When to start with live-streaming:
"We’d like to stream live, but we’re just not ready yet."
It’s a balancing act: the perfect blend between preparing, getting ready, “doing your home work” and “due diligence” – and hesitating too long, wasting numerous opportunities for growth due to being overly cautious.
Striving for excellence is important, but don’t let yourself be enslaved by the “comparison game”.At the end of the day it is about spreading the good news and helping people, not about matching certain standards of video production quality. That said – there is homework to do – and this is it:
1. Upload Bandwidth: you need to invest into a reliable and stable upload Internet connection at your broadcast location (church sanctuary, venue, office). I would recommend no less than 4 Mbit upload bandwidth – dedicated, not shared. Your Internet Service Provider (Cable Provider) should know what you need and be able to make you an offer.
2. Camera: you may not need more than one camera in the beginning, but the one camera should have a good lens (start looking at $2k and up), sit on a stable tripod with fluid head (the Manfrotto brand has good value, start looking at $400 and up) and stand safely on a riser on eye level with the speakers and performers on stage.
3. Make sure your stage is lit well (no need to over-invest, just make sure the lights you have are point in all the right directions) and the background is free of clutter, all unnecessary and unintentional objects – especially behind the main speakers and performers, which often is the center of the stage. In the area of sound and light it may pay off to consult a professional for a one-time optimization.
4. You need a reliable encoder. Again: no need to over-invest. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an $18,000 encoder – even though there some encoders cost much more than that. But you have to consider this: a reliable brand-name encoder can barely be found under 10k. You can definitely accomplish similar results with a high-end PC or Mac tower and a professional video capture card with inputs according to your camera’s best available outputs (USB, Firewire, HDMI, SDI or HD SDI if possible).
5. There are two ways to save on an encoder purchase: a. lease one (with monthly payments ranging from $200-$700) or b. build your own with a high-end PC or Mac (looking at a $2-4k, plus manpower resources for research, purchase, setup, installation, maintenance and trouble-shooting and (more research)).
a. The advantage of leasing is that some video hosting providers have perfectly configured encoders for lease, optimized for seemless integration with their CDNs. Some video hosting providers even offer to service and manage their encoders remotely which truly take this worry away from your team. Those leasing encoders with service contracts are simply “plug and play”.
b. Build your own: the advantage is, in an ideal scenario of course, the lower monthly cost. I would recommend nothing less than a latest generation Quad Core processor (i5 or i7), 8 GB Memory, a solid state drive and a professional video capture card (start looking at $500 and up on video cards only). Make sure to calculate with nothing short of $2k in hardware purchase for your self-built encoding PC or Mac and give yourself no less than two weeks to set it up, optimize all components, install the encoding software (the free Adobe Media Encoder, or the multi-purpose Wirecast are recommendable) and most of all: configuring and testing your encoding software.
At the end of the day: it's about getting started and technological setups are an ever evolving process of advancing. Just do it! And be encouraged: after all – people are doing it with far less equipment and funding than you are and it’s working. It’s about reaching, serving and helping people!
Let me know your experience, insight and questions on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you!