Everything I Used To Start Live Streaming At Our Church


24 May 2016

As we came into 2016, our church’s leadership team had a vision to launch several new projects, including live video. Behind this idea was our lead pastor’s heart to reach outside of our four walls and provide a worship experience for those away. But beyond that, we also hoped to create a better experience in our auditorium and pave the way for a second satellite location.

Our church, Piedmont Chapel, is a plant that was launched back in September 2014, so we are still new kids on the block. We are a portable church meeting in a movie theater with on-site storage available. On Sundays, we have two services and run around 400 in attendance. Being new and portable both bring their own set of challenges in terms of budget and setup.

With the help of a few friends who are experienced in the production world, lots of YouTube videos, and a few Facebook groups, I took on the task of putting together our video package rather than going through an outside consultant.  My goal was to accomplish these tasks:

• Live stream video of our services online (website + app)
• Archive messages on our website and app
• Record/archive our services for use in promo videos
• Display “IMAG” in our auditorium during messages
• Prepare to send video to a second location in the future

Accomplishing this vision was made possible by the generosity of our church family. As a part of our Christmas offering, we were able to raise $25,000 to go towards making this project a reality. God is good! I began my research soon after and we were ready to go live by Easter Sunday.

Because of our portable location and unconventional masking on our projector (see photos), I had to put together a pretty unique system. For example, our switcher is actually two switchers in one – one is used for streaming/recording and the other sends a masked image to our projector to work with our stage setup. Most churches could get away with a switcher that’s 1/4 of the price.

Another interesting example is that we run two different iMacs with ProPresenter. One is solely for the stream/recording, while the other is sized to show in our auditorium.

I built most of our system on BlackMagic Design products. We use an ATEM switcher, the new Studio Cameras, and several of their adapters. While BMD products all seem to have their challenges and workarounds, I’ve been happy our system overall. I especially love being able to run one fiber cable from our switcher to each camera rather than a thick snake of SDI’s and com cables.


Other interesting notes about our system:

• We run a four camera system – two cameras on a center platform, one on drums, and one in the back of the room.

• Our “video world” is located in the projection room of our theater. We are able to leave this equipment set up throughout the week.

• All of our audio comes straight from our X32 sound board via two XLR cables.

• We use a Mac Mini with a Dell touchscreen monitor to control our switcher.

• The Teradek VidiU Pro is our primary device for streaming and is one of my new favorite pieces of equipment to recommend.

• We stream for FREE by using YouTube Live Events and the Church Online Platform. (We also hope to integrate Facebook Live soon.)

• Because we cannot get internet at our portable location, we use a 4G Verizon Wireless hotspot for all of our streaming. We’ve successfully streamed at 720p with no problems for two months.


While I have been extremely happy with our results, I’ve realized that live video and streaming is not for every church. There is a large cost upfront and it requires a lot of manpower. Our setup requires at least five team members on Sundays. Our team is getting better each week, but I have to spend a lot of time with them perfecting our product. (And we still have a long way to go!)

At two months in, we average about 100 devices watching live each week. In addition, we average around 120 on-demand views every week. Our next step is to add an online campus pastor that can interact and pray with these viewers on Sundays as we continue to build our audience.

Below is also a link that gives a full equipment list and budget of what we purchased. I hope it will help you as you consider live streaming in your church!

Download Equipment List

What do you think?

Does your church do live streaming?
Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Kendall Conner

Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.

Comments

  1. Ernesto Banales : May 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love your setup!

  3. Love it man. I have been feeling impressed to get this going for our church for a few years now, but we have been less than finiancially able to do this. Ive been pouring over the studio camera options and switchers by Blackmagic. I think we’ll have to purchase it bit by bit, but Im okay with that. We’ve started using a mobile phone and streaming directly to facebook for a few weeks now and we get a great response, so Im hopeful to step the production quality up.
    Ive gotten setup with Lifechurch.tv’s streaming campus as well, Just need to take the next step forward. Thanks again for this!

