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Streaming to YouTube Live

YouTube logo inset in filmstrip frames

One fairly easy way to stream a worship service is to use a laptop computer, a webcam, Wi-Fi, and YouTube Live.

Pros:

  • Free
  • You don't need an account to view a YouTube Livestream
  • The recording can be available for later viewing.

Cons:

  • You cannot stream from a mobile device (e.g cell phone or tablet) unless you have 1000 subscribers.
  • You can only use materials for which you have the copyright.​

You will need:

  • Any computer with a built-in or separate webcam (the “Videocaster” computer); a separate webcam is better because the built-in webcam faces the user, and it’ll be hard to start and stop streaming without getting into the picture

  • A second computer, tablet, or phone for the “Tech Usher,” who will monitor the stream and chat with folks online during the service

  • Extension cord, so the computer doesn’t run out of battery while streaming

  • A table or stand where the computer can be positioned to face the front of the sanctuary

You’ll need at least two people: a Videocaster at the Videocaster computer, starting and stopping the streaming, and a Tech Usher at the Tech Usher computer, tablet, or phone, monitoring the stream, answering questions from the folks online, pasting hymn lyrics into the chat, etc.

Using YouTube Live

YouTube Live is one of the simplest streaming systems to use. Log in to YouTube; your congregation may already have a Google account, which comes with a YouTube account. You can schedule events ahead of time and publicize the web addresses. You can also embed the player in your website. You can also add additional people (Google IDs) as administrators on your congregation’s YouTube account, so they can stream from their devices.

Setting Up a YouTube Event

Here’s how to create a YouTube event you plan to stream. YouTube is in the midst of switching over to a new system, so what you see may be different from what’s described here. You can do these steps from any computer.

  1. You Tube Studio on a computer and log in with the congregation’s YouTube account. Or from any YouTube page, click the account icon in the upper right corner of the web page and choose YouTube Studio. This is the YouTube Studio Dashboard.

  2. Click the Create button or icon near the upper right corner of the page and choose Go Live.

  3. Choose Webcam from the options along the top. Allow your browser to use your microphone and webcam.

  4. Fill in the information about the event you are going to stream. 

  5. Set Schedule For Later to be selected and enter the date and time of the service.

  6. Click Next (you might need to scroll down to see this button). It’ll take a photo to use as the thumbnail for the video, but you can replace that with your congregation’s logo. 

  7. Click Done to create a YouTube event with a web address (URL) that you can send out to your congregation -- it’s where the video will be once you go live. You return to the YouTube Studio Dashboard. You see all the events you have scheduled.

  8. To get the address of the YouTube page where the video will be displayed, move your mouse over the event, click the three-dot icon to the right of the event name, and choose Get Sharable Link. It is copied to your computer’s clipboard.

You’ll use the computer with the webcam (the Videocaster computer) to stream the service. You’ll use the second laptop, tablet, or phone to monitor the stream and communicate with viewers.

Testing Your Setup

Follow these steps to set up and test your streaming:

  1. Create a YouTube Live event as described above.

  2. Arrange for someone -- the Tech Usher -- on phone, tablet, or computer to watch from another room for the test.

  3. Sign into the congregation’s account from the Videocaster computer.

  4. Set up the webcam so it points to the chancel or lectern where speakers will be during the service.

  5. In your browser, go to the YouTube Studio and click the event you created.

  6. Choose Go Live. the stream will start.

  7. Go through the motions of a service, including speaking from each place where parts of the service will happen. You can move the webcam to pan from place to place, but do it slowly -- don’t give your viewer whiplash.

  8. Check with the Tech Usher that everything looks good. 

  9. Click End Stream at the end of the test. You can return to the YouTube Studio page or edit the information about your video.

  10. Choose Edit Video, click the three-dots icon in the upper right of the page, and choose Delete to delete the video of your test.

Diagram of how to set up a webcam and laptop for streaming

For hardware setup details, see Streaming Sunday Services - Technical Tips.