From newbie to pro, here’s some equipment advice from the experts
By Andrew Ng
In the previous issue (“Not streaming yet? 3 excellent reasons to get started”), we talked about the main reasons churches are getting into streaming: it’s cost-effective, not overly complicated, and its reach is virtually limitless and immediate.
Now that we know the “why,” let’s get into the “how.”
Here’s our best equipment selection advice for church leaders at any level of streaming prowess.
If you’re a church leader who wants to start streaming content, a few equipment options can get the process started rather effortlessly.
If you already have a camcorder or are ready to purchase one, consider a VidiU Mini. It fits in the palm of your hand and is typically mounted on top of your camera. It has a built-in two-hour battery and is USB-powered; so extending battery life — with USB power supplies — is easy and affordable. Just plug the HDMI output on your camera into the HDMI input of the VidiU Mini; cables are included with your purchase.
Then, connect your VidiU Mini to the Internet, which can be supplied either through Wi-Fi or your smartphone or iPhone. After that, input the destination of your stream. We have natively integrated some of the most popular Content Delivery Networks (CDN), including Ustream, Livestream and Youtube Live, but the possibilities are endless with the VidiU Mini’s manual destination function. All settings and configurations are accessible through the free VidiU app, available for both Android and Apple devices. You can also use a computer!
If you don’t have a camera yet or plan on buying one, check out the free Live:Air app, which lets you stream with just an iPad. You can add titles, graphics, lower-thirds, and even multiple camera angles. All you need is an iPad; an iPad Air 2 is highly recommended.
For intermediates /advanced streamers
If your goal is to ramp up your church’s streaming efforts, consider a few scalable products mentioned above. However, while the VidiU Mini is an excellent solution, the VidiU would be a level up. About the size of a deck of cards, VidiU features an onboard OLED screen for quick adjustments and configuration.
It also offers two additional methods of connecting to the Internet: an Ethernet port for a hardline connection and a USB port for cellular modems.
The process of encoding a live stream requires significant computer processing (CPU), as does the function of switching, adding graphics, and transitions. A hardware live streaming appliance – VidiU or VidiU Mini – relieves the processing demand from your switcher and lets you disperse the payload. So, if the switcher is processing a lot of video, this reduces the chance of a switcher failing or “freezing” by allowing your live stream to go uninterrupted.
Again, the Live:Air app is a great option. Advanced users would benefit from its ability to add multiple camera angles wirelessly using additional iOS devices. For example, by running Live:Air, you can have your iPad Air 2 capture a wide angle of the congregation, a separate iPhone can provide a close-up of the altar, and an iPod Touch can focus on the band.
Multiple camera angles can also be achieved with typical cameras. Just keep in mind that each camera used with Live:Air will need at least a VidiU Mini; however, you can also use the VidiU, VidiU Pro, or the Clip and Cube encoders. Additionally, Live:Air lets you transition between these angles and even do a picture-in-picture.
If you’re looking to improve your church’s already impressive streaming setup, consider VidiU Pro, which includes our ShareLink™ technology. Until recently, this tool was only available to professional broadcasters; now it’s not only accessible to all streamers, but it’s also affordable.
ShareLink combines the power of multiple Internet connections to create a robust, reliable Internet connection. For example, when streaming in the field — where stable Internet connectivity is the most challenging — you can combine the strength of up to four iOS devices to “go live.” While one phone’s connection is typically enough for a 720 HD stream, by adding more connections you can ensure a Full HD 1080 stream.
For stationary applications, using ShareLink is key to providing an uninterrupted stream. For instance, a venue might provide a dedicated Ethernet line for connecting to the Internet; however, that single Ethernet connection could drop out. To avoid this vulnerability, ShareLink can supply backup Internet connections via Wi-Fi, USB cellular modem, or iPhone connections.
We also recommend Live:Air for expert-level streamers. You can deploy the app as its own mobile production team in the field. Especially for retreats in remote locations, this app lets you take a professional workflow anywhere.
No matter where you are in terms of streaming expertise, there’s always room for improvement and a more impactful result. All you need is the desire to learn and the right equipment.
Andrew Ng is Marketing Manager at Teradek in Irvine, CA.