Do you feel like you’ve hit the roof or reached a plateau with your live stream quality?
In today’s show, Dave dives into his expertise to show you 5 ways you can improve your church live stream quality without busting your budget.
We love seeing churches of all sizes streaming their services and archiving their sermons for others to discover the Message.
But we know that many are using a minimal budget and don’t have even $2,000 to set up an ideal streaming rig.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get better with the gear you have.
So let’s find out how to find your true potential with these 5 tips to get better live stream quality out of the gear you have.
Framing & Image Composition
Framing is how you’re fitting your content inside the frame of the shot.
Even simply keeping the singer or speaker center-frame can greatly improve the quality of your stream.
Don’t let the subject fall to the bottom of the frame and or far off to the side.
A good way to learn how to frame is model what you see on TV. Notice how other speakers and preachers are framed on TV and use that as a jumping off point.
Achieve Better Quality With Your Lower-end Camera
Just because you can stream in HD, doesn’t mean you have to.
Your number one priority is your recording. Get the highest quality recording for archiving and podcasting the sermon. But since many of your viewers will be watching on mobile, you don’t need the highest resolution for the stream.
It’s better to have a 720p (1280 x 720) video image or even a (640 x 360) video image that is clean, crisp and doesn’t stutter or lose video/audio sync than it is to have a 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution video image that is stuttery and blocky when watching the stream and / or recording.
So if you have a lower-end HD or even an SD camera, you can still produce a quality stream.
When you’re working with a lower quality camera, you can use a lower screen size or resolution in your stream. When you do this, it’s like putting your thumb on top of a water hose. It helps the stream go faster and still look good.
When you have that, you’re able to increase the bitrate of your stream and have a clearer signal on your stream even though you’re using a low-end camera.
Audio Is King
Simply put, viewers will forgive poor video quality if they can still understand what’s going on.
Think about it, the visual clarity of the Pastor doesn’t communicate the Gospel…the Gospel comes by hearing.
So audio is the most important part of your stream.
Make sure your audio is clear, not choppy, and there is no static or interference. If you notice drop-offs in your stream numbers, check your audio first.
For the advanced users, remember that mixing live is different than mixing for a video stream. Your AV guy is mixing for a live audience in a room. That sounds very different than listening through headphones or speakers on your phone or laptop or TV.
If you want to go the next mile to your improve your live stream audio, add another audio mixer and remix your audio specifically from the live stream.
Take your main board and create subchannels for the different audio types and send them to the stream audio board. Then you can have more control over your audio in the mix and make the music experience better for everyone listening.
Make The Pastor Look Good
Similar to how we spoke about framing in tip 1, make sure you take care to frame the Pastor properly.
You may have the most beautiful staging, but it shouldn’t fill the camera frame. You should strive for a medium to a medium close-up of the Pastor.
Shoot to get him from the upper-thigh and above. This makes it easier for the viewer to pay attention and engage with the sermon.
And if your Pastor moves back and forth, you should do everything you can to track and keep them in the center.
In just a matter of weeks you’ll get a feel for how the Pastor moves. You’ll notice mannerisms that give you a tell on where they are going and you’ll have an easier time keeping the live stream interesting.
Manual Settings To Check
This one’s more technical but anyone can grasp it with some practice.
You want to make sure you set the exposure on your camera to manual.
Exposure is basically how much light is being let into the camera.
When your camera is on auto-exposure the camera is in control of how much light is coming into the camera. If the lights are dim in the room, your camera exposure will open up to let more light into the camera so you can see what’s going on.
If something bright happens the exposure will close down so you’re not blinded by all the light.
The problem with auto-exposure is that it doesn’t work well with an active stage. A lighting change, cymbal crash, guitar reflection, or multiple people moving around stage can trigger the camera to change it’s exposure constantly. This creates an inconsistent and distracting viewing experience.
The other setting to check on your camera is the white balance. This is your camera knowing what the color white should look like in the midst of stage changes. Again, if your in a static environment, auto-white balance is fine, but on a Sunday morning with multiple stage changes, you want to keep the white balance manually set.
The easiest way to set it is to take a white card or board to the stage and zoom the camera into it. Then use the camera settings to set that card as the white reference point to stay consistent throughout the stream.
Set your white balance before service and keep it the same. You may have to make tiny adjustments over time, the fine-tuning experience will come over time.
You don’t have to drop 20 grand on a live streaming rig anymore. Yes, a few thousand would be nice, but even if you’re using hand-me-down equipment or budget gear from Walmart, you can still get better live stream quality.
Learn how to properly frame your worship band and Pastor so the viewers can stay interested.
If you’re using an older camera, consider streaming at a lower resolution so you can push more data through to Facebook. It may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll be surprised how much clearer your video will look.
Fine-tune the audio of your stream so viewers can follow along without strain and understand the message. If you can, spend a little bit on a separate mixer for your stream so you can retune the worship music for your streaming audience.
And finally, learn how to set the exposure and white balance on your camera.
Which of these 5 tips will you try first? Leave a comment below!
If you are still missing pieces to your live stream setup, we’ve got a guide to show you our top gear recommendations that match any budget. Cameras, tripods, and even accessories to turn your phone into a streaming machine.
Check it out!