Getting Started with Church Online Equipment

Below is a quick guide to help you get started with streaming your online church services, no matter your budget.

You can get started right now completely for free by leveraging what’s called “Simulated Live” services. Simulated Live services are prerecorded services that you can stream as though they are live. Film your service on the newest smart phone you have available.

  1. Film the service from your phone
  2. Trim the beginning and end of the video within your phone’s built-in app. 
  3. Upload the video to a Vimeo or YouTube account
  4. Connect that video to your Church Online Platform account

If you’re wanting this “Simulated Live” experience on Facebook or Youtube you’ll need to leverage some sort of broadcast software. OBS (Open Broadcast Software) is a free app that you can use, and you can easily find tutorials online for getting started with OBS. 

Low Budget:

If you’re able to spend a little bit of money and want a truly live experience, here’s some equipment to get started:

For a higher quality USB-based live webcam:

  • Logitech C920: $135
    OR If you have a DSLR camera available and it’s able to give you a clean HDMI feed
  • El Gato Camlink : $130
    This will turn your DSLR camera into a high-quality live webcam.

You’ll need an HDMI cable to connect the camera to the El Gato Camlink. For both of these options you will need to use OBS studio. Find a way to connect your front of house mix to the computer running the live service to ensure you have excellent audio.

Medium Budget

If you have a budget for a new camera, start with a simple DSLR

The low cost but high quality option:

  • Sony A 6600: $1600
    • This camera can double as a great video camera outside of the live service. By purchasing this camera with some additional gear, you’ll be able to produce other high quality videos throughout the week. 
  • El Gato Camlink: $130
  • OBS Studio

Higher Budget

With a larger budget you can do things like create multiple camera angles to switch between.

  • Sling Studio: $1900, you can buy more for $350 a piece.
    • This will give you the ability to switch cameras live
    • You’ll have two wireless transmitters
    • Sling Studio has an app that will allow you to switch between your shots, use lower third graphics, and cue pre-recorded videos.
    • You don’t have to use OBS to go live but it is recommended.
  • iPad/Windows Surface
    • It can be easier to use the Sling Studio app on a tablet. 
    • iPad: $350
  • Cameras:
    • All of your cameras should match. If you’re moving from the medium budget to this higher budget, the Sony A 6600s are a good choice at $1,600
  • El Gato Camlink: $130
    • Sling Studio has an HDMI-out. Use an HDMI cord to the camlink connecting to your computer running OBS. 

With this setup, you’ll need a few people to make this all happen:

  • Switcher
    • You’ll need someone using the iPad/Windows Surface to switch between camera angles
  • OBS Operator
    • You’ll need someone to transition the different scenes in OBS
  • Producer/Showrunner
    • It’s best to have someone running the whole show to communicate which shots are next and the flow of service.

We know that starting online ministry can be a big job, but there’s a huge range of options available from free to higher end. And all of them work perfectly with the made-just-for-churches tool, Church Online Platform. Download it today, and start reaching people for Christ online no matter where they are.

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