Easter & COVID
When all the insanity of COVID hit, we needed to find new ways to reach our community. We haven't been a church that's known for its online presence and although we have significant viewership on our live services, we were not set up to run church completely online. So my team and I started thinking of ways to meet people where they were at, aka their living rooms. So with it being the week before Easter we decided to recorded our Good Friday service and stream it "live".
First we recorded worship: we set up a small set on our sanctuary stage and recorded our worship team doing a few songs. We ran through the set-list 3 times so I could get different angles of each run through. Then I stitched all the takes together in post to make it look like we had 9 cameras rolling when in reality I only had a steady-cam rig and a static tripod camera.
Then we had to get the teaching. Our pastor was recovering from a bad case of Coronavirus so I gloved up and handed him a camera and a tripod and did a little facetime tutorial on how to record himself from his livingroom.
All in all the video came out pretty great and we were all pretty excited to provide our church with something during an unknown and scary time. Check it out if you have time!
And then there was light....Kinda
Once we finished with Good Friday we needed to figure out what was next. How on earth are we going to build, or rather, maintain community when we're not allowed to gather together in person.
Our church decided to do "Watch Parties" on facebook so that our campuses could join together and watch the main campuses service but still be able to communicate as a campus. Then after the watch party we'd stream live, from our respective campuses, and do something called a service recap. Our pastor would jump on and ask the viewers some questions and ask for some interaction in the comments. This became a Sunday ritual and although its changed here and there, we're continuing to do that every Sunday.
After a few months had passed and we were still waiting to return to some form of normality, I decided to convert one of the rooms on our campus into a studio of sorts. We'd been streaming in our cafe for sometime and it was time for a bit of an upgrade.
So I scoured our campus for gear, lights, carpets, tables, and anything that would make the room look and feel more professional and comfortable seeing as we'd potentially be using it for the rest of the year to some degree.
For all the gear heads out there, here's what I'm using to create a quality look and sound to our stream. If you're not a gear head feel free to skip or just enjoy the photos.
STUDIO WEST SETUP
I pulled a few Chroma-Q RGBA pars from around our campus and set them up in the background to add some depth to the room, then I grabbed some Martin MAC Aura's and used them to bounce light off our ceiling. Aiming them at the ceiling instead of at the people really lights up the room well and gives it a very diffused and natural look to the room.
I also added two of the Aura's to the back of the room and face them towards the subject. I set them on a low percentage to give a nice back light and create some depth between the person speaking and the background of the room.
For the key light I used an Aputure 120D II with a large diffusion dome to give a really nice soft glow to the person speaking.
If you're going to spend time on anything when you're setting up for video, spend it on your lighting. It is possibly the most essential piece in having a high quality video.
The camera we use is the sony A7III with a 25-70mm lens. The reason I suggest a DSLR for stream set ups is because of how versatile it is. Not only do we stream with it but we capture a lot of our social media content with it, photo and video!
Then I picked up a capture card. This is the device that allows us to plug an external camera into a computer and have it recognize it as a camera. Without it you'd have to use a USB Webcam and those just never have great quality. The capture card we're using is the Elgato 4k60 S+. However, this is an upgrade from out first capture card, the Flint 4k Plus from ClonerAlliance.
Then all our video and audio gets streamed to our iMac using a program called OBS or Open Broadcast Software. This is a free software but its widely used and recognized as the standard for streaming online. It's how we switch scenes, play videos, add transitions, and monitor the stream health and internet connection. There's a lot you can do with it and it's relatively easy to make your stream look and feel professional.
The only catch is that it only streams to one source so you'd have to use a seperate software to stream to multiple platforms. We use BoxCast to send our stream to youtube, facebook, and even instagram (streaming to instagram requires another 3rd party program but it is possible!)
I grabbed our Allen&Heath QU32 soundboard from one of our multipurpose rooms and used one of the main outs to go to the capture card and voila! We now have 32 channels of audio that we can send to OBS and to the stream. Now a better way to do this may be to use an audio USB interface to route the mains through since it will have a much better pre-amp in the interface than in the capture card but that idea still needs to be experimented with. I'll keep you posted. ;)
We now have a room where we can stream service, shoot short devotionals, record a quick update video for our ministries, or whatever else we can dream up for our online presence. At the end of the day, we make use of what we're given and do the best we can to strive for excellence while we do it! This whole year has been a learning curve for everyone and I hope that some of these details can help make that curve a little more manageable!
Check out our latest Live Stream in this room! (And yes, we were actually live.)