HD Broadcasting Options?

My town congregation is looking for a way to broadcast HD live videos (along with sound) over the internet so that sick people at home or hospital can virtually attend the christian meetings.

Any suggestions?

Holy thanks!

-Ronald


Ronald, I do not have direct experience. I did ask a friend who did and he said their church uses Livestream. Beware though Livestream's plans are incredibly confusing. It seems you have to login to their site and cannot embed it into your own page unless you buy the $399 monthly plan (I could be wrong).

He also mentioned Amazon Cloud Front though I don't think he has used it himself. It looks like you can do live streaming with it.

I am sure there will be other (better) responses.

Thanks John,

The free/basic Livestream plans seem like that would work and it is simpler than Amazon Cloud Front to understand.

I'll check all other suggestions before making up my mind.

BTW, most viewers will be French-speaking, not knowing English very much.

-Ron

you could check hiring some space on satellite channels?

Hi Huzaifa,

And broadcasting it on TV? That'd be awesome since many elders may not have internet access (although this country is supposedly the most connected in the world), but that must cost a fortune.

-Ron

Does your town have a 'public access channel'? I'm not sure that religious programming is eligible, but I worked on a similar setup for a Mennonite settlement where they used the local public access channel to pipe over services to the town retirement village.

Getting this done was surprisingly simple. The broadcast channel folks gave us a port at their NOC to tie into, and we simply had to run signal to that port. Of course, they had to help with the programming bit (cutting over to the feed every Sunday), but there was no special equipment needed to make it work. We took an Analog out loop, and then used a fiber media converter to get it tied into the NOC.

Hi Brian,

None that I'm aware of. It is a laidback town ... in a very wooden area.

We do have a Mennonite graveyard not far from my house though. <s>

-Ron

Ronald, we don't stream our services, rather we are setup to make DVD's and then distribute them within a few days to those who couldn't get to church. Eventually, we may get to streaming.

If you are planning to use a security grade camera, I would recommend not. Security cameras don't have the quality that people are used to seeing on TV. They are too contrasty, don't handle changeable light very well, color may not be true, etc. If you are using multiple cameras, and I hope you do, it will be hard to match the picture quality of your cameras with each other.

I think it is better to use a camera designed for broadcast or streaming, even if you can only afford a low-end camera as long as it is designed for broadcast or streaming.

You will probably need to do some panning, tilting and maybe a little dolly work. So be sure to mount your cameras on good quality stable tripods with ball fluid heads. That will be money well spent and will make a huge difference in the smoothness of your camera moves.

With multiple cameras you will need a switcher so you can cut and cross fade between cameras, and you will also need a way to match picture quality of each camera. Be sure to use cameras with the current 16:9 wide-screen format and not the older 4:3 format.

Also, I recommend that you and your crew get some instruction in live multiple camera work. There's lot's of material out there online and in books, as well as watching how others are doing it.

Here's a link to a church that is streaming on a tight budget using a lot of volunteers. I am not a member of this church, but I've seen some of their free downloadable archived worship services and they seem to provide good quality video. They also stream their live services.

If you contact them they will probably be glad to explain the method they use to stream their programs.

David,

I don't think cuts and crossfading are needed, just live broadcasting from beginning of meetings to end. The first meeting, there's a talk at the front, so one camera is good enough. But, the second meeting, there are two persons at the front speaking alternatively, and people in the audience making comments. Obviously, a need to see anyone speaking through a portable mic in the audience at times. That sounds like a real challenge.

-Ron

You could perhaps make use of Youtube Live to stream ?

I presume YouTube means it would be available for the world to see??

No, streams can be marked private, just like regular videos. They even have multi-camera support...