    • Kendall Conner : May 24, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      You should look into the Teradek! You can hook a single camera to it and stream to FB Live. It would be a great next step.

    • Hey Chad! I too love Piedmont’s setup! On the facebook live dilemma, have you looked at Mevo (http://getmevo.com)? Its a pretty handy little camera that allows multiple “shots” from one camera and it streams directly to facebook live and livestream as well as records video for archiving and later publishing. You’ll have to take a look at it to see what I mean. Controlled by an ios (and eventually android) device and you can use house audio via the headphone port on your device making it super simple to mix off a matrix on a board if you have that functionality available. Just check it out!

  4. Could you clarify how you send a masked image through one of the M/E’s to the projector?

  5. What settings are you using to encode?

    • Kendall Conner : May 24, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      The Teradek makes it so easy that I don’t normally deal with a lot of details. I check our connection speed with it each week and it always recommends sending a 720p quality, so I roll with that. Sorry I’m not more help!

  6. We use YouTube Live too! But how are you using YouTube Live on Church Online Platform. Did you just copy and past the URL or is there some work around you have to do?

    • Kendall Conner : May 24, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      The two actually work really well together! Each week I create a new event on YouTube and then copy the embed code into the Church Online Platform.

      • Hey Kendall! We use a VidiU Pro and Youtube Live as well as Subsplash app. How do you get the live stream into the subsplash app? I believe there is a M3U8 code or something needed? But from where?

        • Kendall Conner : September 1, 2016 at 9:24 am

          Hey, Brian. We did this outside of the conventional Subsplash method. We simply provided an outside link in one of our lists.

  7. Great information; thanks for sharing! Blown away by both the cost and the manpower. We’ve having trouble getting enough people to pledge for the new fiscal year, and have just introduced a new slide show system (it may be ProPresenter). The worship team handles most of that.

  8. Thanks for sharing this. A question I have is how you do your recording as the methods I know usually require a whole lot of storage.

    • Kendall Conner : May 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      We use the HyperDeck Studio Pro 2 to record full-quality video onto a hard drive live. Two services recorded together adds up to about 50gb for us. We archive only the ones we think we’ll use later.

      • Hi Kendall. Thanks so much for your reply. We use similar Blackmagic Equipment in my church also. Our recording is done using the Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 for full-quality video but we get very heavy files. Can you please elucidate on the recording format/codec you are using. Our switcher runs at 1080i50.
        Thanks

      • Hi Kendall. Thanks so much for your reply. We use similar Blackmagic Equipment in my church also. Our recording is done using the Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 for full-quality video but we get very heavy files. Can you please elucidate on the recording format/codec you are using. Our switcher runs at 1080i50.
        Thanks a lot

      • Hi Kendall. Thanks so much for your reply. We use similar Blackmagic Equipment in my church also. Our recording is done using the Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 for full-quality video but we get very heavy files. Can you please expatiate on the recording format/codec you are using. Our switcher runs at 1080i50.
        Thanks a lot

  9. Thank you for sharing!

    We have a very similar church setup to you. Using a cinema, but we have to remove everything every week. Also use a Blackmagic mixer & ProP.

    For streaming we use:
    – Blackmagic mini recorder with thunderbolt (£130) that capture one of the house SDI outputs from the mixer and a dedicated camera feed on hdmi. You are able to switch between inputs with a few black frames
    – Mac mini loaded with wirecast play (£10) (technically a mac mini does not have sufficient specs). Wirecast can also play clips and other content directly. Not sure if this could be a way of getting rid of the second mixer.

    It means we use software encoding for our 720p50 stream, but it works ok.

    We have had a Virgin Business fibre line installed. I cant imagine streaming over 4g! But maybe the teradec helps

    • Kendall Conner : May 24, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      I follow everything you’re describing! That’s a slick, lean system!

      The Teradec is amazing! I highly recommend it. I never thought the 4G would work, but it has been consistent. I’m impressed with it.

  10. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this and write it in such a way that is practical! Good for you and your church!

  11. Thanks for sharing this. Love the excellence you put in each post, and desire to help others take it to the next level!

