By now you’ve likely put out the call for volunteers and met with your board of directors and leaders to figure out a budget for equipment and licensing fees. What’s next on the “start live-streaming” to-do list?
Choosing a Streaming Service
If your primary goal is to get your services broadcast to as many people as possible, there are platforms like YouTube, Periscope, Instagram Live, etc., that offer live streaming. The primary benefit of using services like YouTube is that your live streams will be available for as long as you want. You will also likely benefit from the “related videos” algorithm, which will introduce your services to people who might not have stumbled upon them otherwise.
If you prefer to use services that are specifically set up for churches, there are also live streaming platforms that cater specifically to churches, like DaCast, StreamingChurch, and ChurchStreaming.tv. Take some time to explore the different packages these services offer.
Virtual Sets and Backgrounds
Yes, it is true that you could set up a camera in the pews and then simply deliver your sermons from your usual pulpit. And, if your church is already set up with good lighting and sound, this might be the easiest way to go, especially once the pandemic is over and you’re able to pack the pews again.
If your church is humbler, however, it’s worth looking into setting up your own makeshift studio with virtual sets and backgrounds. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry!
All you need is a green-screen, and you can find those relatively cheaply online. It’s also likely that some of your parishioners already have them and might be willing to lend one to you to use and play around with until you can afford your own.
In addition to virtual sets and green-screen backgrounds, you need to make sure your lighting and sound are set up well.
Natural lighting is best so if you can set up your studio to face a window you should do that. If that isn’t an option, you can fake that look relatively cheaply with some daylight bulbs and clamp lights.
For maximum effect, find a way to diffuse their light so that it casts an even glow.
The simplest way to make sure that your live streams sound good is to use a good microphone while you are speaking. Do not rely on the microphone in your camera to get the job done. Instead invest in a solid condenser microphone. These microphones will pick up your speaking voice but not whatever background noise may be going on around you—and any ambient noise they do pick up, they are built to filter out.
Note: It is also helpful to caption your live streams so that those who might be hard of hearing can easily follow along.
Live streaming can very quickly start to feel overwhelming once you get into the details of video production and distribution.
Just remember: you don’t have to be perfect right away. It’s okay to develop your skills over time!