Hi Ronald, I concur with David Hansel that surveillance cameras would not be appropriate for your needs and it would be nice to use a few camera angles with a switcher if possible. Depending upon the budget, you could use anything from a low cost, consumer HD video camera with HDMI output or a more professional camera with better optics and either HDMI or SDI ouput. SDI has the advantage that you can run long cables up to 300 feet whereas HDMI can become unreliable when running cables over 7 feet. If you do use a camera with SDI output, make sure it outputs video with embedded audio. Some SDI cameras output their audio via a seperate analog or AES/EBU audio connection which is annoyingly cumbersome and creates unwanted technicalities.

I used to work for Blackmagic Design which makes uncompressed SDI and HDMI products for the film and broadcast industries. If you want to use several cameras, I suggest you take a look at their ATEM switchers. In particular, the ATEM Television Studio is great if you want to connect a few HDMI and HD-SDI cameras. The company's DeckLink and Intensity uncompressed capture cards can be used with streaming products, such as Telestream Wirecast and Apple's QuickTime Broadcaster, to capture the output of a camera or switcher for streaming to the internet. I hope this gives you a few more ideas. Regards, Luke.

Thanks Luke for the thorough insight. Very useful info.

I talked to my nephew earlier and he said that in the past he simply used a regular 720p Logitech webcam with UStream to display live images from his father's nightclub and that the video quality was good even due to the dark scene.

As for the cabling distance, I suppose we can use a laptop by the camera that transmits over WI-FI.

Regards,

-Ron

Hi Ron,

i'm big fan of Logitech webcams and find them great for Skype and similar. You've got nothing to lose by testing one with Ustream in your church. However you'll get far superior results using a low-cost consumer HD video camera made by Sony or Panasonic. The optical zoom and low light performance of many of these cameras should give excellent results. The built-in mics are often surprisingly good and of course you can often add wireless or bluetooth mics to many of these cameras which you can't easily do with a USB webcam. Take the HDMI output of the camera and capture it to your computer with a low cost device such as Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder. You can use it with Ustream by following their video guide.

Good luck with your testing!

Ronald

My church uses U-stream. I actually watched it from home last Sunday for the first time and it worked great.

It offers free mobile, browser and desktop apps. It also sells an app for encoding different types of data flow, multicamera switchers, bonded cellular devices, etc......

Get an HDcctv camera (make sure it's SMPTE 292M standard, I've been burned before by reps falsely claiming their cameras would work with SMPTE 292M equipment- Vitek works well). Wire RG6 to an encoder such as the BlackMagic Design Ultrastudio Express, plug it into your USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt into your computer, run a wire from your audio mixer to the Ultrastudio Express, and stream via Ustream. Done, no muss, no fuss.

Ronald -

I've been researching this very issue for my church (Riverbend, in Austin TX), though my project is not online just yet. The opportunity is to bring in live viewers of classes remotely, and to offer replays of some classes after the fact along with downloadable PDF files of any study materials. I installed a Video Insight VMS system there some years ago, so that's where I started.

From a technical point of view, the VI video server and Web Viewer client works well for streaming video and audio. Although there is sometimes a slight lip-syncing issue, it's not a real problem. VI has provided an API to embed the viewer in a web page (this is often done for customers like pet-sitting services, as you can imagine). I will update IPVM when we get back to the project and are ready for previews. As the overall production values are expected to be less important than the content, a single-camera setup is all that I am proposing.

The surprising complication, however, is the legal and licensing gotchas. It seems that the music (most modern music, every clip used to illustrate or intro a live sermon, and even more traditional tunes that you might expect) is covered by very restrictive rights and usage rules. What is fair game with a live audience becomes severly expensive when 'broadcast' over the internet. This explains why most television broadcasts from churches are cut down to just the speaking and none of the singing or other music. I hope, later, to offer online replays of the larger assemblies, using the same VI video server to stream mixed television programming, albeit without the licensed material.

My megachurch uses Subsplash for both live and recorded services.

If you conduct a web search for "live church broadcast internet" you will find a number of other services that specialize in this type of content delivery.

Depending upon the number of clients, your church may not have the server or upload bandwidth resources to do it yourself.