Live streaming can be a powerful tool for churches wishing to widen their reach and fulfill the mandate of Acts 1:8. So how does EasyWorship fit in the live streaming workflow? Let’s take a look!
The Big Picture
By now you probably have a rough idea of how live streaming works, so here is a refresher from the thousand foot view. In order to stream video content you need hardware, software and a content delivery service like Lifestream.tv or Sermon.net. Let’s look at a very basic setup. First, you have a camcorder that you’ve had lying around the church. It thankfully has an HDMI output. Next, you need a way to get that video to the internet for all of your parishioners to see. The HDMI signal from the camera needs to make a stop to be converted to an internet worthy video format. This means the HDMI signal will have to be brought into a computer through a capture card, and reprocessed using OBS, VMix, Wirecast, etc… Alternatively, you can connect the HDMI cable to a stand alone streaming box. So, where does it go after the HDMI signal is reprocessed (Trans-Coded)? That’s where the content delivery service comes in. In your streaming software or device, you’ll configure it to send the reprocessed video signal to an online host, like a web hosting service, but it’s specifically designed for handling video streaming. The content delivery service provider will generate a special link and key to enter into the software or stand alone box. Now you are streaming video content to the web. From there, the video content is distributed to, Facebook, YouTube, the church’s website, etc…
A More Complete Workflow
Now that we’ve connected the dots from your camera to the streaming page, we can flesh out the workflow you would use with EasyWorship in the mix. Honestly, the options for using EasyWorship in a streaming workflow are fairly diverse, but basically you’re either going to be doing upstream keying or downstream keying. Upstream keying is where EasyWorship does all the masking. Downstream keying is where a video mixer takes the output from EasyWorship and mixes it with other sources, like cameras.
In an upstream keying workflow EasyWorship is going to act as your switcher mixer. Any cameras you’ll be using will connect to the EasyWorship computer via capture card or NDI. These sources will be added to the feeds area of EasyWorship, then used as a background in a theme. Next, the output from the EasyWorship computer will be sent to mixer computer running OBS, VMix, Wirecast or stand alone streaming box, either via video cable or NDI. Then the video will be rebroadcasted to the content distribution provider. For a basic streaming system this is great, however, downstream keying will be superior in the long run.
Down Stream Keying
Downstream keying gives you several options for keying EasyWorship over other content. EasyWorship becomes one of many sources that your mixer can use. You can use NDI or video cables with capture cards to get EasyWorship to the mixer computer. The benefit of NDI is that you have transparency baked into the video signal. This means that you just have to set your background in EasyWorship to none and the video mixer receives the background as transparent, allowing you to put text over video. Otherwise, if you want alpha channel support using video cables, you’ll need to connect two video cables to the mixer from the video card on the EasyWorship computer. EasyWorship will use one as the fill (standard full content) and the other as the key (the color that the mixer is keying out). Alternatively, you can use a green background in EasyWorship and connect one video cable to the mixer, and use a chroma key. Chroma key isn’t as clean as Alpha key, but it works. Additionally, you may want to setup a PIP scene in your mixer to allow you to show EasyWorship’s content in a PIP. This allows you to show the picture or slideshow the speaker wants to reference to the streaming audience. With a downstream key you have more options and versatility. In all of these scenarios you’ll notice that you’re connecting your EasyWorship computer to a video mixer or mixing software, either via video cable or the network. Of course, from the mixer you can send the video signal to the content distribution provider.
If you’re going to live stream, I recommend having a volunteer dedicated to managing the live stream. In some cases you might be able to set it and forget it, but most of the time it’s going to need some attention. Additionally, I recommend using a separate computer for keying text to the live stream, and bringing in the front of house computer into the mixer in case you need to do a PIP of what the live audience is seeing. Get familiar with your mixing software/hardware so you know its capabilities and how to get the most out of it. Read the articles that EasyWorship has published on using NDI, Chroma and Alpha key themes, Feeds, and the ATEM Television Studio Setup. These are good ways to increase your knowledge of how EasyWorship works with video mixers.
Keying text and graphics over your live video couldn’t be easier. Whether you’re running a large production live stream, or a single camera live stream, EasyWorship can fit in any workflow and take your live stream to the next level.