Church Production

Tutorial: Streaming Strategies

Solution oriented approaches for the success of your online ministry

By Ben English
April 3, 2014 1:11 pm EST

Topics: Tech Tutorial, Streaming-based,
Tags: streaming, video,

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Whether your online streaming ministry is well established or in its infancy, the future is on your side. Recent advances in technology, including new encoding solutions and the growth of content distribution networks, can help you connect with your online congregation in ways never before possible. While challenges to success remain, thankfully, practical solutions to common problems are within reach of most laymen—and most church budgets.

Read on to discover how to clean up your video signal at its source, address bandwidth and speed challenges, and learn new ways of helping your congregants embrace online media as a path to meaningful worship.

A clear signal through the noise

Video must be compressed before it can be streamed. Whatever your solution for compression is, make sure you begin with the highest possible quality video shot in the best possible light.

This process begins with the camera. The first link in any streaming chain is the video source, the device used to capture the flow of moving images before it is compressed and streamed on the web. A common misconception among many houses of worship is that if the goal is to create an easy-to-transmit video (which usually translates into a low-resolution and low-bitrate video signal) for a web browser or mobile phone, then it’s acceptable to use a low-quality camera.

The opposite is actually true; video signals captured by low-quality equipment tend to have a greater amount of “video noise,” much of it introduced by the camera itself. Video noise artifacts make it difficult to properly compress a video signal, and the unusable noise inevitably becomes compressed along with the true content. In a low-bitrate signal, the noise is a higher percentage of the total output, resulting in a much lower quality video signal overall than if the source signal had been captured cleanly, by a higher-end camera.

In addition to using the best possible camera to obtain an optimal signal, keep in mind that lighting plays an enormous role in the quality of compressed video. Video shot in low light has much more video noise than a well-lit video. Be careful; low-light video can look clean and sharp when viewed on a monitor connected directly to a camera, but completely lose its luster when compressed for streaming.

A multitude of sins can be covered by a high-end (and correspondingly high-priced) encoding system—these usually have video processing capabilities that can do a lot to help “clean up” the less-than-ideal video sources to create a sharp video signal. But the quality we aspire to always begins with a good source. Next page