Houses of Worship

Houses of Worship are gravitating towards Live Streaming systems as a permanent way to reach current and potential members. This recent development was encouraged by the social distancing laws implemented from the Covid-19 pandemic. In the beginning of the pandemic, Houses of Worship like churches, temples, and mosques scrambled to find ways to continue spreading their message and outreach to those unable to attend. Pastors, bishops, rabbis, and reverends alike soon discovered Live Streaming was not just a temporary solution, but a valuable tool when it comes to retaining members' attention. Now, with an overwhelming amount of information online, how do we know exactly what to buy and who’s going to install and operate this equipment? Take a look below for answers to these questions.

What You’ll Need to Start Live Streaming

To find out, we’ll need to ask a series of questions. What type of live show are you creating and what is the budget? Budgets are a necessary component when choosing all the options in a live streaming system. If operating on an entry-level budget, about $2000 will get you up and streaming. If the overall equipment exceeds the current budget, you can easily expand later as the budget increases based on the broadcasting results. A medium range budget would be between $4000–$7000 for most applications.

What media platforms are you targeting for the live stream: YouTube, Facebook, private websites? Are you streaming to one or multiple platforms? This is important because if streaming to multiple platforms, you’ll need either an upgraded software program package or two computers working in parallel to handle the processing speed requirements. Live streaming programs use a ton of computer processing and memory which slows computer performance unless equipped with a costly Intel Core i9 processor. Alternatively, there are monthly subscriptions to services like Restream making this possible with just a single computer running Intel Core i5 or higher.

What is the distance between the camera and the intended shots? You will need to decide the best zoom option for your application: 10x, 12x, 20x, or 30x. Based on this information, check our zoom calculator to help you decide.

What about control? PTZ cameras require motorized control of the Pan, Tilt, and Zoom functions. Popular control options include Joystick Controllers, IR Remotes, Control Programs, and Internal Web Interfaces.

Which type of connection is best for your application or environment? USB and HDMI are adequate for short distance runs while SDI cabling is great for runs up to 328 feet. LAN connections can also be utilized with streaming protocols such as NDI and RTSP.

Lastly, how will this stream be introduced to the web? Most BZBGEAR PTZ cameras offer the ability to stream from the camera itself when connected to the LAN. Another option is to use a dedicated Streaming Device like the BG-HAVS using a web interface for configuring and streaming to media platforms. The most common method is choosing a Live Streaming Software platform like vMix, OBS Studio, Wirecast, Xsplit, or ProPresenter.

Commonly Purchased Components for Houses of Worship

The most common setups include two to three PTZ cameras, one to two Microphones, one Production Switcher, one Capture Device/Card, and an Audio Mixer or Preamp. A 12x zoom PTZ camera for close-up shots of the choir while a 30x zoom camera for long distance shots is a common combination as the 12x is less expensive, saving some money for other devices like microphones; preferably wireless microphones. If you are not using a software program for digital mixing, then a Hardware Production Switcher will be required when installing more than one camera. Production Switchers come in a variety of connections so be certain to select the correct switcher for your application design or ask a professional. If your Production Switcher cannot stream to a computer using a USB Capture output, you’ll be required to buy an external capture device or computer capture card. The reason is computers are not outfitted with HDMI or SDI outputs. However, they do offer bidirectional USB ports; we just need to convert the signal into USB form so our computers recognize the device for data transfer communications.

Some other equipment that may or may not be required are HDMI and USB extenders over Cat5/6 cabling. These are used when cameras are too far away exceeding the distance limitation of the cable. An example would be the BG-EXH70C HDMI extenders capable of going up to 20 feet in distance. USB 2.0 extenders are fairly common while USB 3.0 extenders are not; if you can find one, it will be upwards of $1000. The other options for extending signals are known as Active Cables using Fiber Optics for signal transmissions. Active HDMI cables like the BG-CAB-HA50 can go up to 50 meters / 164 feet without latency. While the BG-CAB-U3A20 USB 3.0 cable can go 20 meters / 66 feet transmitting data up to 5 Gbps for those longer runs.

Another technology growing in popularity that works well for larger venues is AV over IP. These are smaller devices living on the Local Area Network for the purpose of transmitting Audio, Video, and Control signals from sources to displays without the need for additional AV cabling. The only cabling needed is a CAT5/6 cable which also provides power. See our AVoIP resource page for more information.

Optional Connection Methods for Live Streaming: NDI, SDI, HDMI, USB3.0 and LAN

The more familiar connections like HDMI, SDI, and USB 3.0 use a video cable from the camera to a Capture Device or Production Switcher. HDMI has a limit of about 25 feet, but as noted above, you can extend this signal with a Category extender or Active Fiber cable. SDI cabling is inexpensive and durable for long runs up to 328 feet while also using locking BNC connectors to ensure cables don't get disconnected. USB 3.0 cables are for short runs typically up to 15 feet. Anything longer will require an Active USB cable or extender. The LAN or IP Streaming port can be utilized for RTSP (Real Time Serial Protocol) or NDI (Network Device Interface) which works with the majority of Software Programs. NDI compression is the preferred method as it also includes the ability to send and receive control signals as well. There are a multitude of resources including Control Programs for this registered trademark by Newtek. NDI is successful thanks to zero latency and low compression standards, making it ideal for any House of Worship with a strong Local Area Network and manageable Network Switch for setting up VLANs.

Why Should I Use Multiple Cameras for Live Streaming?

By using two to three PTZ cameras, the live program will offer more than one shot or angle complementing the live stream’s overall appearance. This provides more content and keeps the viewer’s attention. An example would be a single camera designated for shots of the choir and attending audience members, while the second camera captures the speaker at the podium. Like our TV Broadcasts, the professionalism of a Live Stream will not only be dictated by the equipment, but also the operator. It's critical to ensure the person in charge of the live production has spent serious time studying the equipment and software for the best overall viewer experience. This usually means about 15 hours for the basics when it comes to the average person with zero to little experience in this field.

What about Software or Streaming Devices?

And what about Software Programs? Well, this is a user preference choice. OBS Studio is nice as a free program but has many limitations including only being able to stream to one media platform at a time. You'll need to do more homework and watch videos since they do not offer tech support. BZBGEAR recommends downloading a few programs for free as trials to gauge your preferences on layouts and abilities such as third layers and audio adjustments. Picking the best software can be a chore, but essentially will be the maestro of the production so it's imperative to take the necessary time to get it right.