  12. Brett Meredith : May 25, 2016 at 8:48 am

    We have an X32 console at my church. How have you setup your audio send to the video recorder? We’ve struggled on how to get the best mix sent out.

    • Kendall Conner : June 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      We’ve tried a couple different ways. We were just essentially coming out of the main outputs. We have recently switched a post-mix monitor. We’re using an iPad in the video area to control a custom mix from there.

  13. Thanks for the great post. My church (in China) is working through streaming while being a portable church that meets in a hotel. We don’t have quite as large of a budget, and don’t have any space that can be permanently set up for video control. For those that face this problem, we have had some success using Telestream Wirecast running on a MacBook Pro. It is limited to 2 camera inputs and has a few frames of latency, because of the signal conversions and software switcher. Therefore, we cannot use it for IMAG, but it is good enough for an overflow/cry room, and handles encoding, streaming and recording all from the laptop (that is easy to transport for our portable church). The cameras, tripods and associated equipment is contained in a road case that serves as a desk during the service. I can give more details if anyone is interested. Hopefully, we will upgrade to a ATEM switcher this year, but this has allowed us to get started at a much lower cost.

    • Kendall Conner : May 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Awesome to hear how you’re making it happen on a budget. Roland has some great options that may work better for your next step.

      • I have some more questions for you, but may not need to hijack the comments from your OP. However, the contact section of your website fails when I try to send an e-mail, and I live in China and cannot access the other social media sites you listed. How can I reach you?

    • Quentin Rogers : March 30, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      I would love a equipment list. It seems like I could manage a small setup for my church.

  14. what lenses are you using on your Studio Cameras?

  15. Great post! On a slightly related note, whats your process for uploading your messages online? What service to you use to embed the video in the site? Thanks!

    • Kendall Conner : May 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      We stream with YouTube and we could technically just use that as our archived video because it saves the live stream to our account. However, we record a high quality version separately that we go back and edit. We upload straight to Subsplash’s “Church App” which shows on our website and app.

  16. Kendall, my name is Dale and I’m the XP here at Forest Park with your boy TJ Wallace. Are you guys using your live audio mix for online or are you doing a separate audio mix for that?

    • Kendall Conner : May 25, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      What’s up, Dale?! Are you keeping TJ straight?

      We have been using our house mix for audio. In the future we hope to run a separate mix for online.

  17. Great post! What do you use to communicate with your camera operators?

    • Kendall Conner : May 31, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Hey, Tyrone. The Blackmagic cameras and switcher have a built-in comm system. You just plug in your own headsets. It’s awesome.

      • Wow that’s great! Thanks for the reply! I do have one other question. You mentioned streaming on Facebook Live in the future. How would something like that be implemented?

  18. Tucker Tangeman : May 31, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    So much good information! I’ve just pieced together a system with a Tricaster Mini? It’s good for what we are doing, it’s so compact I love it! Thanks again for sharing all this information it’s so helpful

    • Kendall Conner : May 31, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Tucker, that’s awesome! I would love to get a list of what you’re using with that system. A friend of mine just bought a Tricaster Mini.

      • To be honest I’m coming from a “learn everything from YouTube” background so please be patient with me. We as a church have invested heavily into this over the past two years! But here it goes

        1. Loads of HDMI cables of ranging sizes and/or a few of those handy black magic hdmi to Sdi converters
        2. Two cameras with a clean hd output via HDMI or Sdi via converter (we use a Canon C100 and a Sony FS5 not typical production cameras but they are multi functional)
        3. A high quality monitor with hdmi or DVI

        And you can really just go with this, everything else is built in and we have had great results. Multiple codecs, internal audio control, output video customization are just a few of the better perks. It might not work for every one but it has worked well for us!

    • Thank you for your article. My Church is in Nigeria. We have a TRICASTER mini set up. But please we are having issues with the livestreaming. We are only receiving audio signal on the livestream while the visual is showing blue screen . Please can you help

      • Hi Kola. I am also in Nigeria. You can contact me via twitter. I may be able to help you out with my little experience. Twitter: @demtimichael
        Cheers.

