Livestream Basics Technical Tips to Help You Share Your Live Worship Services Online

Introduction and Overview of Camera Options for Livestreaming

Warren gives an overview of different camera options, with benefits and drawbacks of each:

  • Smart Phones
  • WebCams
  • Wireless Livestreaming Cameras (e.g. Mevo)
  • Camcorders with Optical Zoom (e.g Canon Vixia)
  • PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) Cameras

See the RH sidebar for sample schematics of each set-up.

Tips to Improve Your Audio (Sound) for Livestreaming

If you are using a smart phone to stream your audio and are simultaneously using a microphone to be amplified for in person participants, thoroughly test the in-person speaker placement to avoid reverb (e.g. annoying echoes and screeches).

Microphones work best when they are close to the subject. If you are using the microphone on the camera, the camera needs to be positioned as close as possible to the subject.

Cameras designed for livestreaming (like the Mevo®) have directional microphones that help to reduce background noise.

If your church has a sound system and mixing board and your computer has an audio jack input (i.e. for an 1/8" aux cable), it's best to use the output on the mixing board for your audio feed to your streaming platform (e.g. Zoom, YouTube, Facebook Live, etc.)

If available, use the auxiliary output on your congregation’s sound board for the input to the laptop running Zoom. This way you can set different sound levels for your online participants. For instance you may want to have a microphone at the piano for the online participants but not amplify it for those in the sanctuary.

If your computer does not have an audio jack, you can use a unit called an audio interface that will send the audio to a USB cable that can connect to any computer (though an adaptor may be needed).

We have additional tips for integrating people who are online into the in-person service.

Adding Slides and/or Using Multiple Cameras

Using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software)

As you gain confidence you may wish to make your livestream more interesting by adding presentation slides with graphics and titles, or even multiple camera shots. This can be done with free OBS Studio (Open Broadcaster Software).

There are user guides, YouTube tutorials, and other assistance readily available from multiple resources to help you out.

Using Wireless Livestreaming Cameras

Some wireless livestreaming cameras offer their own software or app to use multiple cameras. For example, you can use several Mevo cameras and use their app to switch the view between the speaker, pianist and congregation with just a cell phone .

Open Broadcaster Software can be used to incorporate multiple cameras and slides

Schematic Showing Multiple Cameras and Open Broadcaster Software

Camera Mounting and Placement

The type of camera that you are using will help determine whether you need to position the camera close to the subject or whether the camera can be positioned further away.

  • Smart Phones, WebCams, and Wireless Livestreaming Cameras need to be positioned close to the subject. Positioning these cameras far away will result in pixelated (fuzzy) video.
  • Camcorders and PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras use optical zoom, which provides high-quality video even at a distance. PTZ cameras usually have remotes and presets that give you options for different shots.

It's also helpful to invest in a quality tripods or permanent mounting brackets to keep the cameras steady.

Lighting

Cameras capture light, so the better the lighting on your subject, the better the video quality will be.

  • Subjects that are in front of a window will likely need additional lighting,
  • Subjects with dark complexions often need additional lighting.
  • If there are shadows obscuring any facial features of your subject, you should consider additional lighting.

If You Need Help

You can find local audio/visual professionals to answer questions and help with more complicated set-ups.

Note: Thanks to the UU Church of Youngstown, OH, for the use of their building to create these videos!

About the Authors

Warren Brown

Warren Brown lives in Boardman, OH and is the owner of Brown Audio Service, LLC. He has helped his own UU church and dozens of others to install hearing loops and other assistive listening systems. He installed a hearing loop in the main hall of the 2016 UUA General Assembly in Columbus, OH....

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) is a Congregational Life Consultant and program manager for Leadership Development.

For more information contact .

Position smart phone close to subject for live streaming.

Schematic for Streaming Using a Smart Phone

 Position webcam close to subject for live streaming.

Schematic for Streaming Using a WebCam

 Position live-streaming-style camera close to subject.

Schematic for Streaming Using a Live-Streaming-Style Camera

Camcorders with Optical Zoom can be positioned anywhere for live streaming.

Schematic for Streaming Using a Camcorder with Optical Zoom

Wall mounted pan-tilt-zoom cameras can be positioned anywhere

Schematic for Streaming Using a PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) Camera