link capture cards in an older Mac Pro. Our audio and video are combined within our switcher, and then sent to the capture card using a HD-SDI cable. This is a high quality coax cable.

On our computer we use a piece of software called Wirecast. Wirecast is a virtual software switcher, but the real advantage for us is it allows us to send multiple streams to our streaming provider.

Streaming Provider

Finally, once you have everything setup and ready to go, you need to figure out how to get your audio and video you are capturing, and put it into the hands of your people. For this we use a company called ChurchStreaming.tv. The nice thing about a streaming provider is they make your job a lot easier. You have enough to worry about within your physical building, so let someone else take care of where your signal goes outside of your building.

For us, we send our streaming provider to two separate streams. One is a high quality HD signal and the other is a lower quality SD signal. The reason for this is so that no matter what kind of wireless signal strength the person watching your service has, they should be able to see the service, even if it is the lower quality stream.

Final Thoughts

Understand none of the items listed above are a requirement, however, I would argue there is great value in putting more money and personnel toward your online streaming platform. Right now we see an average of 10,000 – 11,000 viewers per month across all of our streaming outlets.

I’d love to hear how and what you use to stream. If you have a question about how we stream or maybe some equipment you might be looking into, I would be more than happy to give you my opinion.

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