Streaming: Take the Time to Test To Learn What Works
Resources in the video production and streaming industry are endless, with no limit to what you can accomplish using multi-camera systems, studio lighting rigs, high-end encoding devices, multi-staff teams, etc.
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The most important thing, though, is to recognize that cameras allow our worship services to reach beyond the four walls of the local church.
After successfully creating a streaming strategy for your church, determining who you are targeting with your stream as an audience, the purpose behind why you are streaming, the budget and staff needed to pull it off, as well as determining what type of cameras and encoders would be quality choices of equipment, there are a number of additional considerations, beginning with the capture device, that should be part of the overall decision-making process relating to streaming.
In my piece last week, I referred to “Bob,” a volunteer that I have previously worked with in the past. Using his MacBook Pro, I directed Bob to purchase the UltraStudio Mini Studio Recorder from Blackmagic Design. This is a bare-bones capture card that OBS will recognize, resulting in a decent encoding suite, for around $150.
For those whose systems are running on Windows, consider the Elgato Cam Link. There are many options for Windows, mostly fueled by the gaming community. Elgato is widely used, and will get the job done.
With the camera, HDMI capture, and encoding software in place, Bob and I were ready to get started, to test his encoding platform. Understanding his requirement to stream into Facebook Live, I walked Bob through the OBS settings, based on the Facebook streaming requirements:
• A maximum resolution of 720p (720 x 1280), at 30 frames per second.
• A keyframe (I-frame) at least once every two seconds throughout the stream must be sent.
• A recommended maximum video bitrate of 4 Mbps.
• An audio bitrate that must be 128 Kbps mono.
• An audio sample rate that must be 44.1 KHz.
With these settings in place, we navigated over to Facebook’s Create A Live Stream and selected “Start Streaming”. The first task was to copy the streaming URL, which typically remains the same when using Facebook Live. We then copied the stream key, which is a unique code that routes the video from the encoder into your Facebook Live account.
Recently, Facebook made it possible to opt for a “Persistent Stream Key” (see screenshot). This option enables you to enter the key in your encoder, one time, and never need to change it again. This is a nice option that makes life easier, because all you have to do, on Sunday morning, is start broadcasting from your encoder, using the previous settings.
NOTE: It is critically important to prevent the stream key from falling into the wrong hands. A person with malicious intent could use your stream key to virtually vandalize your church, by broadcasting inappropriate material to your Facebook Live page. If you do lose track of your stream key, generate a new one when creating a new stream.
Latest ResourceWorship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.