Saturday, November 27, 2010

Broadcasting Church

A couple weeks ago I was walking through my church atrium and zing--pain shot through my lower back. I hobbled upstairs and lay down on the nearest bench. The pain subsided enough that I was able to fulfill my volunteer duties and return home. I lay down in my bed, pulled out my laptop computer and went to the church web site. From there I watched the service live that I was missing.

Across this nation and the world there are millions of stories like mine. Except most of them don't end like mine--with the member being able to "attend" remotely. It's time that

Broadcasting use to be difficult. It required bulky (and distracting) TV cameras and a staff of trained operators. The equipment was expensive and of course required a cooperative TV station. Thanks to internet streaming technology that is no longer the case.

At it's most basic level all you need is a laptop, a digital video camera, a free account on and at least one geek in your church. You don't even have to have a internet connection at the
church--simply save the
video to your laptop's hard drive, take it home and stream it from there using a web cam simulator.

The great thing about internet broadcasting is that it scales. Your local church geek may already have the equipment needed to broadcast in a small church setting. If you are in a larger church the size adds new challenges--but you'll have the resources and probably a team of geeks available to meet them.

The first challenge in a large church is simply the size of the stage. If your church is anything like mine you'll need cameras that can zoom, pan and tilt.

In our church we installed three robotic cameras to capture different angles.

The video feed goes into a control room where the video is mixed and then uploaded to They provide us with a video viewer component that we embed in our church web site. (Click here to see what it looks like.) They also allow us to archive the stream so that members can catch up on missed sermons or review parts of the service they might want to see again. (Click here to see what that looks like.)

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