  19. Nang Khan Khup : June 2, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Can you explain with video? And behind the scene of worship service, and production.
    This article is really helpful for me and give motivate to start live stream our Sunday service in future.
    Thanks for sharing. God bless more and more.

  20. Thanks for the article! Really informative and helpful!

    Do you have any advice for a small portable church of about 200 per week looking to do a simple IMAG setup with one to two cameras?
    We currently use a MacBook Pro running ProPresenter for our projection and we need a system the media operator can easily run alongside their other duties as our current volunteer numbers allow for only two tech team members per Sunday (One guy running sound and lights and one other running media). Budget for this project is pretty small too.
    Any suggestions or help?

    Thanks!

  21. Do you have any problems with advertisements using the YouTube Live Events? We are worried an inappropriate ad will pop-up during broadcast.

    • Kendall Conner : June 21, 2016 at 11:49 am

      For us, ads do not appear during the live event, only if you choose to have playback of the event afterwards. We don’t make this available, so we never have ads.

  22. Hi Kendall, I see that you are using a mac mini with Dell Touchscreen to control the ATEM. What software are you using to enable touchscreen features with the Mac Mini? I am currently using an ATEM 1 M/E controlled with a MacBook Pro and find it clunky to operate with mouse and keyboard. I have been looking into purchasing and programing an X-keys board but would love to go touchscreen if it is reliable.

  23. Great article. Encouraging to see how much progress you’ve made in just two months. Goes to show proper planning and preparation does pay off. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Thanks so much for this! I am in the middle of choosing gear for a live stream. Used this as a start point to make sure we thought of everything. We’re going with ptz cameras (fingers crossed).

  25. Hi Kendall, great article. I have a quick question, how were you able to have pro presenter talk to the ATEM so you can show lower thirds while you’re streaming? I been trying to figure that out for ages and haven’t found anything on it. Maybe you can direct me in the right direction? Thank you in advance!!

    • Kendall Conner : July 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Hey Melany! Good question. I go from our ProPresenter iMac into a Decimator MD-HX converter via HDMI. Then, from the Decimator to the ATEM switcher via SDI. I use two different DSK settings depending on what I want to show over our stream.

      I have our DSK 1 set to remove all black color from the image. I display white lyrics over a solid black background. This ends up looking like plain white lyrics over video.

      I have DSK 2 set to only show a portion of the iMac’s image – this is sized precisely to the dimensions I’ve designed our lower third graphics to. I use this for our sermon slides.

      Hope that helps!

  26. Hey Kendall,

    Thanks for this article! It’s super helpful as we’re putting together a plan to start streaming our services.

    The system I’m building (on paper) is similar to what you’re using. We’re planning on starting with a two camera set-up. For the time being, we will have the two cameras close to the sound booth and controlled from the sound booth in the sanctuary. From what I understand, we could bypass the Studio Converter, optical modules, cross converters, etc. and just run short SDI cables from each camera to the switcher.

    Does that seem right, or am I missing something?

  27. Hi Kendall,

    Love The Creative Pastor, super useful and always well written. Thanks!
    May I ask why you chose and how you went about choosing the lenses you chose for your studio cameras?

  28. Roberto matarrita : September 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Really cool information. I hope my church to get to that place someday.

    Blessing from costa rica.

  29. what is the “App + Web Player 1 $1,000.00”?

    thanks,
    Joel

  30. Hey Kendall I was just curious what settings you use on the X32 to send out the audio. I’m assuming you send 2 channels to send the audio.

  31. Have you had any issues with Youtube live streaming taking down your feed for your worship music? We are looking around at streaming providers and I read that even if your church has the proper licensing, sometimes youtube can still take it down? Have you had any experience like this or is it nothing to be concerned about?

    • Kendall Conner : November 11, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      This hasn’t been a problem during the actual stream, but it definitely causes a problem for the saved video afterwards. We use YouTube for streaming and upload on our SubSplash App for afterwards.

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